Jill Kirchmann, a Piece of Canada in Oslo

My relationship with the city is complicated. When I first met Oslo, I loved her intensely and she could do no wrong. Then she started to irritate me a bit and I needed some space. Now I am coming back to her with love, and gratitude, and I am learning to appreciate her quirks. We are in an open relationship, so I am allowed to love other cities at the same time.

My name is Jill Kirchmann, I was born in South Africa and raised in Canada. Over the years, I have lived in France and back in South Africa so I am used to moving around and always open to new adventures.

I first came to Oslo in 2012 and then moved here in 2015 to live with my Norwegian husband. Apparently, I am a love-pat (instead of expat). You won’t hear me using that term. I write a blog called Norway Times about my life as an immigrant in this land. It is sometimes funny and sometimes totally depressing. Amazingly, it now has a loyal following of thousands of readers so big thanks to all of you for your interest and your messages! It is nice to know that others relate to my stories.

A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, MY HUSBAND AND I MOVED JUST OUTSIDE OF OSLO. SO NOW I FEEL LIKE I HAVE THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS – A BIT MORE SPACE TO HANG OUT WITH THE DEER AND THE BIRDS, AND WITH A GREAT CITY AT OUR DOORSTEP.

I like that Oslo is a small city and very walkable. When I first moved here, I was nervous to use the public transport (embarrassing truth) so I walked everywhere. It was a great way to get to know my new home. I am also grateful that my husband warned me the trikks (trams) do not stop at pedestrian crossings. If he hadn’t warned me, I’d be dead by now. At least 36 times dead. I guess I don’t like that very much.

Which thing of Oslo you could not live without?

I could not live without the natural beauty that surrounds Oslo. At least, I’d be very sad if it wasn’t there. I love looking out and seeing the sea and the islands, and also the marka that circles the city. It is amazing that you can take the T-bane to the last stop and be in the great outdoorsskiing, hiking, swimming. One of my favorite things is walking up to Ekeberg Park. The view is spectacular and the restaurant is a great spot for lunch (or, in our case, a wedding reception). I also love Oslo’s hidden gems – the public art that catches you by surprise in unlikely places, the beautiful little streets with their painted houses, and the unique architecture that is popping up everywhere. Talking about architecture, I highly recommend a tour of the Oslo Opera House. I have done it so many times now, with our various visitors, that I am the annoying lady who can give extra information after the guide is done talking.

Do you manage to tie work and private life in Oslo?

Well, I don’t actually have a job. Yet. When I left Toronto, I had been working on a comedy TV series called Baroness Von Sketch show. (It airs on Canada’s CBC Network and you can see it on YouTube! And it’s just been nominated for 5 Canadian Screen Awards!) I would love to get a job in TV here in Norway, but I am working on perfecting my Norsk and getting to know people. These things take time. In the meantime, I am gathering material so I can get back to doing some stand-up.

Your favorite Oslo neighborhood, restaurant, bar?

I love Tøyen. It is culturally diverse and has a great energy about it. I think it is only going to get better and better. The first place I got to know there was Carina’s café. They are so friendly and welcoming – which was especially nice when I first moved here – and they make a killer latte. My favourite restaurant, Café Brocante (which was in Grunnerlokka) has sadly closed down but that area has some other good restaurants, Aku-Aku Tiki Bar has some tasty cocktails. For a good night of beer drinking, my faves are Bonanza and Cacadou. They are both a bit rough around the edges, which is perfect. I like to wear my boots when I’m drinking beer.

Do you have the impression of living in a safe city?

Yes. The scariest thing in Oslo is that angry baby statue Sinntaggen in Frogner Park. I don’t like his face and his one shiny little hand. That is just creepy. I am also a little scared of quiz nights, Norwegian pastries, and those very perfect looking blond ladies who live over on the west end. Other than that, it’s a very safe city.

If today you could change something in the city what would you change? 

I would replace the huge tiger statue in front of Oslo S with a real tiger of the same size, and I would ride it around the city handing out bottles of champagne.

Would you like to move from Oslo to another city?

No. That sounds exhausting. And my husband would be sad.

Was Oslo better before or it’s better now?

You mean was it better before I arrived? Probably.

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