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.

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