Warning: Don't read this if you don't have a sense of humour!! ;)
Now before you say "yeah of course you can't be Norwegian, you're German - you can't just become Norwegian", hear me out.
A couple of weeks ago, I picked up my new glasses at the opticians and was discussing payment. When I went for the eye exam and picked out my glasses, they were telling me that I could pay in monthly installments of up to 24 months or something and while that would have been crazy, I thought dividing the cost on two months would definitely be nice since buying glasses in Norway (like everything) is a lot more expensive than you might expect.
Now long story short, when it came down to it, I wasn't eligible for monthly payments since I'm German.
Or well, maybe not because I'm German per se but because I'm not Norwegian anyhow. They seemed to need a certain number that only comes up on Norwegian passports and drivers licences so I had to pay the full amount - fair enough.
When we left the store though, Simon asked me how long it would take me to get a Norwegian passport and I was like "uhhh 3 more years I guess". As a EU citizen, I can claim Norwegian citizenship after 5 years of living in the country.
I didn't think much about it after that - until we left the plane coming from our trip to Spain and someone literally shoved me aside to make his way to the duty free store while I was trying to get my bag from the overhead locker.
In exactly that moment it dawned on me: I'll never be Norwegian.
And here are 5 reasons why:
1. Norwegians are rude (and obsessed with alcohol)
No not all of them but there's more than just a minority who's rude - and desperate for cheap booze. You've probably already heard that Norwegians aren't the most social and friendly people - well, especially not when they're sober.
Not everyone will be rushing to help you when you struggle with your luggage on icy streets in Tromso or get lost on your way to Tromso Museum, that's for sure. You have to actively search for help and even then you might get to hear "snakker ikke engelsk" from a grumpy Norwegian who certainly understands English but is too lazy to speak it.
And let's say you actually move to Norway and learn the language and people have difficulties understanding you because you have an accent. Don't expect a polite "excuse me, can you repeat that?". A grumpy "hæ?" is probably all you will get.
So yes, Norwegians can be pretty rude. That doesn't make them bad people but it certainly makes integrating into their culture a bit difficult at first and it's not a character trait I learned growing up in Germany where friendliness is key if you ever want to get something from any German authority - whether that's your GP's office or the town hall.
I guess Norwegians have so much space available and escape to their very own cabin in the woods whenever they can, that they simply don't feel the need to interact with other people if they don't have to. In fact, don't expect your neighbour to say hello to you unless you meet him on the top of a mountain - or a charter flight to Spain, cause that's when Norwegians suddenly get cheerful and chatty...
2. Norwegian food is dull and tasteless
There I said it. I don't like Norwegian food and I find most traditional Norwegian dishes rather disgusting. Worst of all though is the lack of variety in most Norwegian supermarkets.
To get cheese that is not brown or tasteless, you might have to go quite the distance or if you live in a remote place, better get used to the stuff that's actually available.
It's the same with most other foods. Since Norway is not part of the EU, they try to make importing food as difficult as they can and force you to buy the Norwegian equivalents of well know brands which aren't half as good.
And yes, there is a difference between Solo and Fanta.
3. Norwegians are incapable of arguing
Have you ever had an argument with someone who instead of yelling back at you, simply ignored you? Know how frustrating that is?
Well, if you ever plan on moving to Norway, prepare yourself to manage your temper. Norwegians are incapable of arguing. In fact, they even are afraid of conflict and if you ever call a service hotline to report a problem, you will be met with a friendly but pretty much helpless response.
Norwegians don't seem to know how to deal with conflict (not even service hotline staff that should be trained, right?!) so instead of having to deal with it, they mostly rather choose to avoid conflict altogether.
So chances are that if you actually call a service hotline to report a problem, they'll just tell you that they're incredibly sorry and that your problem will be fixed very soon (even though it won't) so that you don't start arguing.
Also in everyday life, Norwegians seem to be the calmest and most peaceful people on earth. In reality, they can be very passive-aggressive.
I read about a man in the local newspaper this week, who was late for an appointment and stuck in traffic and he got so "angry" that he clenched his teeth so hard that two of his teeth broke.
Yep, you read that right. He said that he thought clenching his teeth would be better than giving people the finger or making some other form of ugly gesture. It's actually kinda cute...
Another hilarious example for this I stumbled upon last week is an advert at the bus stop near my house. It reads: "No, everybody at work cannot just shut their mouth. It's you that has a problem" and is an advert for some vitamin supplements.
So if Norwegians get angry at or fed up by their colleagues, it's got to be because of a medical condition? Alright then...
4. Norwegians are born with skis on their feet
Skiing is the national sport of Norwegians and most children are taught how to do it at an early age.
That's why it's extremely hard for a foreigner to learn it at a later age. Skiing is completely illogical to me and nothing about it makes sense. I mean seriously, what's the point of sticking a 2 meter long stick to your foot? It totally gets in your way all the time!
It's not just skiing that seems to be a precondition of being Norwegian though, it's also the ability to walk on 2 centimeter thick ice in the streets of Tromso during winter without slipping.
And not just walking, no, they even slide down entire hills in their sneakers without falling down. It's an incredible skill and even though I only slipped and fell once on my first visit to Tromso but never in my time as an expat here (minus the time I went ice-skating, knock on wood), I don't think I'll ever feel safe on ice without spikes, ever!
5. Norwegians like the smell of feet
Now before you get the impression that all Norwegians are foot-fetishists, let me explain.
It's common for Norwegians to take off their shoes at home and while we certainly do that in Germany too, we hardly ever expect guests to do the same. Norwegians however do. Unconditionally.
Imagine you're invited to a fancy dinner party and want to wear your new shiny heels. Well, you'll have to take them off as soon as you step foot into the door and walk around barefoot for the rest of the night.
Awkward? Yes. Especially if one of your guests has smelly feet. And there always is one who has...
So here there are, 5 reasons why I'll never be Norwegian (or at least not a Northerner cause clearly my account is based on Tromso people).
I'd include a disclaimer saying that it wasn't my intention to hurt or offend anyone with this post but even if someone actually felt offended, I wouldn't know cause they wouldn't tell me anyway, right?!
No but seriously, as frustrating as it sometimes is to live with you guys, I'm so glad for the way you Norwegians are. It makes me laugh out loud at lunch break reading your story in the newspaper or on the way home reading an advert at the bus stop and it's certainly worth living amongst you for those moments!
So thank you Norwegians for being so quirky. I may never be one of you but I have an awesome time living amongst you!
What are some funny character traits or traditions you have experienced living in Norway? Leave a comment below!
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