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Do and don't in Norway


Are you living in Norway? We need you to share your experience of the local customs :)

Is it difficult to adjust to the local customs in Norway?

Could you please share with us a list of the do's and don't's in Norway?

Thanks!

Don't hack at that quintessential Norwegian specialty "brown cheese" (brunost) with a knife. Use the special Norwegian cheese cutter!

Be very aware of the norwegian "Jante law".(Americans beware!) Many norwegians might argue that it does not exist - don't believe them. Breaking this law will most likely lead to awkward social situations. It's a stupid law most norwegians dislike, but it's still a factor when dealing with norwegians socially.

What is this 'Jante' law?

1. Don't think that you are special.
   2. Don't think that you are of the same standing as us.
   3. Don't think that you are smarter than us.
   4. Don't fancy yourself as being better than us.
   5. Don't think that you know more than us.
   6. Don't think that you are more important than us.
   7. Don't think that you are good at anything.
   8. Don't laugh at us.
   9. Don't think that anyone of us cares about you.
  10. Don't think that you can teach us anything.

I kind of agree.

Don't eat brunost on anything but a single slice of bread.  Brunost with a lettuce leaf, or a slice of ham, will blow a Norwegian's mind to pieces.

Don't complain about the prices or the taxes.  They don't like that.  At all.

Do play along when Norwegians tell you about their extra special traditions, even if you have exactly the same thing in your own country.

Do act impressed when someone tells you about that night they drank four beers.  That's a lot and "a big problem" in Norway.

Do learn Norwegian.

If you don't speak Norwegian, and have a cutomer-facing job, don't patronise people who want service in Norwegian (I'm talking to you Fridays).

Do visit the country.

Do take a class at the local college, preferably one you're interested in (i.e., not Norwegian).

There are two written standards.  Accept this.

On May 17th, Norway's national day, wear your best clothes.

Men wear suits, women their 'sunday' best, children dress as mini-adults. Although casual dressers normally, Norwegians really make an effort on May 17th wearing the national costume - the Bunad - or suits.

Casual clothes on May 17th wll certainly mark you out as a foreigner, so it's best to make an effort  :)

National Day is serious... No joke..

As for this Jante law... My inlaws tell me its an old tradition.. A lot of the younger Norwegians are akin to the youth of my country...

Norwaynomad :

On May 17th, Norway's national day, wear your best clothes.

Men wear suits, women their 'sunday' best, children dress as mini-adults. Although casual dressers normally, Norwegians really make an effort on May 17th wearing the national costume - the Bunad - or suits.

Casual clothes on May 17th wll certainly mark you out as a foreigner, so it's best to make an effort  :)

I made this misstake 20 yrs ago and they (my Norwegian friends)still mention it now and then,


Mvh Chris (Hammerfest)

Do make a solid effort to speak norwegian. This has really made a big difference in our social circles.

don't just socialize with other expats

Do express desire to eat whatever special foods you are fed. Our experience is that norwegians are very proud of their culinary traditions. If possible, express enjoyment of said meal.

Don't be offended when people stare. As far as I can tell, it's not rude here....Same goes with not greeting you as you pass in the street.

Don't order alcohol on a weeknight with a meal, or talk about having alcohol on a weeknight (other than friday). This will mark you as an alcoholic, since casual drinking is foreign, and drinking in general looked down upon, excluding weekends. In keeping with that, suggesting to a norwegian friend that you 'get drinks after work' will be met with confusion, unless it's friday.

Do try to speak norwegian at first, no matter what the social situation. Although most norwegians speak excellent english and will switch happily, many will not begin happily in english, and are pleased at your effort, no matter how bumbling. Hand gestures are perfectly acceptable as substitutes for missing words.

lolololol!

Awesome to look at yourself through other people's eyes.

But yes, the BRUNOST is holy! Don't molest it, and do treat it right, or I'll get you!

sctld :

Don't eat brunost on anything but a single slice of bread.  Brunost with a lettuce leaf, or a slice of ham, will blow a Norwegian's mind to pieces.

maybe it's an Oslo thing but I've been working on and off in Norway with the same group of people for about 3 years now and the guys there would often throw a slice of brown cheese on their Friday waffle with a bit of jam.

yes, it's not to be consumed with lettuce, but it seems like there are other cheese-applications allowed.

oh, and something I learned is that if you x-c ski, you'll be much more understood by the locals.

I work for a translation company(Aunes Oversettelser AS) located in Ranheim. I want to know more about this city.

ECS :
sctld :

Don't eat brunost on anything but a single slice of bread.  Brunost with a lettuce leaf, or a slice of ham, will blow a Norwegian's mind to pieces.

maybe it's an Oslo thing but I've been working on and off in Norway with the same group of people for about 3 years now and the guys there would often throw a slice of brown cheese on their Friday waffle with a bit of jam.

yes, it's not to be consumed with lettuce, but it seems like there are other cheese-applications allowed.

To use the brunost on norwegian waffles and traditional lapper/svele(a norwegian pancake thing)is also a tradition.

This is actually more traditional than the more practical slice of bread, but i guess waffles is less common on everydays. But I think it sounds like a smart idea to have Friday waffles at work. :)

Lettuce or a slice of ham... no. just nooooooo. It's like putting soy sauce on peanut butter...>_<

(But brown cheese is actually an important ingrediens in some norwegian brown sauces that are used for meat dishes!)

If ur Asian, don't ever try to color ur hair blonde just to fit in ;P I'm dead serious! haha

And yes, the grasp of Norwegian language is a must...don't take much crap about the Jante Law---it's all in the minds of those who have an ego as high as the Burj Al Arab in Dubai!

Norwegians are peace-loving people, they love the environment a lot, and the weather is almost always a conversation-starter for them...

And now, about brunost? Don't get me started ;P

Norwegian society is pretty primitive.

Jante law is perfect example of it.

I have breached all rules of it and with grotesque effects. However, anyone that has lived abroad for an extended period of time is unlikely to abide the vapid, sterile, stagnant, arrogant, uninterested, disinterested (in anything else other than thai ladies and ladyboys or cheap workforce just to state a few), not inclusive, very repressed, lazy, very badly educated, incapable of holding a decent conversation, inefficient, prissy, stingy, no manners, ignorant, affluent, humourless and narrow minded society.

If you are an american, you will be much loved there as they adore anything american! however, american society is not a prime example of diverse, broadminded culture either.

It is crucial to learn norwegian as, as a foreigner, you are not expected to be learning it over a period of time but you are expect it to know it from minute one of your landing.

If you are extraverted, and live in the cultural, political, intelectual (haha) centre of norway (oslo), you can try and look for a tree and hang a noose from it or rebook your flight to civilization pretty soon.

What is often overlooked it that norway was very primitive society in every aspect of the word all the way to the 70s. With oil it all stareted to change however, the mental make up and the collected psyche have remained. a good example is a comment of one french lady who said the following: 'I arrived in 1969 and tomatoes in 1975'. She added that at the time one tomato was 60 nok in current rate of exchange about ú7!

You will need to make a considerable effort to fit in, but you will only be allowed to get into ONE social group. Cross polenisation and diverse interests are just unheard of. Remember that many norwegians have maintained frienships since childhood or for a very long period of time and for a stranger to just fit in and include yourself in a social group is intrusive and in breach of Jante Law! You need to know your place in norway! don't be alarmed at this, even norwegians outside of oslo just don't fit in and/or are not accept it. There you have a chance to get to know other norwegians and find common ground. The best norwegians are those who have lived abroad for at least 5 years! and of course some rare individuals who share some interest with you. The more you have the better off you are! Northern norwegians are pretty cool bunch! but still they are still norwegian!

Cardinal sin of norwaY is CONFLICT! Norwegians by vast majority are extremely conflicted but they are not used to being confronted in any shape or form! If you want to survive in norway you just have to accept your place! Norwegians have a very preconceived ideas about nationalities, minorities, races, colour and social background and they are generally quite inflexible! If you remind them in anyway, and this could be purely just by being who you are, that they are conflicted (in my case, they weren't able to relate me beyond my looks) and most certainly don't event hink of reminding them inadvertently of their inferiority complex! Some don't seem to suffer the symptoms of it, and those will cling to you straight away, but sadly, VAST majority will flee from your site like deer that scents a predator in the wind.

You need to know that in 1979 there were only 2million norwegians in norway now, their population is 5 million and it is on the rise. The other thing that is crucial to know, is the size of norway and the distances. YOu will be reminded of this and they are quite proud of it, and ideally would love to have norway annexed from the rest of the europe as they don't see themselves as europeans. They are quite special! jsut for reference the distance from tromso to oslo is the same as oslo to venice and now spread 2 million people between those to point and you realise that the population per sq kilometer is negligible.

if you ever step out of the zone of understanding of any norwegian you face complete and utter punishement by norwegian standards: ISOLATION. I strongly recommend to review Jante Law and if you think you are able to breach at least one point, you will breach others too and become punished.

What you will not hear often is that norwegians dislike norwegians as well! and this will be prominent amongst those who will take liking to you! if you studied abroad and have lived in several countries, as I have, you won't find it ideal long term.

Returning to the distances and language, it is important to know that norwegian is not really a proper language! they got their independence in 1905 and their language is some obscure and bastardised version of danish with occassional word in english, swedish. Nevertheless norwegian is a germanic language so if you are english or speak any other germanic language you ll do just fine in a month's intensive course. there is however one big problem with norwegian. I am not going to even mention the countless dialects which evolved as a result of the distances and the sparsely populated land, but one thing you REALLY need to know is that norwegains don't talk very much unless they are drunk! Nowergain is also very much a language based on nuances and unless you practice a lot and often you can throw in the towel or you will need to be extremely patient and hope that in 20 years you will have grasped the language in its entirity.
But then what is the point of speaking a language of a nation that does not really speak very much!

Norwegians also think they speak english. hmmm, well, they just think that. It is essentially norwegian with english words, which is fine because it gives you the opportunity to map the linguistic pattern of norwegian, based on the conditiont that someone norwegain will actually engage in a conversation with you! Since noregian and english are germanic languages and the level to which norwegians are exposed to english it is only naturally expected that their level of knowledge of english will be beyond exemplary. Reality however, is different. Remember that they are unable to construct an independent thought other than 'the right answer' (probe further and you hit a brick wall and breach jante law). I won't elaborate on the 'right answer' or the right thing to do but those are key to undestanding norwegians! they won't do or say anything unless is the right thing to do or say!

Their english is dismal!

I am leaving Oslo in a few days, and i really wish someone had warned me in detail about norwegians. Do not misread! I had a blast in norway! I love oslo, but as an introvert I was left alone and if I wanted to engage with norwegians I was a will to talk to anyone and i did. I have met some wicked people here and many of which are very interesting. Despite my being pretty much, and understandably, ostracized from norway it is not uncommon to hear from norwegians themselves that any foreigner desiring a career in norway can dismiss the idea entirely.
Feel free to dismiss the point i have made here, I went to norway for socio cultural experiment and i got what i wanted just my expectations of norway were very much exceeded! I have made those points of my findings here!

and i did not even touch on the underground culture of sexual perversions, sexual abuse of children by mothers too, the inabiltiy to share anything 'time, love, effort, let alone money'.

Enjoy norway! Mine was a blast! :)

sorry about the poor spelling trying to type quickly at work!!!

ciao sono lena ,non viene a credere ho sentito solo male a parlare di norvegesi,e mio sogno a visitare anzi a trovare un lavoro come infermiera dar non parlo norvegese parlo italiano francese e rumeno.e dificile a trovare un posto di lavoro .....ciao fami sapere.

Could you please post in English buju lena? This is an English-speaking forum.

Thanks,

David

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