As I’m writing this blog post the whole of the Nordics are completely obsessed by the Norwegian tv series “Skam” (Eng. “shame”). People aged 14 to 30 follow the lives of fictional Norwegian teenagers with all their problems with school, social life and simply growing up. The recognition factor is almost too hard to handle! This series has really stirred things up here in the North: suddenly it’s cool to speak Norwegian.
Learning how to communicate in a Nordic setting
The first project of our Management trainee program took place at the Visma HQ in Oslo. Visma is well established internationally and I would claim that everybody here speaks English really well too. Imagine my surprise when our introductory days were all in Norwegian. The Nordic languages are closely related and in writing it is fairly easy for us to understand each other. Smalltalk is usually fine as well. But imagine working in a different language. When you have to understand 99%, instead of a sufficient 75% smalltalk level of understanding. I am not going to claim it has been easy.
Us Management trainees made a collective decision at the very beginning of our trainee year: we would all stick to our native languages as far as possible. At first it seemed crazy. And there was a lot of “Skam” involved, both in the form of the TV series and as a feeling when you yet again misunderstood the Danes.
A job where I “accidentally” learn a new language
Right now I am doing project number three at the Oslo HQ, working with M&A. I would claim that 95% of my social interaction here is with people talking to me in Norwegian. As a Swedish speaking Finn I reply to them in Fenno Swedish, but I feel like more and more Norwegian words are finding their way into my vocabulary. Thanks to Visma I can soon add another language to my LinkedIn profile.
The series “Skam” is bringing people in the Nordics together and teaching us the basics in Norwegian. The Management trainee program luckily means that those teenage drama-days are far behind, but it has created a unique Nordic environment and a love for the Nordic languages. After all, how cool is it that people from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden are communicating seamlessly in their native languages? A group of 12 young professionals talking to each other in different languages and dialects isn’t something you see everyday.
The key to success
So for all of you planning on applying for a job in the Nordics, such as Visma’s Management trainee program: do it. There will be misunderstandings, most of them humorous, and it can be exhausting to work in a foreign language in the beginning. But it is so worth it. And to help you on your way, I have put together a Norwegian, “business appropriate” word list. Just if you want to develop the vocabulary you have already gained from “Skam”. Ha det!
Amanda’s (somewhat) Business ABC
Kunstig intelligens= Artificial intelligence
Drive butikk= Profiting from something
Lure på= To wonder
Selvfølgeligt= Of course