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How To Be Norwegian

Norwegian National Day celebrations

You’ve just made the move to Norway and wonder how to fit in? Admittedly, Norwegians can seem quirky at first and there might be lots of things that might baffle you about their culture but really, it doesn’t take too much to become a real Norwegian.

Just follow these 10 easy steps:

1. Learn how to ski

Norwegians love their outdoors and no matter the season, spend a huge majority of their free time outside. While they’re mostly hiking during summer and going hunting in autumn, the long winter is best spent on skis!

They say that skiing was invented by the Sami people thousands of years ago so the tradition has been in the country for quite a while now and Norwegian children learn how to ski at a very young age.

If you’re moving to Norway and have never tried skiing before at all, you better get started asap!

Ski in Norway

2. Get koselig

You might be afraid of the upcoming long and dark winter in Norway and wonder how Norwegians cope with it. Well the truth is, Norwegians love the dark months! Winter is the time where everyone starts getting koselig again – which like the Danish concept of hygge basically just means getting cosy at home with candles, good food and maybe a good book.

If there’s one thing (apart from going skiing and seeing the Northern Lights of course) that you should get excited about the long Norwegian winter, it’s definitely those evenings where you get cosy on the couch.

Koselig Norway

3. Make Fridays Taco Friday

One of the ultimate ways to get koselig is Taco Friday! Norwegians love Mexican food and although they’re pretty good at ruining it (by putting nachos on burgers and pizzas for example), the classic Taco Friday is something you should totally introduce into your new everyday life in Norway.

4. Learn to appreciate fish oil

Next to tacos, fish oil is another staple of “Norwegian cuisine”. In this country where wind, rain and snow characterize the weather for most of the year, it’s easy to get sick. So what Norwegians do is drink fish oil to prevent them from getting sick altogether. Clever, isn’t it?!

5. Forget Fanta and KitKat

Instead, try Solo and Kvikk Lunsj and start acting like both not only taste very differently from Fanta and KitKat, but also sooo much better!

Kvikk Lunsj wrapper

6. Forget about Dutch cheese and start going crazy for brown cheese

Now I must make it sound like Norwegian culture is all about food but I just can’t help it – Norwegian cuisine is full of odd dishes! One pretty weird food is brown cheese. Tasting very sweet and caramel-like, this cheese is a staple of Norwegian cuisine and best served on waffles (another Norwegian classic)!

7. Stop stressing

Norwegians are generally very calm people who don’t like to stress about things. You’ll notice the slower pace of life as soon as you step foot into the country and it all goes downhill from there. No, just kidding. The Norwegian way of taking things slowly can actually be very refreshing if you come from a country like Germany where stress is a huge part of your everyday life.

Relax in Norway

Taking things slowly is not just part of the working culture though. In a country that probably has more mountains and fjords than inhabitants, getting from one place to another will most likely take more time than anywhere else in Europe. Some places, like Tromso, can only be reached by plane or ship, making the journey either very long or quite expensive.

It’s nothing to complain about however. Norway takes going on a road trip on a completely different level as yes, the journey will take ages, but the views you get along the way are breath-taking, stunning, amazing and every other word a travel blogger should avoid using for fear of sounding shallow.

8. Go on a vacation to Sweden – but only to buy cheap booze

You might have heard about this already but Norwegians are very grateful for being Norwegians and not Swedes. The two countries are friendly rivals and there are probably only few Norwegians who would actually admit going to Sweden for the sake of an actual holiday and not just to buy cheap alcohol, meat and candy.

My boyfriend’s mother takes this on an even higher level by avoiding to speak Norwegian in public entirely whenever they’re visiting their holiday cabin in Sweden. But psst, don’t let her know I told you!

9. And if you’re up for a real vacation, there’s only one place to go: Syden

Each year, thousands if not millions of Norwegians (okay there are only 5 million so let’s stick with thousands) head down south for their annual 4 week summer holiday. Now down south usually means any place where the sun shines and temperatures reach 30 degrees.

Depending on where in Norway you live and what charter flights are available, that’s mostly somewhere in Spain or Greece. Tromsø people like to head to Alicante and Crete but really, those are the only frequent direct flights available so they don’t have much of a choice…

10. And last but not least: Don’t complain about Norway, ever!

Norwegians absolutely love their country and now that you’re one of them, don’t make the mistake of complaining about it. After all, there are worse places to live, right?

Norwegian National Day celebrations

This article is adapted from an original post on Snow in Tromsø

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About the Author: Vanessa Brune

Vanessa is a 25 year old German who decided to move to the Arctic in 2014. She now lives in Tromsø and has also travelled to Iceland and Greenland. She is fascinated by the High North, and shares her experiences on her blog, Snow in Tromsø.

25 Comments

      1. There are plenty of spicy food in Norway. For example in Oslo. Chinese food, Mexican food – just ask to add spicy sauce and you will burn inside 🙂

    1. Jeg er enig. Jeg er fra Trofors Norge, og min mor klager over hvordan Norge skal være mer som Amerika hele tiden! Også vi liker å bli koselige noen ganger, men den sesongen var feil. Vi elsker å bli koselige i høst! Vel … i det minste gjør familien min.
      Takk for at du lyttet til meg selv. Jeg håper dette blir oversatt

    2. Norway is a fantastic place. I’ve worked with some fabulous people all the way from Honigsvag to Kristiansand. But….. Brown cheese is an invention of the devil. Never try to cook with it. In ten years, I learned that there was always only 1 way to do things and that was the Norwegian way. In Bergen dont make jokes about lazy fishermen. Also in Bergen if you’re money is running low the Grieghalle is a good way to spend an evening and not spending a fortune. I miss Geir Valsvik, the largest man in Voss. If you live in the North of Norway, people in the south will always take the piss out of you. In the North there are 2 seasons-fishing and party. Reindeer are grey and difficult to pick out on the road in bad light. The obsession with fish (fiskeballer og lutofisk) is really upsetting. Happy hour at Pepes Pizza is a nightmare, especially next to an army barracks. However, it is a wonderful country with wonderful people and I miss being there. Fy fhan?

  1. Norway is a very progressive country, and family is very important. Keeping healthy is the main stay there. Outdoors, good food, having work you love.

  2. There is subtle and important misunderstanding about the Norwegian lack of stress. I believe that Norwegians certainly do get stressed, it is just that some are very skilled at managing stress and some hide it. In many – not all – parts of Norwegian culture it is frowned upon to show emotions. I was once explicitly told by a senior colleague to be strong and hide my feelings when I was upset. In some cases this leads to emotional difficultities. For newcomers here, it is important to keep this in mind as it might explain some bizzare behaviour.

    1. So true! It’s similar to the Norwegian’s fear of conflict. Just don’t show your emotions, don’t tell anyone you’re angry and things will be fine etc. I still find that hard to get used to, especially in the work setting where conflicts and stress are bound to come up eventually…

    2. omgosh!! I was raised like this and my kids think i am crazy for just being the strong silent type!!! Well this explains everythging!!!

  3. “Some places, like Tromso, can only be reached by plane or ship.” When did this happen? I drove from Tromsø to Finsness last summer. There’s been road access for decades!

    1. Well yeah, you can of course drive from the UK to Tromso but that’d be a hell of a journey 😉 I wasn’t referring getting from Norwegian small towns to Tromso, I was thinking of getting there to and from abroad but sure, we do have roads….

  4. I see a lot of truth in this. However, Norwegians complain alot about their country all the time. However, only native Norwegians are allowed to do so. If a foreigner would complain, a Norwegian would be very offended. 😉

  5. I think especially people from north norway are pretty straight on… they don’t hide their feelings. Pretty colorful language too… svering is normal, and it is juicy stuff. Laid back people? I don’t think so, pretty ealily stressed, and complain about it. Complaining about weather… but still, norwegians love their country… and if weather is too bad, just pack your body in and go for a long walk.
    I think norwegians are pretty much like everybody else… has their ups and down, some talk freely about it, some hides it…
    Crazy for brown cheese? I think most people love Jarlsberg, more than geitost..
    Being a norwegian living most of the year in middle of Europe, I think I can see norwegians from the outside, and we don’t differ that much for the rest of the europeans…..

    1. I think it’s amusing how seriously Norwegians are taking this tongue-in-cheek article… further demonstrating how Norwegians and continental Europeans are as different as chalk and cheese 🙂

  6. Hi there, it sounds very interesting to me. I like winter, staying outdoor and cross country skiing (rollerski on summer). I’ll really enjoy it. Any advice to get a job to earn a living there and then become a good Norwegian? Thanks a lot

  7. Dette er sant, fordi jeg er fra Trofors Norge og vi blir stresset, og vi klager. Familien min klager hele tiden om hvordan de skulle ønske de var i Amerika, og hvordan vi burde vært amerikaner! Så ja, Solo er ganske bra, men jeg har ikke hatt det om tre år fordi min mor forbød det fra vårt hjem. Men durin jul tid hjemmefra, det er som engler i snøen det er beuatiful !!!!

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