July 15 2006
-Where were you born?
I was born in Sarpsborg, Norway.
-Are you living alone or with your family?
I live with my wife here in Ireland. Our two sons are grown up and live in Norway.
-In which country and city are you living now?
I live in the city of Waterford in Ireland.
-How long have you been living in Ireland?
I anticipate staying here another 18 months; I have a two-year contract for a company. But the same arrangement ended up with me staying for five years in Thailand. It’s difficult to predict.
-What is your age?
I am 52 years old.
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Ireland?
My stay is a result of company contacts and company needs for special competence in our factories around the world. I am running factories as a plant manager.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
Here in Ireland it was not a problem at all as Norway is well connected to the EU. But in Thailand, I would not have gotten visa permits and work permits without my company’s help. Thailand has a lot of restrictions before you are granted a work permit. You need a job before you start working, basically.
-How do you make your living in Ireland? Do you have any type of income generated?
Again it was my company, already established in Thailand and Ireland, which granted me the visa or work permit (for Thailand). I did not look for a job in particular. These types of jobs are usually granted to persons the company management wants to employ in particular. I got the questions and it started from there.
-Do you speak the local language and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
I have used English as my basic language for my work, in Thailand as well in Ireland. But both countries have their own special language, which are very difficult to learn. I found that the Thai language, with its 44 letters and tone language, was quite difficult to learn. If you’re planning a long-term stay in a country, I think you should put great effort into learning the local language. I did not, except for certain phrases that helped me order food or direct a taxi.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
I certainly have missed my home country many times. Being so far away from your friends and family for years is hard. My wife and I have tried to travel and visit back home as much as possible. The more positive experiences were all the nice visits we got from family and friends, especially when we were in Thailand.
In my spare time I do many things. I am a hobby photographer and enjoy fishing and a ride on my motorbike -- golf as well.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
I hope to finish my current job in a year or two, but the next steps haven’t been planned yet. In the current world everything is happening too fast to make an exact plan. But I anticipate being back in Norway within five to ten years.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
I am currently renting an apartment here in Waterford (like I did in Bangkok). My company shoulders some of the costs. I still have my house in Norway.
-What is the cost of living in Ireland and Thailand?
Thailand has a low cost of living, about 1/6 of that of Norway. Here in Ireland the cost is about 8/10 of that of Norway, which is quite high.
-What do you think about the local population in Thailand and Ireland?
In Thailand the situation was more “us” and “them.” All Western foreigners and expats were called Falangs. We were all supposed to pay more since we have more income than the locals. In Ireland there is no such big barrier; however, barriers still do exist.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Thailand?
Meeting new people and all new contacts you can get
Learning new cultures
Getting more experience than you would at home
Developing yourself as a professional employee
Earning a better salary
Being away from friends and family for a long time
Losing contact with old friends
Extra costs involved in living
Having to live with being a 'special' in the country
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in another country?
There are too many, I guess. But here is some advice for people thinking about moving to Thailand.
Be wary of first impressions. You will always think the country you have come to is a paradise (such as Thailand) until you discover all the hidden sides of the culture. It’s difficult to fully join in the Thai culture; you will always be a farang (even if you marry a Thai). Wait a year to learn and get the experience you need before you take any big or long-term decisions.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about anything related to Thailand?