Before I came here I read and heard some things about Norwegians and their culture. But you only know how Norwegian people really are when you live here and make your own experiences in this country.
Since August I am here in Kristiansand for an exchange semester. I am from North-Germany. Before I came here I read and heard some things about Norwegians and their culture. But you only know how Norwegian people really are, when you live here and make your own experiences in this country. In the following, I list the most striking facts about Norwegians based on the experiences I made. Probably you will find yourself in one or another fact. :)
1. Norwegians love milk.
The first time I wanted to buy milk in a Norwegian supermarket, I was really confused: kultur, summet kultur, ekstra lett, lett, skummet, hel. My Norwegian is not really good, so all I saw were the different colors dark blue, light blue, turquoise, pink, rose and red which didn’t say anything to me. I didn’t have internet to look up the words in a dictionary, so I called a friend to translate it for me. It felt like, I stood half an hour in front of this fridge staring at the colors and listening carefully to my friend’s words. Meanwhile, the natives seem to know exactly what they want and just picked the milk bottle they needed.
In Germany, we have maybe three different types of milk: full cream milk, UHT milk and low-fat milk. That’s it! And we are completely satisfied with that. Norwegian people seem to have very individual wishes concerning milk. I’m just satisfied if the supermarket offers milk at all.
2. Norwegians love pizza.
I’ve read before that pizza is like a national dish in Norway. Norwegians don’t like the thin italian style, but the big american one.
I’m not a big fan of the pizza they offer in the cafeteria at university or in other snack bars. The duff is dry and the covering has a boring taste, but maybe I didn’t find the right snack bar yet. Also, I have the impression that there are no standard pizzas I know from Germany like pizza salami, pizza hawaii, pizza funghi and pizza tuna. The covering seems always to be mixed with many different stuff like salad, avocado, meat balls, bacon and even tortilla chips! And on the pizza, Norwegians put again sour cream dressing. Sorry, I have to say that: You ruin the pizza!
3. Norwegians hate tea.
The first time, I stood in front of the tea shelf, I was shocked. Barely tea, plus very expensive. I love tea! Black tea is my standard drink in the morning. Tea is very nice when the weather is cold. In combination with chocolate, it’s the best.
When I was ill, I went to a chemist’s shop to search for tea. But they didn’t have any tea at all! In Germany, we have tea for every kind of illness: tea against cold, tea against cough, gastroenteritis-tea, waterworks-tea,…You can buy it in every supermarket and it’s also a very cheap and good medicine.
4. Norwegians love their country.
Never compare Norway to other countries! When I expressed my surprise about the lack of tea and the good side about Germany, the chemist told me without ambiguity with her eyes: “Don’t dare to do that again!”
Norwegians are very proud of their country. Everywhere you see a Norwegian flag. In Germany, we would never come up with the idea of doing that, because of our history. Only during the football World Cup, we are very patriotic and show the German flag on our car and windows.
5. Norwegians love nature.
When I came to Kristiansand by airplane, I was fascinated by the amazing nature you could see from above. Norway is a beautiful country. Even the houses which are made of wood and seem to melt into the nature. Everything looks so harmoniously and gives you a good feeling when you are outside.
When I sat in the car here the first time on my way to Trolltunga, I could not stop staring out of the window: so many lakes, waterfalls and mountains. Untouched nature. In between, some small houses with grass on the roofs. I, myself, could not live so isolated. This is only for people, who really have a passion for nature and calmness.
6. Norwegians don’t know cold weather.
There just have to be a few sunbeams and Norwegians take all their jackets and long clothes off and walk around in T-shirts, shorts and sandals – even though it’s not more than fourteen degrees! Meanwhile I only go out with my cagoule, sturdy shoes and jeans and meet Norwegians with disbelief. “There is no bad weather, just bad clothes.” This is a standard slogan I hear in Norway. I think, it should be called different: “There is bad weather in Norway, but Norwegians don’t care!” I grant them the feeling of summer. And I wish to have Norwegian genes against coldness.
7. Norwegians can’t wait for winter.
Once, I was on my way to school and I heard a clicking noise behind me. I thought, it would be someone who walks on crutches. But when the person passed me, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was even too perplexed to laugh about it. A man in a sports suit was moving in something that looked like a mix of ski and inline-skater with two sticks in his hands. I’ve never seen that before. Ski without snow? That looks wrong.
Somebody told me, that would be a sport which prepares you for winter ski. It’s called “roll-ski”.
I still have to laugh internally when I see someone doing this.
8. Norwegians don’t like blinking.
As a pedestrian, I troubled over car drivers many times here. Norwegians don’t like to blink when they have to turn right or left. This is annoying when you wait for a car to pass and then realize by the slowly driving that it wants to turn where you are standing. It does not take much effort to use the blinker.
9. Norwegians love paying with credit card.
You pay everything here by credit card, no matter what, no matter the price. In Germany, once I wanted to buy something for five euros (about 45 crones) and pay with card because I didn’t have any cash anymore. The cashier was shocked and annoyed at the same time and said: “Are you serious?”
Here in Norway, it’s normal. Even the coffee and tea automat in the cafeteria only functions with credit card, what was really annoying to me when I forgot my card. I only know automats where you have to put a coin or a banknote inside.
I also feel to have more control over my finances, when I see the money. But it also has advantages not to have the need to go to a bank to withdraw money.
10. Norwegians don’t like deodorant spray.
In no supermarket I found deodorant spray. And I only like the spray version. But you only seem to have roll-on deos.
What shocks me even more is that you don’t have a drugstore that is specialized in cosmetics, care products, health products (like tea!), baby products and household products. Where do you buy your shampoo and shower gel for example? In the supermarket? In a clothing store like H&M?
Sorry for making a comparison, but this is really important: In Germany, we have drugstores like “Rossmann” and “DM” where you can buy all those things. They have a big offer of many different brands for shampoo, tooth paste, make-up and and and.
Someone told me, that people here buy make-up online. You have to wait for ages for that package!
That kind of store is something I really miss from Germany. But I also have to say that the nature here outweighs everything again!
Text and photos: Quyhn Le Nguyen