Norwegian culture, Uncategorized

Springtime!

Oh the joy! Spring is finally here after a long, dark, cold and snowy winter! I cannot describe the feeling it gives and unless you live in a raw seasonal place with hard winters and (sometimes) hot summers, it’s hard to comprehend the sensation.

We’ve got some signs of spring other than the temperature going up and the snow melting. I’m going to walk you through them.

  1. Hestehov/Coltsfoot: First spring sign – this flower sticks up through the snow.
  2. Cafes and restaurants set up their serving zones outside: Norwegians sit outside for the whole spring/summer – which is why we have both heaters and umbrellas – in case of rain or cold. Summer is summer and summer is spent outside! Even if it means wearing a scarf.
  3. Humans outside in the streets: People come out of their winter caves to enjoy themselves and  each other.
  4. Sunshine: It speaks for itself.  We are not spoiled…

If you ever want to experience Norwegians at their best, spring is the time to visit! Not only are we happy, we’re friendly too!

So this was a quicky – need to get back out and enjoy while I can. Have a lovely day, reader ❤

På gjensyn!

Norwegian culture

Norwegian culture: Alcohol

Drinking alcohol is essential to the Norwegian culture. How else would we make friends and partners or open up about our feelings? With our social codex it’s hard to connect and to make connections out of nowhere, so what do we do? We drink. Actually we binge. Welcome to a requested topic: Alcohol. I will share with you why we drink and how we drink. And of course why we do Vors (pre-party) before we go out.

It’s not socially acceptable not to drink, unless your pregnant or you’re an recovering alcoholic. Drinking is rooted deep in our culture and is the easiest way for us to feel comfortable with other people. So if you don’t drink, it means that you are an uncomfortable element.  And we certainly don’t appreciate that.  Why, you ask? Well, it’s all about the way we drink. We don’t have a glass of wine for lunch or dinner, we don’t consume a little here and a little there. No, we save up the entire weeks quota and unleash our thirst on Friday or Saturday night. We are hardcore binge drinkers.  And all those feelings, questions and our suppressed courage come out all in one night.  Have you got any idea the anxiety that comes with it knowing that a sober person was watching it all?

The way we go about it is usually with a Vors. We gather at a friends house with twelve beers, a bottle of wine or some easily consumed spirits. This is where we stay until the time reaches about 12 or 1 pm and then move on to a bar or a club. I’ve been asked why we do this and here’s the reason why:

  1. We are binge drinkers. We consume large amounts of alcohol. (Very charming, huh?)
  2. Drinks are f*cking expensive.
  3. We need to get in to a comfortable setting before joining strangers out on the town.

Once our self-confidence is on top and we’re nearly to drunk to get in to any bar, we hit the town, ready to make some new relations. Let me explain with my super skill:

 

Or it may end more like this:

Funny-Drunk-Girls-Sleeping-In-Bathroom-Passed-Out-Picture

Either you got yourself a new friend or you too embarrassed to ever see this person again – till next weekend.

There is a lot more I could explain about our alcohol habits, but because alcohol is such an important and fundamental key to our culture it would make this a very, very long post. Therefore I will save some for a later time and present the different themes to you in coherence with some other topics.  Just note that alcohol is important to us and that our habits don’t mirror the European ways. I guess this has been the Norwegian way since the beginning of time and it will probably never change. That means that we have to change, and we don’t. So if you’re ever visiting and are wondering where all the Norwegians are at 9 pm – give it four more hours and we’ll see you then! Drunk and ready to mingle.

På gjensyn! 

 

Norwegian social codes

Norwegian social codes: An introduction

Norwegian social codes are very hard to crack. To be perceived as aggressive,  to overstep and simply scare Norwegians away is always at high risk when approaching a wild and untamed Norwegian. Especially in our own habitat: Norway.

The Norwegian habitat is very unique. First off we have an enormous amount of space and we are not exactly overpopulated. These two factors combined with thousands of years of evolution (whom am I kidding? We’re pretty much the same) has resulted in a very privacy-orientated people.  I’ll make it visual:

You see, we have the liberty to be private and some of us might not even see another person throughout an entire day. Still there are two aspects to our privacy:

  1. Fewer people makes others opinions of you more valid. The risk of becoming an outcast is higher.
  2. Safety, comfort and strangers. We live in a bubble where everything is known to us, everything unknown is a threat.

And we most certainly do not approach each other without a valid reason. Oooh, the horror! Besides, we do not small talk. Unless we have a common friend. That’s a no-no. I myself enjoy the awkward silence rather than forcing something unnatural, because it is unnatural to Norwegians to make small talk. We are born with social comfort-zones and we stick to them.  Occasionally we integrate some new friendships, but this takes time. A long time. Unless there’s alcohol. We’ll come back to that one at a later time.

A Norwegian might be perceived as antisocial and rude to outsiders. This is not intentionally and if you’ve experienced an awkward situation with a Norwegian where you thought that this person was being very rude – it’s not you, it’s the Norwegian social codex. We do not put ourselves in situations and conversations without intent, anything  unpractical gets dismissed and we most certainly don’t small talk unless we intend to start the long journey of growing a friendship. Or have a serious question we need to work up the courage to ask. We don’t greet strangers and we do not randomly smile at each other – Unless..

  1. You’re in a boat and we happen to cross paths. Waves and smiles are a handed out like candy at Easter. We might even small talk and visit each others boats at the harbor.
  2. Hiking. We always greet fellow hikers, even if we’ve never seen one another before.
  3. Drunk. Like I said, I’ll come back to this one at a later time.

There are always exceptions to the rule, but don’t get overly excited. It’s still at a superficial level. Getting under a Norwegians skin is still a long process. Unless we’re drunk.

A socially awkward Norwegian in her natural habitat. 

A cautious approach is always recommended when crossing paths with a Norwegian, especially in their natural habitat. Too much excitement might just kill the vibe. If you’re eager to learn how to grow a friendship or communicate with a Norwegian, make sure to subscribe by clicking the follow-button either to your right or in the bottom of this page.

På gjensyn! 

Norwegian language

Norwegian language: Dialects part 1

We’ve embarked on Norwegian logic, which will be a permanent category with posts on a regular basis.  Today we will set about the Norwegian language, which is a category in itself.  I dare to say our language is the star of our culture. There’s really nothing quite like the Norwegian language. “What about the Swedes and the Danish?” you might think. Well, they usually don’t understand crap of what Norwegians are saying, even though we understand them perfectly. Maybe not always Danish though. They sound very queer. Like they’re chocking on something. Anyway, the thing is that we Norwegians don’t always understand each other either and I will explain why.

So what do you think happens when you live in a fjord with three other people? You start to talk peculiar and your dialect differ from the people in the forest on the other side of the mountain. Actually Norwegian dialects with it’s significant differences has existed as far back as Norse time and despite population growth since then, I’m willing to bet we have as many dialects as we have villages. No one knows for sure how many there are and some of them are impossible to even identify as Norwegian. I’m not sure that some of our kindred dialect speakers understand each other in between themselves. Even so, the Norwegian language no matter which dialect you speak, is an just as important identity mark as your Bunad. I lied, it’s more important. And because this strong sense of identity emerges from our language and dialects, which can be impossible to understand, we are a people of few words.

few-words

Easy enough, don’t you think? This also counts for the number of Norwegian words, which means we use the same words in different variations of contexts. This might make it very, very tricky for you non-Norwegians out there whom want to learn Norwegian. Let’s do two examples:

Tre:

  1. Plante, f.eks. Gran bjørk, furu. Et tre – flere trær / A tree
  2. Materiale: Eska er laget av tre. I denne formen kan ordet ikke brukes i flertall. / Materialwood 
  3. Handling: Tre i nåla (verb, tre eller træ) Tre, trer, tredde, har tredd / Thread a needle 
  4. Tre frem, tre i kraft (verb, tre eller trå) Tre, trer, trådte, har trådt / Emerge 
  5. Tre, 3 – tallord / The number three 

Heller:

  1. “Jeg vil heller bruke skje enn gaffel.” / Rather
  2. “Han heller vann i glasset.” / Pour 
  3. “Vi skal legge heller på trappa” / Sorry, I have no idea what this is in English.. Some type of stone.
  4. “Det er viktig at baderomsgulvet heller inn mot sluket.” /  Paving

The words does not change in shape or sound, their meaning simply depend on the context. I’m sorry Norwegian-students! We expanded our dialects rather then our vocabulary. By the way, I lied again – the sounds can differ, but only depended on spoken dialect, not the word itself. To make it harder, note that the pronunciation of Norwegian dialects may have nothing to do with our written language.

I appreciate a good Norwegian dialect. First off I grew up moving around the country. I’ve lived in East-Norway (Østlandet, Oslo), West-Norway (Vestlandet, Stavanger) and North-Norway (Nord-Norge, Harstad) and I have family spread out across the country – like those three people in the fjord. My family members speaks all sorts of dialects, but mostly Northern Norwegian (Nordnorsk) and Eastern Norwegian (Østlandsk), although there are hundreds of variations within these categories. I myself speak Østlandsk/Oslo dialect, which often can be perceived as boring by other Norwegians. Reason why? It’s all about character, identity and culture. The raw and untamed Norwegian. And frankly – my dialect is similar to one of our written languages and considered an affiliation to the capital city with it’s tamed, astray Norwegians – shamefully occupied with all things non-Norwegian and lack of  patriotic engagement. Which is not true by the way.. But as a country where villages flourished separate from each other, micro cultures thrive. Our culture is therefore just as complex as our language.

I hope you have enjoyed your first Norwegian lesson and my insane skill of drawing explanations. It will not be the last, there is much more where that came from. And remember: If you feel frustrated that you can’t understand the Norwegian language, use the comfort of knowing that neither do we.

På gjensyn!

Norwegian logic

Norwegian logic: Easter

Welcome back!

To kick things off I’m starting out by introducing you to the fabulous logic of Norwegians – and lets be clear: Our logic makes no sense. Which is why you will able to bask yourself in different angles of Norwegian logic introduced to you on a monthly basis. To really understand what it means to be Norwegian one must accept and live these logical flaws. As a small and barely populated country we go about things and follow trends without asking questions – and this is why we end up with tons of logical flaws. Usually they are minor and less important, but since our politicians are Norwegian after all, we do end up with some weird laws as well. I will get back to that another time and start you off with something koselig (Norwegian word for Cozy. Adjective. A feeling of comfort, both physically and psychologically, often in a social setting). With Easter completed and spring coming there is no better topic than the logic of Norwegian Easter:

For years and years Norwegians have escaped the cities to populate the Norwegian mountaintops for Easter. Although we complain about snow for weeks in advance. The thing is.. Norwegians have got a very schizophrenic relationship with weather. Which I can assure you ranks the top of the list of subjects for small talk (whenever we do small talk). I suspect our strained relationship with snow stems from outer expectations of winter beauty and our amazing skill for skiing. Still, as an outcast Norwegian, I really have no idea why 90% of the population complaints about snow from February to April just to run for the mountaintop as soon as Easter arrive. I will admit that our Easter tradition is bound with our identity and that it does make me feel like a “typical Norwegian” when I do give in to pressure. Still, usually I would participate in Easter activities in the city instead of joining the rest of Norway in the crowded mountains. We’ve even got a word for it: “bypåske” (city Easter) – that’s how important it is to chase snow, so that they can talk about the sad bypåske-people while they ski.

As a child I was always told that going to the mountain and playing outside in the snow was healthy for me. So I put together a little map of what a healthy Easter means:

Norwegians can not have Easter without these things. Or without snow. Which we condemned for the last couple of months. This is the tradition.

That’s Norwegian logic.

På gjensyn!

Uncategorized

The journey

Hi there!

Welcome to my blog The Norwegian way of life.

Why you must wonder? Well, several roads led me to this point. First off I used to blog about fitness and mindfulness, which are two key elements in my life. Eventually I shut it down due to lack of inspiration. There’s only so much one can share without walking around with ones heart on ones sleeve. And as a Norwegian – I really don’t do that. As a hedonist with a love for travelling I did soon discover a response of ideas and assumptions about both Norway and what it means to be Norwegian. In recent years this has developed into a hot topic amongst ourselves as well, especially with multiculturalism knocking on our door. It has never been more important to cherish our culture, built up over thousands of years, and what it really means to be Norwegian. Both as a Norwegian, but also in our global world. I’ve always had a significant interest in what it means to be human and why we think as we do, and more importantly why we do the things we do. This took me through years of philosophy, intellectual history and the studies of utopias in the University of Oslo. All of this mixed with some thirty years of life experience: Here we are!

I’m going to leave some level of mystery as to who I am, but I promise you will get to know me as we go along together. Are you intrigued? Make sure to subscribe by hitting the follow-button on your right hand side.

På gjensyn!