Posts Tagged ‘Work’
I should sleep. I can’t remember when I last slept more than five hours a night.
But I just have to share some pictures from today.
My third May 17th in Norway. Norway’s Constitution Day.
This year I celebrated with my two new roomies and some of their friends, with bubbly for breakfast…
before I spent the last couple of hours of the day at work, which is always exciting on this day.
Looking back, a lot is the same from when I first arrived Oslo, May 2011, but at the same time so much has changed.
Guess we need these check points to see where’ve been…
and where we’re going.
It’s midnight and I just got back from work. I should go straight to bed because I start 7 a.m tomorrow again.
But I feel inspired to write and actually, that is something I experience more and more seldom these days. I’m too busy living.
I have only four days off in the entire month of April, so it’s safe to say I spend a lot of time at work. But I really don’t mind. I enjoy every meeting with a guest, the regulars as much as the tourists. I care for them and I honestly want to give them the best experience during their stay. I take every inquiry seriously and I probably outperform some of my service tasks, but isn’t that what service is about? To go that extra mile. At least for me, it is satisfactory to know that I have made a difference. And I think that’s why my hotel manager asked me to hold a “service boost” presentation at our last staff meeting. I looked out on all my wonderful, supportive, colleagues and friends, and I thought to myself that every person is so unique and has so much to offer.
I don’t only spend my time within the walls of the Hotel Savoy. Today I spent almost all day within 10 metres from the hotel! This morning I had a look at the Design Forum store opposite Hotel Savoy and Norli bookshop before I met up with my friend Malin at the newly opened restaurant and cafè Elias Mat & Sånt on the other side of the street. I greeted the friendly waitress and told them I worked at the Savoy and was there to see if we should send people over. When the food arrived I was convinced. A delicious smoked salmon with porched egg, dijon mustard potato salad and greens. I’m sad to say you don’t often get food with finesse at mid-range restaurants in Norway, but this was just what I wanted. They have elk-stew specials on Fridays for just 95 kronor which is about a third of the price you’d pay at any other restaurant. So it’s definitely a place for tourists to enjoy good food to a reasonable price.
Me and Malin spent a great couple of hours catching up on the dating scene, the summer plans, the gossip from back home and our future dreams. We agreed that Oslo was great, but that it’s probably wise to get out of the bubble once in a while. Get some perspective. A lot of the times I feel everything is about consumption and careers in this city and that there’s too little soul and time for reflection. My uncle always used to joke that he’d rather cry in a Ferrari than a Volkwagen. I’m not too sure.
At work today a lady called from Germany and told me her sister was staying at the hotel and it was her birthday tomorrow. She knew it was late but she wondered if I could arrange some flowers and a cake for tomorrow morning. I said of course, but suddenly remembered that most supermarkets, flower shops and bakeries are closed on Sundays unless they open at noon, by which the guests would have checked out. I contemplated baking a cake and taking flowers from home.
But when I finished work I saw that my favourite convenient store Susan’s Deli was still open. The foreign men cheered when I came in, they know me by now. I told them they were angels for keeping open and I got a good deal on orange roses and a lemon and chocolate cheesecake.
I also took a turn into the Caribbean restaurant Lemongrass, just opposite the Savoy and spoke to the waiters. We are having a staff dinner there on Wednesday so I thought I’d see if we could get some discount, seeing we do have the power to bring them guests. They promise they’d arrange something.
I walked home with the roses in my hand and the cake in a box, as people were playing party music from open balconies, but I was fine knowing I’d get home for just a few hours sleep.
I get so much energy from doing what I do, it can keep me going for a lot more.
I’ve lived in Norway 10 months now. I came here for the same reason as nearly 150 000 other Swedes: to work and save money. I work in the service industry and I work a lot. I share apartment with two other Swedes that also work at hotels. We are young and we go out a lot but we never let in influence our day jobs. We still complain about the cost of living in Norway although our salaries are set accordingly. We save less money than we expected but we like it here better than we thought.
We don’t live in a collective house in Grünerløkka and I wouldn’t say that we are “Party-Swedes” (see video below) but other than that we represent the typical Swedish workers in Norway quite well.
Norway’s economy is booming and the capital Oslo is growing fast.
Unemployment in the country is a little under 3% at the moment. On the other side of the border, 25% of Swedish young people are struggling to find work. No wonder we go west.
In fact, in central Oslo, roughly every 10th person i Swedish.
If you ask a Norwegian company manager why they often times prefer to hire a Swede instead of a Norwegian they’ll say that Swedish workers are more service-minded and hard working. There is even talk about Norwegians being lazy. I think in truth, young people in Norway today just don’t appreciate the standard of living that emerged with the findings of oil supplies. Norway is quite a newly rich country but the generation growing up today don’t know anything else. So the Norwegians have their eyes on high status jobs, often times in the finance or shipping industry, and the other jobs – they leave to Swedish and Polish people.
Norwegians themselves admit that Norway wouldn’t have managed without us. And us Swedes, we return home rich or go travelling until we need to go back to Norway for a new travel fund. It’s a win-win situation but we don’t know what it means for the future of our countries.
I don’t know any hotel, restaurant, café or bigger clothing store that doesn’t have any Swedish staff but at my work place I am the only one at the moment. And so last Friday when my manager called me in the morning and asked if I could do an interview with a TV-team that were headed to our hotel in ten minutes and wanted to talk to one of our Swedish co-workers, I didn’t have much choice. I was on my way to yoga class, with greasy hair and no make-up but I said I could be at work in half an hour, knowing my manager really wanted the publicity on TV.
Me and my Norwegian colleague Karoline were filmed in the front desk and by chance one of our regulars happened to come and thank us both with a box of chocolate, so we got that on tape and some good shots of the hotel. They asked us a couple of questions about the difference between Norwegians and Swedes and how we work together. Karoline is one of the most ambitious, service-minded and friendliest people I’ve ever worked with, and all my other colleagues do a great job, so I don’t think it’s a matter of nationality but rather personality.
The 5 min clip was shown on the TV news that night and there is a link on the web, but I’m not telling
Swedish and Norwegian is very similar but to make it easier at our work places, we tend to speak a kind of “svorsk” – a totally unique, random blend of Swedish (svensk) and Norwegian (norsk). We don’t give this made up language a lot of thought, but someone recently told me it has become an issue in kindergartens where a lot of Swedish workers influence the children’s language, especially if the children’s parents have yet another origin. Imagine the language confusion at home.
Swedes and Norwegians are also very similar kind of people, although I’d say Norwegians are more nature-loving and less pretentious than Swedes. And of course, we love to make fun of each other.
Here is a mockery rap song that was popular last summer about all the young Party-Swedes.
There was also a funny TV-program called “Svensker er mennesker” (“Swedes are also people”) and the popular TV-show host “Skavlan” was recently awarded by the Nordic Culture Fund for his “svorsk” – and his way of joining the two languages.
Borders are meant to be bridged.
Not only did I just receive these beautiful flowers from a guest for something as obvious as giving them a nice room, I bought a fancy dress today that I’ll be wearing at the exciting Nordic Choice Winter Conference in Stockholm this weekend!
Life is gooood!
I can’t stop smiling. It’s been going on for two days now.
From talking to a close friend the other day, remembering what a great thing we got, to the response I’ve had from store managers sponsoring the Christmas charity dinner we arranged tonight at my hotel for families exposed to domestic violence. Today I got two loads of stuff in a shopping cart and two full big bags. From being a rather small dinner almost 60 women and children came by.
And everyone was so grateful.
It’s all the hugs I got from the little children, it’s the friendly chats with guests, the gifts, the positive feedback I get several times a week, my colleagues who have become my friends. It’s the fact that even though I got two job offers today (seriously) I wouldn’t want to change jobs.
It’s the fact that I’ve done all my Christmas shopping, all my packing and arranged with my best friend to pick me up at the train station in my home town tomorrow night at 11 pm. It’s coming home.
Looking out my window now, white snowflakes are falling.
I just hope it doesn’t snow all night. I need to drag my suitcase to work in just four and a half hours. Which reminds me that I need to go to bed!
Maria says I laugh in my sleep.
Well I’m not surprised
Saturday night at home: a big bowl of dark Belgian chocolate ice-cream and my “Acoustic Sounds – Live” Spotify Playlist.
I had a wild night yesterday that involved many Caipirinhas and a lot of dirty dancing at the balcony of Bar Vulkan.
Thursday evening my friend Ryan came over as a part of his Norway trip and we stayed up late and talked with Charlotte and Maria. Wednesday we had a Christmas party with work and Tuesday I went out for coffee and a movie with a new friend.
Needless to say, a private little evening on my own is just what I need.
The Christmas dinner with work was beautiful. Savoy is a small hotel with only about 25 staff members and almost everyone was there. We had a five course fish and seafood menue with great wine at Fjord, which is a part of Eik Restaurants; well known in Oslo and always busy. Karoline and I are having dinner at Eik in January as it was the prize of a little competition we had in the front desk, but I must say, having eaten at Fjord now, it has become my favourite.
Everyone was beautifully dressed up and the new manager held a speech and told us how proud she was of us.
She also revealed who had been voted “Employee of the Year -
The person with most energy, courage and enthusiasm”.
And it was….ME!
I was so honored and happy! I didn’t know what to say, except that it’s easy to smile when you enjoy your work. I got a weekend hotel giftcard for two + I get to attend the Nordic Choice Winter Conference in Stockholm in January. I’m so excited! We all toasted to the New Year and the great atmosphere that there is at the hotel.
We continued off to a show and some bars, ending the night around Youngstorget where I got the hots for the bartender at Justitien, although he was noticeably engaged and served me the worst shooter of my life: Sambuca, Vodka and Tabasco. Burned my throat for hours.
But now I’m having chocolate ice cream and all is well.
Another week passed by, snow is finally here, Christmas is drawing near and I’m completely happy!
7 a.m is way too early to be starting work on a Sunday. But here I am still, at the hotel, with a big cup of coffee, like so many other weekends since I started 7 months ago.
I’m pushing 200 work hours every month but I really don’t complain. November, the Norwegian government has decided we only pay half of income taxes so we will have more money to spend on Christmas shopping in December.
I love Norway for that. Among many things.
Have a beautiful Sunday, however you spend it.
Perfect Saturday morning.
I woke up from the sound of rain outside my window. I put my gumboots on and walked to Café Laundromat, the America inspired café where you can have your laundry washed while you’re crouched down in a couch eating American pancakes and surfing the net.
Maria, who works extra at my hotel, had just finished her morning shift cleaning the tables and greeted me at the door. Her son Sergio is the chef and came out with pancakes and coffee and later Maria’s grandson Erik arrived with the baby sitter Tommaso.
I had brought gym clothes as SATS Bislett is just down the street but with little Erik being so adorable and the conversations in Italian with Maria and Tommaso being too pleasant, time flew by, as Jimi Hendrix was playing my favourite song in the background:
Fly on my sweet angel…
I just got a text massage from work asking me to come in earlier.
Plans change and so I’ll pack a new bag and bring some make-up to work instead. Friends of mine are staying at the hotel and I’ll probably join them at a club later.
There is still hope for the perfect Saturday night.
Sunday morning and I’m off to meet a friend before work.
I work every day this week and haven’t had much time to catch up with people or my laundry, which is a bigger problem because we have lost the key to the laundry room so I have to knock on one of the neighbours doors. But definitely not the neighbors down stairs because they woke me up at 4 a.m yesterday morning having violent sex, including hitting, spanking and screaming something about being the Hulk, to the point that I yelled out from my window to theirs that if they didn’t shut up I would call the police. “Don’t call the police” said a small voice before she closed the window. I felt like such a grumpy old lady when I decided to get up, make myself some coffee and read the morning paper. It was 2 hours before I had to go to work anyway.
I like my new job. I like the informal and friendly atmosphere. I like most guests and I like my colleagues.
There’s the sweet Norwegian girls in the front desk, there’s the funny housekeeping staff: Joseph from Zimbabwe, Jorge from Spain, Lemmi from Tanzania and people from places like Poland, China and Rumania. There is Maria that works at the Loft with whom I speak Italian and there’s the staff from the two restaurants, the Swedish chefs and managers, the buzz from the bar at night.
I like Oslo a lot which is good enough.
Good enough for now.
There’s a certain magic about arriving to a new city for the first time.
The way your carefully screen the contours of the city, its buildings and shops, parks and monuments.
How fast you make up your mind to like this place or not.
The way your attention is drawn to small details that become your landmarks, images fixed on your mental map.
How carefully you watch people to determine whether you’re going to be one of them, or wondering if they can tell that you’re not.
Those days won’t come again, because sooner than you know you start to find your way around and forget to look up at the beautiful buildings or smell the roses from the gardens.
I instantly took a liking to Oslo.
Everything felt familiar. Like a mix between Gothenburg and Copenhagen but more accessible, easy-going and friendly. I felt comfortable and at home, being one of 80 000 Swedes that come to Norway to work, I knew no one would raise an eye. After so much time spent wondering where to go and what to do, this felt like a spot where I could rest my mind and not take things so seriously.
It’s amazing how things fall into place and possibilities start to appear when you drop expectations and let things naturally progress.
I don’t know how long I’ll stay and I don’t need to know yet either. I know there are lots of things I want to do in life, places I want to visit, experiences I want to have but I don’t think I need to stress all that much about it.
After all, the only thing you can count on is change.
I had two days to settle into my new apartment. The first evening when I arrived I took a long walk around the area of St Hanshaugen where I live. It was a beautiful evening and the parks were full of people barbequing, drinking and chilling.
Later that night I found myself at a housewarming party with a whole bunch of Swedes in their 20’s that gave rights to the term “party Swedes”. My friend Fredrik is two years younger than me which easily made me the oldest one in the group but I had fun still, pub crawling in Grünerløkka.
The next day, 1st of May, may possibly have been one of the longest in my life. I was alone in the flat since Charlotte was at her boyfriend’s and Stefan was working. It was cold and cloudy outside, everything was closed, people were sleeping off the booze and the (neighbour’s) internet was down. I cleaned, unpacked, slept, watched a movie, went for a run, bought some groceries from a little corner shop, made a curry and lentil soup and contemplated the idea of baking bread but didn’t have all the ingredients.
I enjoyed being in a little bubble where no one knew my phone number or could reach me on a chat. I could recharge and get ready to start my new job at the hotel and this new chapter in Oslo.
I have a feeling it will be quite interesting.