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.
Non-verbal communication is an essential part in a society, as well as understanding the values the community believe in. This reflects a good overview of how communication and tradition have evolved through time. These expressions are never constant, such that meaning changes from time to time, and is greatly affected by the events or the kind of environment one belongs in. Filipinos, being a society with mixed Asian and Western influences have unique facial and body expressions. These are the focus of this blogpost. 1. Silent stare Stares could mean evil look for Filipinos. It may indicate sarcasm or manipulation. It is considered rude to this, especially when in a conversation because it may also indicate disinterest or disrespect. 2. Lip/Eye pointing This is quiet funny gesture common not just in the rural areas, but also in urban communities. It is quiet hard to explain the direction in verbal language, so it is better to point them vaguely, interestingly with the use of lips,
After a very tiring but fulfilling day in the Land of Smiles, we were now ready to take the second and the last day of our short stop in Bangkok. Gaining a good grasp of the Bangkok public transport systen, we tried to avoid taking the taxi to save money and avoid traffic due to the yuletide season. From our hotel, we took the City Airport Link and BTS to the Central Pier of Chao Phraya Boat Express. Using the Orange Line, we took the boat to Tha Tien boat station. The station has some small stalls where one can buy some travel souvenirs. Items are sold starting from 200 baht (50 NOK). After a short walk, we were able to reach the the walls of Grand Palace, our first stop of the day. One must be warned not to take any entrance aside from the major entrance to avoid extra expenses from tour agent,who are taking advantage. There is a strict dress code, so one must avoid exposing too much skin when entering the premise. Since Grand Palace is a major tourist attracti
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. Sandormen It is a wagon pulled by a tractor carrying peop
The world's largest collection of sculptures in a park is attracting one million people every year. The art pieces, which were made from bronze, granite and iron features the appreciation of the human spirit of Norway's most renowned sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Click the link below: http://vimeo.com/65900073 Visiting Vigelandsparken makes one realize things in life, inspired from the different sections of the park: the Main Gate, the Bridge, the Fountain, the Monolith and the Wheel of life. The main gate is very simple but elegant. It features a long pathway towards the main section of the park. It gives the visitor the feeling that life requires a pathway and direction where one should follow through. That direction is the person's purpose in his or her life, that will guide all his or her actions, no matter what situations the person will be experiencing and whoever the person will be meeting. The bridge is one of the most dramatic part of the park, which
Almost everyone wants to travel. Wherever or whatever the purpose may it be, the most important is to break free from the daily routine we have. Due to individual differences and intentions, there exists a number of various types of travelers. In several websites, one could find several ways to categorize these travelers, however, there is a problem in trying to see the uniqueness of each type. Some types as stated in other sources are actual sub-categories of the another. Due to this, I came up of my classification, based on responses to common question pertaining to one's travel personality. Below you can follow through the questions and their expected responses. After that you can share to me what type of traveler are you. From the diagram above, here are the 14 types of travelers: 1. Budget Traveler - a traveler who does not care about where he or she goes as long as it is within his or her budget 2. Planer – a traveler who is very obsess of details and
This is it. The point where everything is decided on which way one would go further in the future. Ofcourse, one is hoping things are going to be what is the best for all, but the chances for the opposite side is also significant. This is the crossing point of one's life. Everything after this will change according to what happens in this point. Everyone surrounding one will change depending on the way events will unfold. The moment everything is known, this will just go as it is. As planned in either ways, things will go as it should be. However, everything is still related to this point. Ambivalence grows further When one knows something will change. One would normally not want things to change from the status quo. Everyone wants to do the same thing as before, not expecting any surprises along the way. Some people cope better after-the-fact than others, but no one is ever prepared to handle the period before the change. The calm before the storm or the gut feeling before the s
Working and living in Norway for over 8 years now have been both rewarding and challenging for me. There are several times that I have questioned myself whether Norway is indeed the right place for me to live, and always I have come up with a positive answer. Nonetheless, this does not guarantee that there are some aspects of the Norwegian society, tradition and culture that shocked me up to this date. This is the focus of this blogpost. 1. Flat organizations This is the most striking feature of most organizations in Norway. The organizational structures are relatively flat, meaning hierarchy is almost just a concept, than reality. The employees can literally ask questions to their superiors. Politicians are somehow accessible. There are bureaucratic problems, but in general, communication for top-level managers and the usual employees is open. This highlights that Norwegians value the concept of teamwork among employees to attain its goals, rather than blindly following top-down instr
I am a proud Filipino but there are some aspects of the Filipino culture that needs to be improved. These improvements are impossible if everybody thinks there is no need for them, so I start with my contribution by recognizing these in this blogpost. 1. Learn to wait. No Filipino can wait. We all find ways to be ahead of the others. We are known for this. We simply can not wait as if there is no other chance to do a certain thing. As a result, chaos results, which is reflected in the systems we have either in large-scale government services or in ourselves as well. 2. Learn to think before talking. Feed a Filipino an attractive title of an article or news, he or she is able to form opinions even without knowing and understanding the story. I call this "Facebook mentality of hastiness." As a result, most non-Filipinos do not take us seriously, because we are more noisy than smart. 3. Learn to respect differences and opinions. Every Filipino thinks everyone should conf
Living in Norway for over 2 years, I have often encountered questions about the languages I speak. I usually answered I speak Norwegian, English and two Filipino languages. Then, people start asking if the second Filipino language is a dialect of the other. Given my mother tongue is Cebuano, the second language referred, I abruptly debunk the misconcept that it is a mere dialect. My most common explanation is that all Filipinos speak the Filipino language, but those who only learn to speak Filipino have difficult time understanding or communicating with one speaking Cebuano. Throughout the span of my childhood, I got to grasp the political and cultural differences of Filipinos speaking Filipino language or Tagalog as referred by most, and those coming from the Southern Philippines speaking Cebuano. The language in itself has become the boundary between the two groups of people. Due to their innate differences, misunderstandings result, not because of mere language confusion, but of cu