10 Sociocultural Differences Between Norway and the Philippines
Soon, I would mark my sixth year of living in Norway. It is difficult to sum up the past six years in few words. A lot of things I have experienced, and many people I have encountered. At least, I could say I have learned a lot during this period. However, what makes it more challenging for me as an immigrant in Norway is the contrast in cultures and social norms between my home country, the Philippines and Norway. Both countries were ranked high in different survey of happiness, depending on how happiness is defined on these surveys. And this concept of happiness is reflected in the norms in both countries. In this blogpost, I would enumerate ten of these cultural differences.
1.Love for nature
I could say that both Philippines and Norway have been blessed with beautiful landscapes. Philippines is known for its beaches, while Norway has fjords giving way to beautiful unique sceneries not found in other countries. However, there is a big difference between how nature is used. The Philippines has also forests, but it is not a popular place to go to. Private individuals and companies can hinder access to the beach, but in Norway, there exists universal right to pass by someone’s property whether it is located in the forest or along the coastline. One could say, no one owns the beach. I see that this is a motivating factor for people to go for a walk in nature in Norway. Residents in Norway accustomed to use their free time, perhaps on the weekends for this. It is a popular social activity for both family and friends.
2.Focus on climate change
Norway is located near the Arctic region, while the Philippines lies near the equator. Both regions feel the effects of a warming planet. Norway has never experience very warm summers and relatively less snow in the winter. New plant species have come also in Norway due to warming temperate climate. The Philippines, on the other hand, has experience very powerful typhoons the world has never seen. Some animal and plant species are threatened to be extinct in the coming years. However, policies on climate are taken more seriously in Norway. There are improvements on the level of environmental awareness in the recent years in the Philippines, but there is a long way to go before it would be comparable to that of Norway.
Norway has a state church. When a Norwegian is born, they are automatically members of the church, until they opt out or stay as such. However, participation in religious activities is significantly low in the Scandinavian country. More and more people identify themselves as atheist or non-religious. It would seem not a problem though, as Norwegian culture is heavily based on mutual understanding and kindness. So one could say, people in Norway are not religious but are generally kind. On the other hand, the power of the Church in the Philippines is overwhelming. It has affected all aspects of the lives of people, their beliefs and even decision-making. The Philippines is becoming less conservative in the recent years, but it would take decades perhaps before it achieves the same level of liberalism in Norway.
4.Family as more personal
Family is more personal and close-knit in the Philippines. The head of family has the responsibility to take care of the family, and decide on matters involving members. Prestige is something all Filipino families aim to have. Filipino parents send their children for school to lift the socio-economic status of the family. There is a collective effort to achieve such goal. Moreover, family members spend time together very often, primarily during mealtime. It is actually almost the same with food and family in Norway, but to a lesser extent. Eating is more frequent in the Philippines.
Moreover, family seems more emphasized in the Filipino society, rather than the individual. The individual could be compromised for the benefit of the whole family. This is the primary reason why a lot of Filipinos migrate to other countries to support their family. Head of the family needs to be consulted every time there is an important decision even at a personal level. It is also expected for children to give back, and support the whole family after they have finished school and gained work. This is based on the belief that it is the children’s parents who sacrificed most just to send their children to school. This is rare phenomenon in Norway.
In Norway, the government seems to have more control on family matters. Parents are obliged by law to spend time for their children especially right after delivery of a baby. The government somehow has encroached how things are to be done at home. When is it possible to leave a child alone at home, when is parental control is too much or not enough - these are decided by the government. The government takes an active role in filling the need for care, especially when the rights of a child is compromised, or when there is a need for more care and services for family members, for example, the elderly. In the Philippines, if the parents can not fulfill their duties, other family members in the extended family are somehow obliged to take over this role. At least someone would assume the responsibility for the family, and the government is not expected to help directly in anyway.
Philippine education is not fully recognized in Norway. It is very interesting to know this. The main reason the Norwegian government give is that Philippine education lacks the number of years of basic education. 12 or more in Norway, and just 10 in the Philippines. This is contentious for the Norwegian government to push for this statement. Norway also expounds that cheating is rampant in the Philippines, such that one could just buy professional degrees, without going to school. This is a generalization based on rumors or truth just for very few.
Yes. That is possible in the Philippines. However, most professional degrees require a licensure examination. Results are published online so it is transparent. Those who get the highest marks also are known nationwide with their corresponding grades. We are talking about competing among thousands of new graduates each year. That is a tough thing. This stems from the competition-driven education system. Students from 5 years old are ranked regularly in school, sometimes every 3 months based on their academic performance, and even curricular activities. Should one not excel, he or she is considered inferior. That stigma lasts for a lifetime.
Furthermore, when a subject has a time allotment of 1 hour weekly, it does not mean students spend only one hour for it. That means the teacher would be expected to conduct lecture discussions in one hour, and the students would do the rest. We are talking of multiple teachers doing so. There is no document showing how much effort a student has for a single subject, so concluding Philippine education lacks quality is baseless and immature. Also, teachers do not accept just a mediocre work. They lash out students for not giving their best. It is not enough to be recognized as good. The aim is to be the best. Hence, some teachers would expect one to memorize textbooks word-for-word and text students word-for-word just after an overnight preparation for it. This is something I myself have experienced.
Upholding equal rights to all, regardless of gender, religion and color is difficult. In Norway, there are still problem with this, especially with religion and race. Laws are very clear and direct on discriminating anyone but in reality it does exist. However, this is happening in a subtle way. In the Philippines, generally everyone is given equal opportunity and freedom in the superficial level. However, a right of people belonging to the so-called third gender is not enshrined in the constitution. They are tolerated but not fully protected. They are stigma around it, and the conservatives would even associate them to something evil and illegal. Nonetheless, there is no death penalty given to them, which is something comforting.
With regards to race, Filipinos are somewhat influenced by colonialism. Those with fairer skin color are respected than the others. One could be a victim of mobbing just because one has brown skin color, or curly hair. However, this trend is changing significantly. With regards to religion, this is something getting better. Personally, Filipinos tolerate Muslims better than Norwegian. The fact is according to statistics, the percentage of population adhering to Islam belief in Norway and the Philippines are similar. The difference lies just on the degree of tolerance. Unfortunately. Muslim are met more with skepticism in Norway than in the Philippines. Perhaps, the non-immigrant ethnic Norwegians are homogenous than multicultural Filipinos, a mixed of west and east.
7.Relationship as a partnership.
Filipino society is patriarchal. The head of family is respected and dominates the whole family. This mentality is carried even to personal relationship. There will always be someone who would dominate in the relationship, more often men. This gives a form of ownership rather than partnership in relationship. Therefore, partnered Filipinos are very conservative, often jealous, and somehow romantic, believing there is only one person they could end up living with, that is, the person they would marry. Hence, marriage is considered sacred and supposedly long-lasting even though the relationship is failing.
In Norwegian society, relationship is seen in a liberal lens. Marriage is a contract which could end if the conditions are no longer met. There is no stigma around marrying more than one person in a lifetime. The most important is that relationship is functioning in practical way. Should something is no longer function, individuals involved would talk and sort out how could they find a solution to the problem, or just end the marriage. No one is expected to dominate entirely in the relationship. Women could decide on their own, even how to use their free time. Men do not carry the financial burden alone for the family. It is usually a partnership between two consenting individuals.
8.Criticisms as more personal.
This is very evident among Filipinos. If someone would criticize another, this is considered a threat to one’s personal integrity. This is a source of irritation for the majority. This becomes worse, when someone has a unpopular idea or belief. One’s thoughts and beliefs are closely-linked to their personality. Should one has a weird thought, so he or she has an aberrant or deviant personality. In Norway, criticisms are part of personal growth. One could fully express one’s objection to another without fear. However, the other person would not be expected to change just because he or she was criticized. An individual decides what he or she wants, regardless what the other says to him, even though it is deemed beneficial to that person.
9.Concept of body
The concept of body is very different in two cultures. In Norway, you are either fit or healthy. It means one should do everything to look good or feel good. One is not expected to look good, but as long as the person is satisfied with his or her body, so there is no problem. However, indirectly Norwegian social norms push for fit body. This is why going to the gym is very popular, if not going long walks and runs are highly recommended. Furthermore, this affects what people in Norway eat. They usually have control in eating sweets. It is seen as a seldom comfort food that should not ingested regularly.
In the Philippines, the body is considered a vessel of food. Food is associated with wealth. Those who can afford food are expected to eat good food, so it is natural that they gain weight. This normalizes overweight. There are even some Filipinos, who would believe that gaining weight is linked with less stress. People have nothing to do and think of, so it would be natural for them to eat. However, this trend is changing as well. However, I would be correct to assume that going to the gym or maintaining a fit body is one of the least priority among Filipinos.
10.Concept of survival and life
Survival is the utmost goal for Filipinos. Hunger is always a present individual threat. The fear of getting poor, hungry and thirst is always there. People would always aspire to be rich and famous, just to secure a future with less fear. The competition for access for resources is high, so one has to be creative, unique and courageous enough to withstand obstacles in life. I would say in the Philippines, it is the survival of fittest, those who are weak get some empathy but not so much help and respect.
In Norway, a good life is a life full of satisfaction. Norwegian lifestyle is somewhat hedonistic. It is grounded on getting the best pleasures in life. They have vacation very often and meet their friends whenever it is possible. Surviving is more of the psychological one, rather than physiological. Food and basic needs are available to almost everyone. Almost all have access to opportunities. However, even residents of Norway are blessed by being served food in silver spoon, some of them would still complain for not getting the best of what they think they deserve. Understandably, Norway is richer than the Philippines. However, that necessarily mean a difference on how people from the two cultures view life in general.
Obviously there are cultural differences between the Norwegian society and that of the Filipinos. Interestingly, these schism is more evident as I lived longer in Norway. Perhaps, I got to see how these differences really are in the reality. I get to talk to more people and experience more. These differences somehow has made confused about which culture fits for me. I have lived in the Philippines most of my life, but I see that Norway now has become my home. However, culture is relative they say. The only thing I can do is select the best of two cultures and apply it in my life. That is perhaps the best solution.
Monarchy has reigned in Prague for several decades before the German
annexation and Socialist rule. This is an important part of the Czech history
retained until to this dates. Several buildings, structures and churches
provides a glimpse of the rich past of the Czech nation. However, the
fascinating transition of power from and to the Czech people in the recent
centuries had shaped the country to what it is known today. During my short visit in Czech Republic, I went to several places. This
is the Part 2. Click here for Part 1. 1.Chotkovy
the first public park in Prague and spreads under the Summer Palace of Queen
Anne. This park follows the English style in the creation of park, on which
there are many pathways around the area, with multitude of plant varieties. 2.Letohrádek
formerly called the Math House, which is Renaissance building in the Prague
Castle in the Royal Garden. This was constructed for recreational purposes such
as royal balls and festiv…
After exploring the third largest city in Sweden, we went directly to Copenhagen, Denmark; which is just about 30 minutes by train. We arrived in the Danish capital at night, so decided to rent out the cheapest decent place we can find, just for us to relax and sleep. Initially, I planned the tour to be so relaxed given that we have plenty of time in the area. However, due to a very bad morning weather, we ended up seeking shelter in the beautiful churches in the area, while attending masses and being amazed by the architecture of the structures we visited. In spite of these travelling challenges, we got to explore Copenhagen as much as possible within a single day. I forgot to mention that we did explore Copenhagen WITHOUT using the train and bus. I did not intend to do this, just to save money; but the circumstances lead me to choose that way. As we seek shelter from the cold, windy weather, I realized most of the attractions were closely-located. There were times, I wanted to take th…
one-third of the entire GDP of the Swedish nation, Stockholm has became an
important headquarters of major companies in the Scandinavian peninsula. This
is the reason why immigrants have streamed in the Swedish metropolis in seek of
better opportunities. Due to this
multicultural characteristic, Stockholm is unique in its own from other Nordic
countries. This has led me to embark into a visit on the Swedish capital for
two days. Click for the first day of the Stockholm visit. 1. Adolf Fredriks Kyrka
This church is named after Adolf Frederick, who was
controversial for failing to reacquire the Baltic provinces in favor of Sweden.
The cemetery surrounding the church is where Rene Descartes, the mathematician
who introduced the Cartesian coordinate system was buried. 2. St. Johannes kykogård
This church is one of the two experiment parishes of
the Swedish diocese of Stockholm. Interestingly, the aim of the church is
lessen the number of people who feel lonely. This somehow …
Situated in the largest port of the Scandinavian peninsula lies the second largest Swedish city of Gothenburg. This city has deepen my understanding on the Nordic history, culture and tradition through a short vacation. Given that Gothenburg is maritime-oriented fortress city along the Gothia river, many ancient empires had interest on strategically-located area, as well as group of people aiming to reap benefits after gaining authority in the city. In fact, Gothenburg was heavily influenced by the Dutch, Germans and the Scots, who were tasked to develop the city given the swampy terrain of the area. Moreover, Gothenburg, located along the western Swedish coast, so in history has been a harbour for trade and emigration for Swedes bound for United States. All of these have made me interested on this city, so in this blogpost, I will enumerate and describe the various places I have seen within my two-day visit on the Swedish urban center. Click here for the second day.1. Nordstan and Cen…
One thing that makes me proud of being Filipino is that there are many good singers in our country. I am not saying that the Philippines has the best singers in the world, but it is obvious that many Filipinos have showed to the world the God-given talent they have. 1. Parents encourage their children to develop their singing talents
Children singing old songs and acting as if the song fits them well. Love songs, rock, whatever genre songs maybe Filipino children can sing that. Some even report that children learn humming a melody before able to speak well. Ofcourse, parents are very crucial in the development of this talents. If a talent has been acknowledged at an early age, this provides time for child to improve his or her talent in singing. Watch the newly-launced TV show Voice Kids Philippines.
2. Competition helps produce more good singers
The most-watched Television shows in the Philippines are singing competition. Most artists are discovered in these platform. Some even grew i…
Korean culture has amazed and attracted people to visit the country.
This has since part of my travel list, since it is not far away from my home
country the Philippines, so I embarked in a journey into the South Korean
metropolis. There I learned a lot about Korean history and the nation who are
obviously proud of their heritage and tradition, which has been threatened
several times in history. Seoul is considered the world’s second largest metropolis. It is a quite
amazing that this city is a reminder of the South Korean nation courage and
perseverance to turn their country into one of the most richest countries in
the world after being significantly destroyed during the Japanese occupation of
World War 2 and the subsequent Korean civil war, which cut deeply between the
North and South Korea. With regards to tourism, Seoul is among the top ten most visited city in
the world and has become a role model of other Asian cities to become as progressive
as Seoul is today – a leading and ris…
Berlin is associated with the Cold War. The ideological schism between democracy and socialism has caused this city to be literally divided into West and East Berlin. Interestingly, the landscape of the German capital being crisscrossed by the canals of the river Spree aided in this physical separation. Furthermore, the city's history reminds of the disunity among Roman Catholics and Protestants during the Protestant Reformation during the Renaissance Period, and the alienation or annihilation of the Jews by the Nazis during the First and Second World War. These facts are sufficient reasons to embark into a historical adventure the German nations capital, Berlin.
Located along the
Amstel River, the largest Dutch city, Amsterdam is one of the most important European
port and cultural hub since ancient times when the city became diamond and
financial center. Aside from its magnificent canals, Amsterdam is proud of its
unique blend of conservatism and freedom, which attracts almost five million
tourists every year. Being the center of commerce during the Dutch Golden Age
and their colonial past, Amsterdam certainly has a rich history to present for
visitors around the world could relate and associate from where they come from.
The beautiful Dutch city is a dream city for me to visit so when I got the opportunity to fulfill this, I did not hesitate, especially during the Yuletide season. I get to celebrate Christmas while learning how the Dutch city emerged as a global city from its rich historic past to where it is now.
Being the Danish nation’s northernmost town, Skagen is
known for the Skagen Odde peninsula located in the North Jutland Island. The
town also houses the world largest fish oil factory. The sand and fish port
factors make vacations to Skagen peninsula a very unique experience. This has
been made more special during my visit in the winter season in February when
spring pauses occur. Thus, my short trip became a combination of sun, snow and
sand in Skagen. Skagen Fyr
The Skagen Lighthouse was a reconstruction of the
White Lighthouse, which is primarily used for exhibitions nowadays. This
lighthouse has been useful in preventing invasion of the Danish capital
Copenhagen by Western countries like the Great Britain. Grenen
This is Denmark’s northernmost tip where
the North Sea and the Baltic Sea meet. Grenen literally means the branch,
showcases a very beautiful landscape and sea horizon.
It is a wagon pulled by a tractor carrying people who
want to visit Grenen in Skagen from the parki…
Arriving almost 8 in the morning in Suvarnabhumi Airport in the Bangkok, Thailand, I already expected
my first day in the capital will be short and tiring after 10 hours of travel
from Oslo, Norway. From the airport, we traveled about half an hour to our
hotel towards the taxi. Learning from the experience ask first the
taxi driver how much he will charge. I and my sister experienced paying four
times the average fare. Well, I do not want to stress myself, so I just brush
it off. Another thing, I noticed it was difficult to communicate in English
with the taxi driver and even the hotel receptionists. The communication
barrier became a problem for us in the entire trip. Our goal is to cover as many places in Bangkok
as possible using the least amount of resources and time. To do this, I
prepared a draft schedule of our itinerary throughout our short stay. After we left our hotel, we went directly
to the nearest City Airport Link. We stopped at Phaya Thai Station and paid 40
baht (10 NO…