The Perks of Being Norwegian 

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.

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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.

celebrating the national day of Norway

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!

a girl and a flag

14 thoughts on “The Perks of Being Norwegian 

  1. Great. I’m glad to see that you appreciate and love your new country. I can just see you going crazy in Spain. They must be similar to Italians in many way, especially those that don’t work. 😀

    I’ve been living in Italy for almost five years.As it often happens, at the start I was much more enthusiastic about everything I saw here than I’m now, but the positives still prevail. On the whole, Italians are less frustrated than Slovenians, less concerned, more positive and more loving. Of course, they are also more cocky, more polluting, more money-grabbing and more self-centred. Oh, and one other very important thing: Italians drink less. What a relief.

    I say that I like to take the best from both words and live happily, hopping back to Slovenia twice a year or so and then happily back. Isn’t this what life is? Movement. New. It’s the changes that do us good.

    I wish you a change-ful year ahead.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Manja! You are such a good example. I also try to adopt this mindset of taking the best from both.
      About living in Spain, don’t break my heart. Cuz this is exactly what I’m up to. Thinking of moving. With all my appreciation I never felt totally at home here. And I just wonder if I am not a Northern person. I feel like a tree who doesn’t want to get roots here. I must be a palm tree 😆 So I just have to check it out: living in a country where I feel happy and full of life. I know that comes with a price tag. But what doesn’t? And I don’t want the fear to stop me. It never did anyway. So that would be a very interesting experiment soon.
      A change-ful year ahead, indeed 😊
      And I just love your comparison of Italy and Slovenia. It is always funny how countries so close can be so different. Italians drink less? Wow! Maybe, they drink wine and less vodka? Bc the Spanish drink a lot, but this is wine with food kind of drinking (before I used to think they have alcohol problems. Now… I have it myself 😆😆)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hahhah, yeah, I didn’t even think of wine. 😀 A glass of wine with every meal, of course. What I meant was getting drunk, on purpose, with everything that has alcohol in it. :p And only then they are able to express emotions, my people.

        That’s the way – no fear, full steam ahead!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I can relate to it. Ukrainians are like that. But still more emotional than Norwegians, way more. So imagine Norwegians drinking. They just get smashed – and then they go crazy. Totally different nation at night. I don’t like that, to be honest. They supress so much and need so much alcohol to feel free. I like that the Spanish are relaxed about it. Drinking bit by bit. And wine is like water 😆

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely post with lots of positive energy! Finns sound a lot similar, except that in my experience Finns are not polite at all. Maybe it’s just social awkwardness but still, it bugs me.
    I used to appreciate customer service standards here, compared to e.g. France when I lived there, but they have gone down.
    I was so impressed with Norwegian once, years ago, when they had free wifi onboard in Economy class! Wifi in the clouds, it seemed just amazing to me!
    You’re right though, we should appreciate the little invisible things we take for granted! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • About politeness I have mixed feelings too. Norwegians try to be polite, but they act sometimes like farmers in town. They lack the skills of city citizens like holding doors for others, waiting for people to get out of the train and standing on the right side of escalators. The things one learns fast in a city like Kiev or Moscow. It is irritating that people behave like they are one person in town. But they don’t mean it to be mean you know.
      And what do you mean by the Finnish impoliteness?
      Yeaj, free wifi wins over everyone’s heart 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • The same, plus Finns don’t say hi (like customer service personnel in a shop) and drivers won’t let pedestrians pass on the crossroads. And Finns like to form little groups everywhere, at work for example, and then they don’t invite everyone into their little clique, for example at lunchtime there might be 4 people in the room and two of them ask a third to join them and they leave the fourth person out. Right in front of the fourth person! (Though doing it behind their back isn’t nice either.) Same thing for parties, etc. It happens all the time and no one thinks it’s odd. These three people might be rewarded at work for being “great work buddies” or “the most helpful colleagues”. Things like that. Finns are also very jealous of one another and pride is a sin… 🙄 Sometimes I miss France where everyone said bonjour to you even if you didn’t know them, you always made “bisous” at work with everyone, and a dinner party invitation meant “bring as many friends as you like, the more the merrier!”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh no, do they? Well then, come to Norway! 🙂 Norwegians say hi. I have worked in shops for 6 years, saying hi is the first commandment. And generally, people in service do good job. Before there were a lot of young Swedish working in the shops in restaurants here. Now the economy is better at home and they are gone. But back to the point. Norwegians do a good job. I am more frustrated in Spain where they don’t turn their heads before you stand in their face, and even then they can chat with a colleague… And drivers let pedestrians walk even in the prohibited crossings 🙂
        And those cliques, oh, that sounds so rude. Maybe, it doesn’t look so evident, but sounds so bad. In Norway an exclusion is a big no-no, or at least for me, I have worked at school where we worked A LOT with social inclusion and against exclusion. Exclusion is = bullying here, teachers are very concerned with kids having friends. So maybe, since they were teachers they were also nice colleagues. They had their friend circles at work, but would always chat, smile, give me a compliment. A teacher job, you know 😉 I like the teachers here, very positive people. In other jobs…I don’t really know. I would not say so. Little experience from other places, only shops and school.
        But I noticed, it is socially accepted when you sit at the party and talk to nobody. I spent 2 hours on a job party on a boat (my first years here), totally alone, at the table, and no one cared. I thought, me poor foreigner, bla bla. But later I’ve seen there can be a silent person at the table, not a foreigner, and no one is involving him into conversation. It is strange for me, I feel an obligation to involve everyone, even the silent ones. But in Norway – no problem. So I wonder, did I have to push myself into those conversations at that party? Even if they were like 2 folks here, and 2 folks there?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I guess I will never figure it out 🙂 that’s why it is a mystical nation for me. In Spain I blend in easier, without proper Spanish (i.e. with unproper Spanish :))). Maybe my illusion, but they are not as mystical. How are the French for you?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I never really got along that well with French women, the ones I knew had lived abroad or were half another nationality. It seemed like French women were often jealous and just had an aggressive and dismissive attitude, and didn’t want to get to know foreigners. But I knew lots of foreigners in Paris and Montpellier (in Nice I was a bit more lonely but I had plenty of visitors from home!) But I do get along with all kinds of nationalities. I’ve done so many things here and there and met people from everywhere! 🙂 My favorite were probably the Dutch. They are just so sociable and happy (ok this is generalizing of course!!)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. All these comments about various European personalities and mindsets ring true even for a visitor. The only one of those countries I have lived in was Spain, and it was so long ago, but I still smile with recognition at some of your observations! Going back to your comment that you feel you can’t grow roots there even after a long time … I think there is a huge difference between appreciating and loving a place. There are so many other countries and cultures I truly admire, but I don’t think I would ever fit in permanently.

    As an American, but one who travels widely and has family from elsewhere, I can see our quirks from both the good and bad sides. Compared with the Scandinavian/Nordic countries, we are overly friendly (and to them, fake), and I can see this both ways! Yes, we do want to make connections even with strangers, but also yes, sometimes it feels superficial and not genuine. I think we are more orderly than many cultures, but I also think we chafe at authority sometimes. I think we are generally warm, but we have a new reputation for not caring about others these days. (Very sad, and largely still not true, I think.) Those are a mere few – I could go on and on! Happy to find your blog through TSMS (and I see my blogging friend Manja here, too!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading and sharing your insights! TSMS and Manja are a great blogger gang 🙂
      This is why I love Europe – because of multitude of cultures and languages, where at every corner there is a new country, a new people with their own tradition 🙂 USA is more like a melting pot of cultures, but then again, it is such a big country that it can be unfair if we talk about “typical American” like there is a common standard. I am sure that Americans of Texas and those of Minnesota can be as different as, say, the Spanish, and Norwegians.
      The first foreigners I met were American missionaries in my city in Ukraine. And I loved them. They were from Texas, they were friendly and chatty, and we had a lot of fun together. Of course, they were missionaries and had to be nice, hehe. But whenever I meet Americans when I travel, they seem so easy to get in contact with. Just 5 minutes and then you sit together and share a lunch. While Norwegians can be so hard, they will answer your questions and disappear. No small talk, no sharing the lunch. In that sense I like Americans more. They are often called superficial by others, but I don’t believe in it so much. Bc everyone is superficial when you just meet them. And Norwegian friendships are also very superficial. Not superficial are my Russian-speaking friendships. Maybe, when you really get to know a person, it can go deeper. No matter the nationality. It just didn’t happen to me here. Maybe, Norwegians can be also as deep but bc of culture differences we don’t let it happen.
      And then again, the more you travel, the more you become a person of many places, and your tribe becomes people like you, not your nationality, don’t you think?

      Like

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