I love flying from Oslo. And not in the meaning of leaving Oslo for some exciting or sunny destination (though I love that too). I mean, I love how smooth the process is. From when I step out of my front door till the moment I am in the air.
I take a tram or a bus to the central station. The ticket for it I buy in the app. I know the timetable of the trains so I know if I can make it – otherwise I take an airport express (which costs twice as much). The ticket for the train I buy in the same app (for airport express I just swipe the card, no paper ticket needed). While sitting on the train I can check in with my flight. I still often prefer to check in at the machine at the airport. Norwegian has also an easy bag drop in Oslo airport where you can scan your bag yourself and off it goes. The whole check-in process takes no more than 5 minutes. I still remember flying to Norway from Ukraine. Passport controls, eternal lines for check-in. And good if there were lines. Crowds. Like someone said: “When you are in the big airport like Amsterdam and looking for a check-in window to Kiev it is easy to find. All other destinations stand in line. Ukrainians stand in a crowd”. True true.
Then I scan my boarding card, pass security control in 5 minutes usually – and then I am done. Time to feel my bottle with water at the tub (the best tub water) behind security control, take out money from the ATM and stroll around. Everything is so easy, fast and effective. Feels like a vacation in comparison to my flights from Ukraine which were pure stress and discomfort.
Last time, pulling my carry-on through Gardemoen Oslo airport, I had to stop and think how much I appreciate this Norwegian traveling style. People get used easily to the good stuff, and surely I got spoiled by this effectiveness. While for some it can still feel like luxury.
Norway feels like this in many areas. Applying for visas and passport is easy (though expensive). All the forms can be submitted online, all the meetings can be reserved there, no waiting in line, no crowds. The same with applying for studying, or for the loan in the bank. Easy, effective, comfortable. I still carry the memory of fixing things in Ukraine, and how much stress and pain that could cause. My man still complains about the slow process when he tries to fix things in Spain. Of course, Norway is a small country (plus a rich one), so it is easier to be more efficient there. But I would say that it is not only the size and the richness of the country – it is in the values. It seems that easy, effective and comfortable are some central Norwegian values. As also the attitude of trust and respect. And I firmly believe that with trust, respect and good service you could go further.
Back to flying. Look at Norwegian – the airline. Online check-in and machine check-in, self-service bag drop, generosity on hand baggage, transparent booking with no hidden fees. It is so easy and comfortable in comparison to other airlines I know. Some take you through intricate booking process where you end up paying a lot of extras. Some are nazi-strict on the size and amount of hand luggage. You know what? I prefer Norwegian. I stopped checking other cheapies. I am happy with this one. And maybe, that’s the reason why Norwegian has been voted Europe’s best low-cost in the recent five years. It deserves that. And I hope for one thing – that it may set the standard for other airlines. That it may show that things can be done with ease and comfort for the traveler. Belated disclaimer: this is not a commercial for Norwegian, and of course, if you have experienced bad service or lost luggage with them, you may have a totally different view. But we all have to own our stories, so this one here is mine.
Foreigners living in Norway love to complain about this country. I mean us, I am less a foreigner now, but still a foreigner. And I am afraid that till the end of my days I will be reminded of it and asked “where do you come from?” and “do you thrive in Norway?” You see, complaining again 🙂 We love it. Oh, that climate, that winter darkness, those prices, that protectionist market with few foods from abroad, those unsocial, square-headed Norwegians. I know every word of that song cuz I’ve been singing it for years. But then there are invisible things that I got used to and stopped appreciating. Like social trust, like basic respect, like politeness. They are subtle, they are often taken for granted. But they are there. And maybe, I (we?) need to remind myself what I like about this country and its culture.
I like that I am met with respect any place I go. Even a foreigner here, I get more respect than as a local in my own country. Back in my city – which is quite notorious for rudeness and negativity – I went about fixing things dressed up in armor like a knight. I was conscious about how I look and how I talk, because people would not give you respect for free, you have to prove yourself. It is exhausting. I love that Norwegians meet you with respect – just because you are human.
I love that there is a high level of trust in the society. You don’t have to clench your belongings to you like in the subway of Barcelona. Here I would leave my bag in the reading hall and go to the toilet as a student. I would leave my bag in the cafe while making order at the till now. I relax on the public transport. And it hurts me when I would ask for the way in the subway in Barcelona and old ladies would cover their bags instinctively. This is the reality they live in. I like that Norwegians are an uncunning nation. You can trust them. They will seldom approach you, but when they do you can trust them. They will not give you an extra chat like a Spanish waiter – but they will not try to get something from you either like the mentioned waiter (those things are not always interconnected. This is my experience as a solo female traveler. The Spanish waiters chat, but also ask for telephone numbers or a drink together. I don’t mind that. But trust? No-o). Sometimes I miss the chatty waiters, I am a chatty Ukrainian myself 🙂 But I also love those timid and sincere Norwegian smiles.
I don’t know if little Norway can be an example to the rest of the world, just as I don’t know if Norwegian can rise a standard among airlines. Every country has its own way of doing things. But I have learnt so much in this country – and much of what I am unaware of. And though I have experienced acute loneliness and a lot of struggle here, and like to present it all in a dramatic style, there must be something that helped me to stay here. And these are the things. Norwegian values. Though I present myself a Ukrainian in Norway, I am sure, I have become more Norwegian than I am aware of. I love being polite and I like trusting people. I like being logical and efficient. If I once move to another country, I will surely act like a Norwegian, not Ukrainian, asking: “why doesn’t that function?”, “where is the logic of this?”, “why wouldn’t they do it more effectively?” I already find myself asking these questions when traveling. And I hope, this will be not the reason to get irritated, but that it may be my contribution. My rising of the standard. Like Norwegian airline hopefully does. We all have to do our work. I will do my little work, and I want to do my best.
Because this is what Norwegians are famous for – being good. No? Haha. At least, this is what they believe about themselves. There is even a saying of Gro Harlem Brundtland, the first female prime minister of Norway: “this is typical Norwegian to be good” (det er typisk norsk å være god). At least they are good at winter sports. And fishing salmon. And low-cost airlines. And female handball. Not a bad list for a small country like this 🙂
What are the values in the place you are living? What do you appreciate them for? It would be interesting to learn about all those cultures you like, so please share in the comments!