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177 Nations of Tasmania - Episode 59 - Norway

In the case of many migrants I've interviewed, coming to Australia/Tasmania has meant coming to a place with a better quality of life, where services are more advanced and where things just work. So it's interesting to get a rare insight from someone who has migrated from a country that is top of the scale not only in terms of wealth, but also when it comes to health, education and general social support services.

It might be assumed that coming from a country like Norway, that there would be few adjustments - Norwegians, apart from perhaps being a little taller and fairer, don't stand out, speak good English and are generally well-educated. But in Anette's case, she moved to a small town in northwest Tasmania, after spending most of her life in cities - Oslo and London. As you will learn from listening to the podcast episode, there was more to adjust to than you might assume.

One of the most interesting aspects that Anette talked about was the different ways people express themselves here. I have certainly heard this from numerous other migrants, particularly from European countries, but also from my ow personal experience it rings true. Tasmanians, and Australians more broadly, tend to shy away from expressing or discussing strong emotions. When people ask the question "How are you?", a genuine response is rarely expected or given. There's a superficiality in social relations, whereas in Norway ( and other countries), the question can elicit more in-depth responses.

For a new migrant from this background, newly arrived, with no or few social contacts, this can really accentuate feelings of isolation and give an impression of coldness. Of course, most overcome this feeling eventually, but one can certainly empathise and understand this situation.

But this leads me to the second key theme that stands out to me in this episode - findingg your people. The turning point for Anette was discovering the theatre community in Tasmania. Anette trained as an actress in London, and the theatre had been a big part of her life before coming to Tasmania with her husband and kids, so discovering and participating in a theatre group helped significantly improve her experience of living in Tasmania.

This same theme of "finding your people" has been something that has been evident in other conversations and as locals, it's something we don't always appreciate. Whether it be through theatre groups, sporting clubs, art classes or music groups, everyone needs outlet that helps develop friendships and just be able to enjoy life here. I think this is particularly well illustrated in Anette's story.

I also think there's something to what she says in regards to how we tend to repress our emotions here and sweep things under the carpet to avoid discomfort, so perhaps we could learn something in this regard from Norwegians and other European cultures, where frank communication about feelings is more common and accepted ?

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