Norway has a way of doing things that is totally different. These are some of the things I have noted that are just outstandingly different yet true…
- When you meet a Norwegian for the first time, there is a warm handshake and a mention of their name. Thus, it is very normal to have the Norwegian stretch forth their hand while at the same time saying their names. It is so easy to mistake this for a greeting!!! 😉 But what is even more intriguing is that that is the only time they will ever do that; they never introduce themselves again. The subsequent greetings will be in the form of “Hi!” or simply a hug if you’ve become a bit close, especially among cross genders.
- Attaining the age of maturity is such a big deal in Norway. At the age of 18, one can move out and have their own appartments. This means they can now fend for themselves. What is even striking is that parents can rent out their appartments to their own children. I have observed this in two cases, where parents receive rent from their children… 🙂
- Norwegians are time-oriented (this cannot be over-emphasized!). It is, therefore, expected that most of them will always be on time. I have always marveled at seeing Norwegians unsuccessfully run after the bus in Trondheim (and I guess the same applies in other cities as well)! It has always made me wonder how they can get so frustrated by something they hold so dear to themselves. In addition to this reality, time is a great factor in appointments; but this doesn’t always hold in Churches. It is very common to attend a Church meeting that may start about 15 minutes late or a Bible study that starts over 30 minutes late or even a fellowship that runs much later after the planned time.
- Everything in Norway is planned for. That includes visits and dinners. It is a norm to have someone plan for a dinner a month beforehand; and interestingly, this will be realized on trust without any remidners! 🙂 The meal times are fixed. I couldn’t stop to wonder when we had been invited for dinner with my teammate in a certain family. When I delayed courtesy of missing the bus; the first thing that our host said is that the food will have to be warmed again!!! And when we got there, the meal times were altered.
- To most Norwegian young people, Africa is one very big country containing different people and not a continent! Whenever I introduce myself and say “I come from Kenya,” it is not surprising to hear a young Norwegian reply saying “You come from Africa!” This become clearer on this day I was going for a worship night one city up north (Levanger). We were to meet with an African family (who are now Norwegian citizens); and when I was being given the man’s contacts I was told he was from Kenya. Just later to realize he was from Liberia. This contravenes the fact that most Norwegians read and are knowledgeable… 🙂
- Norwegians are basically outdoor people! They love to travel and explore other places; to discover new places. I have, however, since the day I came to Norway, noted that most Norwegians have not entirely traveled over their own country. I was shocked that one of my teachers at Hald had not been to Ålesund, while a good number of Norwegian Hald students had never been to Trondheim yet… 🙂
- Norway has a very small population (just over 5 million people). Every Norwegian is aware of this! The country is, seemingly, one of the wealthiest in the world. What is amazing is that you’ll keep hearing them stating how much they are few; but most of those who get married don’t necessarily have childbearing as a priority! Most Norwegians just want to live together out of convenience and insist that having children is extremely demanding!!!
- Most Norwegians don’t have a high regard for Christianity; in fact they hate hearing anyone talk about it. It is not surprising to have a Norwegian shut you off; either by silence or by simply walking away; simply because they don’t desire to hear anything about Christian faith. It is said that Christianity is a bunch of extreme rules. Conversely, the entire country is built on the Christian fabric. It has the important Christian values of honesty, trust for each other, integrity and generosity.