Living in Norway
Foreigners in Norway, they come because of work or love. I was in the second group. There are also those who simply want to come and enjoy this breathtakingly beautiful country and its good welfare system. Having been living in two other foreign countries in Europe prior to my arrival to Norway, I was enthusiastic. Sure, I have visited Oslo couple of time before the move, in winter and in the summer. What those short visits did not show is the vast cultural difference that separates Norway even from other Nordic countries. not to mention Central or Southern Europe. Denmark, welcoming and Danes laid back and funny, curious about people. Sweden multicultural all the way through with youth from all over the world, cosmopolitan Stockholm.
It was the distance to people and surroundings, lack of effort to connect and unsympathetic passers by in the first two weeks of my stay that initially made me feel very unwelcome. Followed by grim faces on the public transport, lack of simple manners like saying “excuse me”, when trying to pass someone to get off the bus and misinterpreted gender quality. What a rare occurrence when a man opens and holds the door for a woman, when someone gives up their seat on the tram or offers to pay for the coffee on a date.
Food choice in the grocery shops was in 2010 rather selected, this has slowly changed now and the choice includes vegan food, produce without palm oil and eco shopping.
Many companies do not have a proper cantine, so employees bring sandwiches with the caramelized goat cheese and macarel in tomatoes from the can. Milk is still very popular, and Norwegian society is nearly unaware about the impact of meat and diary industry on animal welfare, on human health and environment.
As a matter of fact, there is one large dairy producer, which is subsidized by the government.
Norwegians have “taco Fridays”, when they consume low quality red mince meat with some vegetables and hot sauce with sour cream. There is not a complex Norwegian cuisine, some traditional Christmas dishes, prepared in the old school way. Frozen pizza is considered a national dish.
Cigarette smoking is less popular that in the rest of Europe but instead “snus”, powdered tobacco is being used by young and older Norwegians.
Many Norwegians like nature and spend a lot of time outdoors. Skiing and skating in winter, cycling, kayaking and climbing in the warmer season. Having said that, there are those that do not know how to ski and spend their time in front of tv watching sports competition and Netflix.
Egalitarian society still practises “The Law of Jante”, the idea that there is a pattern of group behaviour towards individuals within Scandinavian communities that negatively portrays and criticises individual success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate.
Norwegians believe what they read in the press and as a nation are somehow naive. This also shows in the welfare system, politics and immigration. Many Norwegians are being eaten by political correctness and afraid of speaking out their mind. Lack of information, their interpretation and thorough understanding of the world politics, economical impact are partly the reason for their lack of critical thinking. A proper debate only started to take place after Labou Party has lost in the election after nearly ten years of ruling. Norwegian society is afraid of labels and being called racist, bigot and hence politicians and people of influence do not want to take the stand even if the government decision seem ignorant and not well thought through.
Immigration especially is a hot subject, where regressive left confuses society with information filtered through their prism and not presentation of facts, as they are. Lack of understanding of basics economics and how money can be spent helping million of people in need around the world, instead of millions spent on individuals in Norway, seems not clear even with the government finance stars.
Norwegian society is waking up and with them, ideas that have been growing already in other parts of Europe.
Family life, high quality of life in general can attract those who like to live peacefully, do not need endless culture choice and are fine with the seven months long winter.
It is common for people to finish their working day at 4 pm. Nurseries cost not much and abortions are legal.
Norwegians generally speaking are not religious. They do not attend mass on Sundays but visit the church over Christmas. Easter is usually reserved for a trip to the mountains and skiing in the sun, eating oranges and chocolate and watching Easter crime movie.
Norwegian church is being heavily subsidized by the state with over NOK 1300 per church member per year. If you want to avoid paying church tax and do not attend the church, unsubscribe from the church.
Incredible nature, untouched forest, love to outdoor living are some of the best traits of Norway.
Norwegian are not afraid of rain or snow, they say there is no bad weather, just bad clothing.
Good working life-free time balance is rare in today’s world and here you can definitely feel not guilty about going home at 4 pm. Childcare, nurseries are reasonably priced and there is an additional discount for a sibling joining the nursery.
Education is free, university fees are more symbolic than anything else.
There has been many complains that Norwegian educational system is not in the best shape, delivering low results and creating lazy generation of youth, which goes straight into unemployment benefits after high school.
This is changing. Homework from grade 1 and discipline had been brought back, at least to some schools.
International crowd still prefers sending their children to international schools, which do have higher generally speaking level of education that Norwegian schools. French, German, International school can be found in Oslo area.
Life in Norway is quiet, peaceful and mostly uneventful (which can be seen either positive or not).