Through my eyes

Norway is a great country. It is in fact the fourth richest country in the world and second richest in Europe after Luxembourg (http://www.gfmag.com/component/content/article/119-economic-data/12538-the-richest-countries-in-the-world.html#axzz2icsbX0QK). I have now been here for about two months and there are things I have noted. This article will unveil some of these amazing observations about Norway and her people…

1. Closed people: The Norwegians are highly closed up; they are very personal and private with their lives. And they only open up after they have known you; which takes time. This is demonstrated in the way most people behave while on buses; they put on headphones (which could at times be very huge) just to shut others out. I remember this particular time while on the bus; and with my daring nature, I tried to say hi to the person who was seated next to me… What I received: a strong gaze and a face that could only be interpreted as saying “What on earth is wrong with this young man? Is he crazy!!” Everyone needs their space and one must be very deliberate in investing both emotionally and in time to win their trust.

2. People enjoy lots of camping: It is very common for Norwegian families to go out into the woods and stay there for a whole weekend. Most families here do have their own cabins in the forests, where they can always just go as a family to recollect themselves or to know each other more…

ImageOne interesting thing is that they are duly willing to take walks in their “swampy forests” for up to six hours, and they never easily tire… I joined on one of these hikes, and though it was tough going up, it was really refreshing chatting on the way, encouraging one another and helping each other to the end of the journey.

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3. The apartments system: One thing that still remains significant in this society is the apartments. In Norway, or at least in Trondheim, people live together (up to and including six) each with their bedrooms but they share common facilities like the kitchen and bathroom. What amazed me is that both men and women (or should I say, ladies and gentlemen) could coexist together… It is an interesting arrangement; that has essentially worked for long and is generally acceptable!

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4. The coffee habit: I have been privileged to visit four Norwegian homes in my short stint in Norway. While in these homes, I noted that there is an inherent consistent culture of always taking coffee after dinner (the evening meal). This is usually accompanied by some “home-baked cake”. I must reiterate here that they take their coffee (which is relatively very strong) without any sugar except a little milk at times! They apparently consume lots of coffee despite the fact that they don’t grow any…

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5. Meal times: In this lovely country, people eat as and when they are hungry. The meal times could slightly vary but the most definite one is having breakfast in the morning at around 8am; some fruit/coffee break at around 10am; some lunch at around 1pm; dinner at around 5pm, and supper at around 8pm. Here, it is not the names of the meals that matter but the times. And, importantly, I realized that bread is a very central part of each and every one of their meals except the dinner. Dinner is also the only warm meal here… Did I say that they can also eat from anywhere: when on the street, when seated in the bus, while walking, and even when in meetings. They usually carry packed lunch called “matpakke”, that usually comprises braed with other additives.

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6. The weather: While in Nairobi, Kenya, at some point I nearly thought that the weather pattern was quite unpredictable. I no longer hold the same view right now! Norway has the most unpredictable weather pattern that I have ever witnessed. It could actually be very sunny in the morning with a notable warmth of up to 15 degrees; and one could easily be fooled into not putting on warmly! Within a few minutes, the temperatures could have gone as low as 0 degrees yet the sun could still be on! There is a time I made this fatal mistake and I danced the regret music… The weather is extremely unstable and very irregular. As such, they keep truthfully stating that “There is never bad weather, only bad clothing”. So somebody has to keep dressing appropriately at all times. That may mean walking with a backpack at all times; with your warm clothes just in case….

7. The midnight sun: Amazing and colorful was my arrival in Norway. I witnessed the presence of the sun past 11pm in the night. This was so cool but also very confusing… How does someone know when to sleep and when to wake up!? Seeing this made me realize the need for the clock and to appreciate the seasons. Of course having the sun on all through means more “day” even while it is night and it is quite a beautiful scenery!

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8. The language: Norwegians love their language very much.They will, therefore, appreciate anyone who makes an effort to reach out to them but in their own loanguage. Thus, despite having learnt English in school for very many years, most of the young Norwegians still don’t have the confidence to sustain a conversation in English. This has come with my realizing that most of the Norwegians, both young and old, men and women alike, make very trivial yet pronouned grammatical mistakes. In Norwegian grammar, there is no plural for “er=is; and var=was”. Consequently, they tend to directly translate into English. It is quite amusing to hear a reputable person say something like “My friends DOESN’T like talking on the bus” or “My parents IS coming to visit me today” or “All my books WAS eaten”. But I guess this is simply what categorises our differences.

9. Shopping: In Norway, there is a lot of emphasis on conserving the environment. As such, every time someone goes shopping, they pay for the polythene bag they use in wrapping their goods. The Norwegians also always want to cut down on the labor cost. There is, thus, neither one employed to specifically pack a customer’s goods nor direct them around the stores. Every person goes the “self-service” way; to take their goods and pack them on their own. And one has to acrry their own polythene bag if they don’t want to pay for it…

10. The bus system: While in Kenya, the bus (mainly referred to as “matatu”) goes for people and can even beg you to board, it is the people who have to run after the bus in Norway. The Norwegian buses go as per the scheduled times. If you come late even by a minute, you’ll have to wait for the next bus (which could take up to 30 minutes). I actually witnessed a certain mother who had a child getting locked just outside the door on delaying for about 30 seconds; a mother with a baby!!!

Well, these are just some of my observations; I hope they add to your knowledge…

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4 comments on “Through my eyes

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