Eleven days ago I took a one-way flight to Tromsø, Norway’s seventh-largest and most northerly city, to be reunited with my wife. Last summer Jen beat two dozen other contenders to land a prestigious post-doc researcher contract at Norsk Polarinstitutt and has been living and working here since last September. We decided I should stay behind in Sheffield for a while to put our affairs in order, wind up my employment there, and act as a backstop in case anything went wrong with her new job. For one reason or another that ‘while’ ended up dragging on for almost seven months. It turns out moving countries is a difficult, stressful and time-consuming process!
Jen made one trip back to the UK and I managed to visit Tromsø three times during the period we were living apart. In between those times we kept in touch by email, VoIP, Skype, Twitter and the occasional POTS call. I honestly don’t know how we would have coped without being able to connect online – although absent such easy communication maybe I would have had more of an incentive to speed things up at my end!
Where is Tromsø?
About as far North as you can get in continental Europe and still have a city.
Isn’t it dark and cold all the time?
Tromsø is 350 km North of the Arctic circle so it gets Midnight Sun in summer and Polar Night in winter. Midnight Sun is visible between about 21 May to 21 July and the Mørketid (dark times) last from around 21 November to 21 January.
Tromsø is warmer than most other places located on the same latitude due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. The coldest temperature ever recorded here is -20°C and the warmest +30°C. Average summer temperatures are +12°C to +15°C and the winter average is around -5°C. It also snows a lot!
There’s more detail on Wikipedia.
Have you sold your house in the UK?
We’re in the process of selling it. For now, it’s in the hands of a good friend, who is house-sitting for us for a couple of months while the paperwork goes through.
What have you done with all your stuff?
This is the last we saw of it…
Where will you be living?
At the moment we have a tiny one-bed flat in a converted basement about a mile from the town centre. It’s not really big enough for both of us, and in any case our lease comes up at the end of May, so house-hunting is a priority. We hope to find somewhere large enough that we can send for our things – as well as accommodating guests occasionally.
What will you do for work?
This seems to be most people’s immediate question when they learn Jen’s career is the reason for our move. I sometimes wonder whether she would have been quite so pestered with it if our positions were reversed.
I have a part-time Project Management contract working remotely for the Open Rights Group. I’m looking for other remote freelance work to complement this, with the aim of divorcing my job from my physical location as much as possible, the better to follow my favourite wandering academic as she bounces round the world hunting icebergs…
Do you speak Norwegian?
Nei. Well, I know a few words, but I’m nowhere near being able to string together a useful sentence, much less understand one spoken by someone else. I will be taking lessons though!
What will you do with your spare time?
Jen has bought me a pair of fjellski and told me I’d better learn to use them or I’ll never see her – so I guess we’ll be skiing until the snow melts at least 😉
When will you be back in the UK next?
We’re planning a visit over the Whitsun bank-holiday for a friend’s wedding. It’s likely I’ll be staying for about a week to catch up with some colleagues and sort out a few remaining life-admin things. If you fancy meeting up please let me know and we’ll arrange it 🙂
How can we keep in touch with you?
All my existing comms networks still work and I’ve kept my UK mobile number for the time being too.