23 Signs You Have Lived in Norway Long Enough
Norway is one of the northernmost country in the world. Many can not even accurately pinpoint where it is located in the globe. I was like many, who knew little of this Scandinavian state. For now, it has been over three years since I took my chance in starting a new life here. In that period of time, nothing I can consider easy. It was full of challenges to be integrated in the relatively conservative Norwegian society. However, I see my experience not as a mere struggle, but as part of my continuing personal history worth remembering for. So now, I will be presenting the 23 common signs that one has lived in Norway long enough.
1. You love the sun. Even it is about 12 degrees Celsius but there is sun, you could see people in light clothing. With that, I mean really light. People sunbathe wherever and whenever there is a warm sun. This is quite surprising for me, given I originally come from a tropical country.
2. You appreciate snow. If you come from the Northern region or the mountainous areas, you get snow more often than around the capital city Oslo. One would love snow at first, then hate it but ending up loving it as if one has a choice.
3. You know how to wait. Unfortunately, not all systems are efficient. They are careful than efficient I guess. Because of that, everything takes time. Therefore, one needs to learn waiting for almost every possible imaginable thing.
4. You appreciate nature walks. The Norwegian culture is binded with nature. It is customary to go out to get fresh air, regardless of the weather. Everyone seems to be satisfied with walking or hiking under sun, rain or snow.
5. You ran to catch the bus or train. In big cities, the public transportation is more well-established. One has to check regularly train and bus schedules. Delays happen but rarely and minimally.
6. You eat salmon, lamb meat, sausage, brown goat cheese etc. Since Norwegian landscape is characterized sea and mountains in a cold climate, Norwegian cuisine is linked to its environment. I have learned Norwegians have learned to store and preserve food in ancient times for the cold months. This is the reason why jams, preserved salmon and cured meat abound in Norway.
7. You love boats, sea and fjords. Because Norway has rich maritime history since the Viking period, many Norwegians have lived out from the sea. Today, Norwegians perhaps are exerting its dominance in sea navigation. On the other hand, fjords are unique in Norway carved out after the melting of glacial ice during the last Ice Age.
8. You have been to a cabin. In summer, it is popular to go to a cabin. That is also in winter, spring, autumn or any possible time. The goal is not to experience solitude but to socialize with others. It is actually an enriching social experience.
9. You learn to drink coffee or warm drinks. Norwegians drikk the most coffee per capita. This is not unusual in a country near the Artic Circle. Personally, I have not learned to drink coffee, but at least I began to say yes to cacao warm drinks.
10. You check the weather updates often. The weather is actually not changing every hour, but since one wants to know what kind of clothes suits with the weather, people in Norway are much interested with what the meteorologists say. As they say, no bad weather, only bad clothes.
11. You invest in jackets, good shoes and wool clothings. The lowest temperature I experienced is around negative twenty Celsius. Luckily, it happened only for some days. This is a good reason why people invest heavily in clothes.
12. You tolerate cold better than before or others. Before I find twenty degrees cold when I set the aircon in the Philippines, now I find that temperature summer-like. One time I went to another country in winter. It was quite awkward to see others with thicker jackets than I have on me.
13. You forget exchange rates. Everything is expensive. When you find prices not so expensive, then you have learn to forget how it cost in your home country. Remember, one half-liter coke in Norway could feed one person with one full-meal in the Philippines.
14. You know if the nearest shop is open on weekends. Most stores and shopping centers are closed on Sundays. Stores have limited time selling alcoholic beverages. So, planning is important as well as in buying.
15. You like to go to Sweden, Denmark or Germany. They say Danes shop in Germany, Swedes shop in Denmark and Norwegians shop in Sweden. Take a boat, car or bus; and cross the border. You will certainly find something that interests you to buy.
16. You are planning for your next vacation. Vacation is something observed strictly in Norway. Given that I come from outside Europe, traveling back to my home country for vacation is quite natural. The first thing I think when I take a plane back to Norway is when is the next time I would take vacation again. This involves planning and ofcourse financial resources.
17. Your English is getting worse. The one of main reasons why I write a blog is to practice writingnin English. I continuously read, listen and write in English, but there is almost rare chance that someone will speak to me in English. Norwegians understand and speak good in English but they take pride of their language such that they use it primarily in day-to-day conversations even with foreigners like us.
18. You talk with strange expressions or sounds. Hmm, jaa, oi, åja. These are some common Norwegians expressions showing interests. One could gasp one's breath intentionally while someone is speaking to denote one's attention is still present. Nodding is okay but better with these strange sounds. Interestingly, when I speak in my language and English, I used them as well to the surprise of the one I am talking.
19. You believe more on independence and equality. I personally learned that every individual deserves to decide on his or her own, regardless of the consequences it may bring to the person. We are all unique so we have to respect differences on our beliefs, actions and thoughts. Theoretically speaking, everyone has their rights protected in Norway. As to what extent is another question.
20. You think working more than 7,5 hours is unacceptable. Interestingly, Norway has one of the lowest legally mandated work hours in a week with very attractive salary. It is common that by 4 o'clock in the afternoon, everyone is rushing towards home after a day of work. So working after 5 pm deserves compensation already for the missed personal and family time.
21. You do not question why you pay high taxes. Although, I have researched that Norway do not have the highest tax rates in the world, but it is certainly one of the highest in terms of amount of taxes paid per person. It is common that one pays over 10,000 USD annually for taxes alone. Ofcourse, one gets it back through the availabke health and social services one could utilize when the need arises.
22. You know the concept of coziness. What is cozy? It is associated with something nice, but in Norway, it is more than that. It is connected to the feeling of warmth physically, mentally or emotionally. So talking with a friend with cup of coffee could be cozy, made more cozy by lighting a candle while seeing a good view of the sea in a cold night. There are ofcourse other ways of attaining coziness. In Norway, one can not fully describe it, but one knows if it cozy or not by merely experiencing it.
23. You appreciate your free time. This is personally something very remarkable in Norway. One works but life is not just about work. The pace is quite slow. One could enjoy the scent and sound of everything. One could literally enjoy the silence and peace of mind this country brings. So inspite of the challenges we foreigners are facing in Norway, we are encouraged still to stay. Norway is a place where one could really appreciate the connection between man and his environment.
These signs are never intended to sum up what is Norway. These are possible signs that one has lived and integrated well in a new society. It will take so long before one could eventually thinkand act like Norwegians does. There are certain things ofcourse which are better done by Norwegians, but there are also good things in my own culture, as well as that of others. We are foreigners in Norway, constituting the multi-cultural sector of the society. Yes, it wouod require effort and resources to be with Norwegians, but to be accepted as we are is another thing. Like any other conservative society, scepticism arises against foreigners. However, that should not hinder anyone to appreciate the good values Norway stands for.