29 Jan 2010

Wanna be a Snusmumriken?

One of the artefacts of Norwegian pretty boys with gelled hair is snus. Snus is simply a moist powder tobacco product, which is consumed by placing it under the lip for extended periods of time in purpose of get high with nicotine. To begin with, in the 16th century Snuff – pulverized tobacco - was invented by Jean Nicot as a migraine remedy. Later in the 19th century Swedish producers began to manufacture local brands of moist snuff placed under the upper lip which did not require spitting, and became known as snus. The sale of snus is illegal in the European Union (Euro-Lex), but due to exemptions, it is still manufactured and consumed primarily in Sweden and Norway, although it is now available in the United States. As I noticed it is commonly consumed in Norway also during the classes in the university. What is more, I don’t really know what intentions Tove Jansson had – Swedish-speaking Finnish novelist – placing SNUSmumriken (Snusmumriken) as one of the creature in Moominvalley. One thing I know about Snusmumriken is that he wears old green clothes and a wide brimmed hat he's had since birth. He lives in a tent, SMOKES A PIPE, plays the harmonica and Tove based him on her friend and one-time fiancé, Atos Wirtanen (Atos Wirtanen).

While snus is returning to favor there is a public debate whether it is safer for human life than cigarettes or not. As far as I am concerned the nicotine is one of the most toxic and addicting of all chemical substances I know. Since I gave up smoking I’m in loyal opposition against any form of nicotine consumption. Snus is actually one of this ways and it contains nicotine as well. Otherwise, there are some advantages of using snus. First, it obviously doesn’t cause lung cancer, because it isn’t been smoked. Second, it doesn’t make surrounding inhale the destructive smoke. On the other hand, snus still remains a stimulant containing a nicotine, which is unnecessary for human life. Moreover, it is horrible for teeth and still rip-off.
Finally, I want to congratulate Swedish and Norwegian governments that men in these both countries have the lowest rate of lung cancer in Europe (according to WHO).

25 Jan 2010

Joke related to Norwegian poker face :I

Ole and Lena went to a fair. Ole was fascinated by the airplanes and asked a pilot how much a ride would cost.
- $10 for 3 minutes. - replied the pilot.
- That's too much. - said Ole.
The pilot thought for a second and then said:
- I'll make you a deal. If you and your wife ride for 3 minutes without uttering a sound, the ride will be free. But if you make a sound, you'll have to pay $10.
Ole and Lena agreed and went for a wild ride. After they landed, the pilot said to Ole:
- I want to congratulate you for not making a sound. You are a brave man.
- Maybe so. - said Ole - but I gotta tell ya, I almost screamed when my wife fell out.

18 Jan 2010

A bunch of strange and weird things about Norway

The most commonly used words by me in the first days in Oslo were strange and weird associated with behaviour, food and rules. I mean strange and weird in a positive sense, sometimes funny. I’ve listed some of the strangest and weirdest things in Norway. Let’s see how it looks:

(1) People. In Norway in 2009 lived 508 000 immigrants (Statistics of Norway), which means 10,6 percent of the whole population. I wasn’t surprised when I transferred it to reality, because 1 per 10 citizens in Norway truly comes from Africa, Asia, Americas or other European country. The most apparent amongst them are Black Africans and Indians. Just imagine them living in this snowy and cold country. Surely, they must be attracted by something here, what let them live in this climatic conditions.

And now, focus on Norwegians. Norwegians are friendly, they smiling very often and are happy all the time like in Truman Show, but reserved, while in my country they would be seen as simply retarded. However, you will often get a rational and positive response if taking initiative. By taking initiative you must remember that they seems to be easy going and informal. If you want to see how they show astonishment, just call one male Norwegian Mr. and try to shake hand with him. In response to him don’t show your astonishment because of their directness, they usually say what they think without unnecessary words. One more advice, be discrete when looking at Norwegian and don’t stare. To sum up, Norwegian don’t seem to have a craving for blood, fire, pillage and conquest as their famous ancestors – Vikings.

Why aren't they plundering now? Maybe the answer lies in their wealth. How did Norway become a rich country? Mostly due to petrol and natural gas from the North Sea, but other industries connected with the sea or water make up an important part of the income. Before Phillips Petroleum Company discovered petroleum resources at the Ekofisk field in 1969 (About this discovery) Norway was poor fish & ship seller.

(2) Prices. Incredibly high. Especially alcohol, while wine (bottle of good Spanish wine costs ca 100NOK) and hard drinks (vodka costs ca 300NOK) may be only bought in state-owned Vinmonopolet when you are 20 or more. That's why Norway is called "dry" country. I think Norwegians don’t matter about prices, because they average yearly income is somewhere in the region of 220000NOK (USD36 600). Income tax is somewhere from 28% to 49% with more tax paid if you earn more money (health care and pension funds make up a flat 7.8% of your tax) (About incomes in Norway). So it still left enough money to deal with high prices. One special thing is that service and tax are included in all prices you see (What You See Is What You Pay), so tips are not expected here.

(3) Food. There will be separate post about it.

(4) Language. Sounds absolutely strange for me, like a jabber. It is quite similar to German, but in writing to Danish. Norwegian language has three special letters:

Æ as in mad, Ø as in blurt, Å as in hall

Norway has three official languages: Bokmål, Nynorsk and Sami. Bokmål stems from the written Danish introduced during the Union of Denmark and Norway. On the other hand, Nynorsk was created as a written language by the language scholar Ivar Aasen (About Ivar Aaasen). Sami, a member of the Finno-Ugric of languages is a minority language used by the indigenous Sami people. Two famous words Norwegian has exported to other languages: ski and fjord. While fjord is simply a sea intrusion into the land, formed by glaciers, skiing is their national sport. Norwegians will actually get orgasmic telling you how much they love cross country skiing and they will encourage you to try this. They absolutely love it!

The good thing for foreigners is that every Norwegian independently of age have a very good command of English.

(5) Drivers’ politeness on the street. It’s not a joke, what is unbelievable in Poland comes true in Norway. Drivers in Oslo drive their vehicles like they were made of porcelain. Maybe it wouldn’t be as surprising as I had known fines ranks. What is more shocking, they always let the pedestrian cross the street on the pedestrian crossing.

(6) The next, but not last weird thing I've noticed in Norway are slippers of my Norwegian roommate.Well, I think these are traditional Norwegian slippers and suppose they’re itching and I’m sure they’re stinking.

11 Jan 2010

Indroduction and Oslo arrival

In the coldest week Norway has experienced for years, with degrees down to minus 28 degrees of Celsius, I have arrived to Sandefjord Torp airport at nearly 9 a.m. January 4th and ubiquitous darkness hugged snow-covered Norwegian ground. The first question came to my mind at that moment was: why have I chosen Norway as my Erasmus destination?

The answer is simple. I have chosen one of the best business school in Europe situated in Oslo, it is very well funded programme and everyone speaks English here. Each year, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) produces the Human Development Report, which ranks the countries of the world according to such factors as income, education and life expectancy. In 2009 UNDP ranked Norway as the best country in the world to live in, for the ninth year in a row (UNDP statistics). Meanwhile, my country is placed 41st.

The purpose of this blog is to verify the claim that Norway is the best place to live with my Erasmus adventure description as a background. I do hope this blog will not offend anybody and I do hope you will enjoy reading as much as I enjoying my experience here. I am only going to share my feelings and considerations with you, so I encourage you to comment my posts, which will be well regarded. Furthermore, I do hope to carry out some kind of discussion, which will provide better conclusions.