Category Archives: cultural differences

Typically Norwegian

If you’ve never been to Norway, but plan to… here’s a word you need to know, KAFFE. It means coffee, and it’s the fuel that keeps Norwegian machinery going. Everywhere you go you’ll see people carrying their thermoses, because only millennials, angsty teens and overall confused people go to Starbucks.  Drive-thru coffee shops are rare, if they ever exist at all. Not to worry, us Norwegians are always prepared. Going for a bus ride? Bring your thermos! Going for a hike? Bring your thermos! Nevermind a bottle of water, we’re so in touch with nature  we drink straight from the rivers and streams. Meeting a friend? Going to choir practice? Going shopping? Everybody together now: Bring your thermos!

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A popular sidekick to the thermos, is the empty ice-cream box filled with sandwiches. Nope, we don’t use lunch boxes or coolers, unless we’re planning a day at the beach. Those ice cream boxes do the trick. Earlier today, as I was walking up the stairs to our apartment, I passed a plumber who seemed like he was done for the day, but instead of carrying a toolbox, he was hauling his ice cream  box and… tada… a thermos!  You really can’t survive without those.

I remember last time my parents came to visit. My mom is notorious for her well prepared basket filled with fruit, snacks, ice cream boxes with sandwiches, and thermoses full of- coffee. But something didn’t turn out quite as planned. They were one thermos short. Oh, the horror! My parents exchanged panic-stricken looks, sweat dripping down their foreheads..You could read their thoughts, “no coffee? lord help us”.

I caved in, determined to save the day! Since I only drink java in the mornings to wake up, I offered them my thermos. I have never seen such gratitude since.

So keep in mind: coffee to the people! Help save and uphold the democracy!

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Baby it’s cold outside

 

My Facebook feed is cluttered with status updates about the weather. Yes, it – 7 outside, it’s freezing but come on. Why the need to post hourly updates about the freaking weather? Such a pet peeve! Sorry weather nerds, I really don’t give a shit. Perhaps it’s because I’m from a country where a “storm” doesn’t mean rainy wind gusts – it means huge waves on the fjord, shut down ferries, trees falling, houses creaking, planes cancelled or not being able to land. It seems “weather” is viewed differently in the U.S., and even though I’ve lived here a while it never ceases to amaze how much people just freak out. (Yes, Americans freak out about everything, but you know what I mean.) It’s snowing – OMG! We need to cancel school, delay buses, tell people that they need to put on extra clothes or else they’ll die. Seriously – this happens every year. Enforce the use of studded tires, include weather driving when taking the driver’s license test (use a “fake ice field” for training – it’s awesome!) and for crying out loud – learn to deal with snow/ice/frost – we’re people living on a planet and we have weather! Adapt already!

 

/rant over

Snowmageddon!!!

Snowmageddon!!!

Consider me grounded

Sunday in Norway. Do you know what that means? In a cultural and social context? It means, “get your lazy ass off the couch, put on your mountain boots/hiking shoes/skis/whatever and have a date with Mother Nature in all its glory”!

I’m from a small town that’s just absolutely gorgeous. Every day I’m met with a stunning view of snow-covered mountain tops and I love it. I mean, I love looking at it. I’ve just  never felt the need to climb them. Actually, I’ve never felt the need to be outdoors at all – a huge disappointment to my sporty mom. What gives?

When I was a small child, I was terrified of flies. FLIES! We’re not talking bees or rattle snakes or bears. Buzzing flies. I was also scared of pine cones. Don’t laugh! It was actually so bad that my dad had to carry me whenever they tried to evoke in me a sense of belonging to nature. I just lack that gene. I seriously do.

I think the sun stresses the heck out of Norwegians. It’s like they just HAVE to get outside no matter what. I suspect I’m part alien since I’ve always preferred sitting on my ass reading or writing instead. I find walking or hiking to be…. boring. Unless I have a dog with me (because animals change everything!), I can do without.

Poster child for the Norwegian mental/sporty state. Image.

Poster child for the Norwegian mental/sporty state. Image.

The folks around here use Facebook as a tool to compete with each other. Where they’ve been, which mountains they’ve climbed or how they survived a snow storm up on Mount Whatever. To me this is a big yawn, but trust me – it’s huge here. Huge! No Sunday brunches, matinés, going out for breakfast or a lazy stroll in the park.

I probably sound like the laziest person on the planet (and I probably am!), but I prefer group exercise like aerobics or dancing to get in shape and burn calories. Grasping for air atop a peak is just not appealing to me, especially since I’m super clumsy and prone to fall even on a straight paved road.

But give me a dog and I’ll happily walk all day. There is just something about the presence of a happy dog that makes even Mount Everest seem like a fun, spontaneous thing to do on a gloomy Sunday morning. Walking with people… meh.

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Y’all can climb all the cliffs you want, I’m content with a cup of Chai tea and a book while occasionally looking out the window.

Happy Sunday!

2012 – A recap

Boy was 2012 a challenging year, with visa issues for Jamie  while I was working and studying full-time at the university. I didn’t feel like I was at a happy place in my life most of the time, it was a constant struggle. There is so much more to the story that I don’t wish to share here, it would just be too private. But all in all I had some wonderful moments as well, thanks to my dear friends and family who kept me sane through it all.

There are times I miss living in Bergen, Norway, but the timing was just off. Either that, or the universe gets a kick out of playing cruel jokes on me! Hats off to my parents, who have been there for me through everything. Traveling here, traveling there, working here, working there, moving 12 times during the past decade, back and forth like a restless caterpillar. I think sometimes I don’t allow myself to feel completely happy in case I jinx it. It’s a terrible feeling, and I have battled with anxiety for years now. Sometimes I think that if I am just content, something bad will come along and ruin it.

So I have decided not to allow myself to think like that anymore;  the universe has a plan for us all, and all we can do is ride along and do our best. That is why I will try my hardest not to  dwell on possible dangers around each corner.  I hereby choose to look forward to what 2013 will bring me.

Here is what made me happy in 2012:

* Getting a job at TV 2 in  Bergen so I could continue my career in broadcast journalism while living in one of the most beautiful cities in Norway. Added bonus: most of my friends lived there and it was happy times when we all got together. I cherished every moment.

* Finally making enough money to justify a college degree. Just saying.

* Living closer to my parents and my extended family. Getting to see my cousin’s newborn and be a part of her baptism. ❤

* Endless bus rides Bergen – Sykkylven.

* Being able to eat the foods I missed while living in the US.

* Attend lots and lots of family dinners, coffee parties or just hanging out with loved ones.

* Snuggling with my cats again.

* The view from our house in Sykkylven. It’s the most beautiful sight ever. It’s literally breathtaking.

* Seeing Jamie help my dad with work outside the house.

* Being able to attend my mom’s choir’s concerts.

* Free healthcare!

* Making new friends and finding out once and for all who were my true friends through it all.

* The smell in the springtime after a really heavy rainfall.

* Norwegian fauna.

* I discovered Californication and Entourage. Geez. What took me to long?

* I traveled back to the US again when the time was right. It was one of those things that made totally sense in the moment. Even though Jamie’s visa was approved two days later. Remember what I said about how ironic my life is sometimes? Obviously this is not meant to be easy.

* I got to be in Erik & Snehata’s wedding, and snuggle with Rudy again!

* I got to see new parts of America that I’d never seen before.

* I’m probably bragging a little, but I’m becoming quite the cook 🙂

* I fostered a dog from the local humane society.

* I gave more money to charity and homeless people.

Jamie and I are still together, we will celebrate our 6th anniversary on February 14th. We still don’t know where we will be at the end of this year. But we will make it fabulous.

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What Christmas means to me

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First of all, if you haven’t already figured it out, I’m Norwegian, so (duh) my traditions vary enormously from what you Americans call Christmas. No offense. I love me some fat jolly Santa just as the next person. OK, here it goes. We open our presents on Christmas Eve! That’s right! We’re all dressed in our gayest gear and eat dinner precisely at 5 pm, because that’s when the church bells declare it is at last the holy hour of Christmas.

But before then it’s a tradition to sit in your PJs eating candy watching:

 

OMG. This is the ULTIMATE Christmas flick, just ask any girl born in the 80’s or later. It’s a Czech movie originally titled ” Tri orísky pro Popelku“, which is dubbed in Norwegian by an old man so all the kids can understand it. It’s basically a “modern” (how modern is 1973, anyways?) take on Cinderella, where the protagonist finds three nuts, which each will fulfill her wishes. Needless to say, it has a happy ending where her prince whisks her away on a horse. Awwwww.

And so, after too much candy and TV, we clean up and don our festive clothes. No jeans or crocs allowed, shame on you.
In my family, this is what we eat:

Oh, it's glorious. Lamb ribs, mashed rutabaga, potatoes, sausage, sauerkraut and red cabbae. Image

Oh, it’s glorious. Lamb ribs, mashed rutabaga, potatoes, sausage, sauerkraut and red cabbage. Image

When we enter the house and face this smell, we all shed a tear, because it is, after all, Christmas once again. Yumm!

After about three hours of eating, drinking, discussing, shouting, taking pictures and making sure the cats don’t tear down the trees, the “grown-ups” do the dishes while the children impatiently wait for the big event – to open the presents! After we serve coffee and cake (and some brandy, cough, cough) we open the gifts, one by one, to endless “aaaws” and “oohs”. This usually lasts way into the a.m, but it’s so worth it and I love it. I wish I could be home this Christmas because I have been away for too many, but next year, my dear family, I will be there. With bells on!

Home sweet home!

Home sweet home!

7 things for 7 days

Drink Less: Beer and wine. Seriously. I need to lose some weight and these indulgences won’t help fight the fat. Out with the booze, in with more water. Just for the record, I do drink a ton of water. Everyday.

Eat More: Veggies, although I eat lots of veggies everyday. I’m on a garlic kick these days, and I put garlic into EVERYTHING! Not sure if you want to be near me, hehehe. Also, I’m an onion-lover. Onions and garlic for life, y’all! Also on my daily menu is broccoli and cauliflower. Can’t get enough. Perhaps I should get back to eating bell peppers on a daily basis. And avocados. Yes, for sure.

Prepare: For disasters! The end of times! The apocalypse! Kidding. Even though that’s pretty much the mantra here in Oakridge. Every store has a disaster preparedness kit as well as books on how to be a good soldier and kill your enemies. Time to move, perhaps? In all seriousness, I do need to prepare my final I-485 application. I hate that stuff.

Organize: My clothes. I still haven’t unpacked my suit case because we’re always in a transitioning phase no matter where we are. I’m getting scared of feeling attached to one place. My life has been nothing but moving up and around for the past 10 years. Sigh.

Lose: The love handles. Nothing to love about them. Get off me, bitches. I won’t miss you!

Do: Walk more! Since I moved back to the States I’m slowly falling into the American way of not walking anywhere. This country is made for cars, not feet. God forbid you actually get off your fat ass and WALK to the atm instead of driving to it, and then choose to do the DRIVE THRU version of it, so you won’t have to park and get out. Those steps are valuable, and you don’t want to waste any energy when you can just sit still instead. *Vomit*

Find: The perfect Halloween costume! Yay! I was thinking about dressing up as Katie Perry this year, with blue hair and a candy dress. But then a friend suggested I go as Queen Narissa from Enchanted instead. Oh yes, I see the resemblance. Hehe!

Now, talk to me. What do you hope to accomplish?

The paperwork NEVER ends

Oh, the irony. I can’t remember if I’ve written this before or not, my blogging these days is anything but punctual. However, to make a long story short – the day after I set my wobbly feet back on US soil I got a letter from our attorney. Jamie had been granted his Norwegian visa. Earth, please: shake, crack and spit me, for I can take no more. Let me remind you, we struggled for two freaking years to get that decision. We thought all hope was lost, not literally, but for the time being, and we needed a change. So I quit my job, sold our furniture, moved the rest of our belongings back to mom and dad, and decided to head west once again. Tada! And then, THEN, on the other side of the world, sans jobs and a crib, Norway decided they wanted us after all. Well, tough shit.

We’ll go back one day, of course. But right now, we’re back to scratch, filling out the paperwork for the alien (that would be me). And some of the questions I need to answer YES or No to, sound like these,

“Do you intend to engage in the United States in espionage?”

“Have you ever ordered, incited, called for, committed, assisted, helped with, or otherwise participated in …. acts involving torture or genocide?”

Why, yes. Is that going to be a problem? Kidding.

Jokes aside, I’m looking forward to the day Jamie and I can live “normally” (what’s normal, anyways?) without having to file applications and applications in order to live like a married couple on the same continent without some bizarre deadline looming.