Carlie: Hey there, it’s Carlie with the Expat Focus podcast. It’s a major achievement unlocked as an expat when you start to understand how the locals tick, and how long that takes is different for everyone.
American Chelsea lives with her Norwegian husband in the town of Henningsvær in Norway. They’ve been together for ten years, and in that time she’s learnt a thing or two about the Norwegian approach to life. Ten things, in fact, that she’s going to share in this episode.
Chelsea, how does a California girl end up in Norway?
Chelsea: Well, a California girl gets a job on a Norwegian ship, and makes some Norwegian friends, and visits northern Norway in an area called Lofoten, and falls in love with it, and decides to move.
Carlie: In a nutshell.
Chelsea: In a nutshell.
Carlie: I am no good with geography, but Lofoten from what you’ve described to me before is at the tip of Norway, right? It’s not Oslo.
Chelsea: It’s not Oslo, no. In fact it’s about the same distance from Oslo to Lofoten as it is from Oslo to Rome. So it’s quite far north, it’s above the Arctic circle, and if you look at the map of Norway, you’ll notice a little finger that sticks out from the top, a chain of islands. And part of those chains of islands is the region called Lofoten, the archipelago called Lofoten, and that’s my new home. I live in a town called Henningsvær.
Carlie: And how many years has it been since you left California for Norway?
Chelsea: Well, I finally left full-time in 2014. I was working on the ship from 2012, and when I would work on the ship I would travel from anywhere between 3-6 months at a time, simply because I just didn’t want to go back to California. And then I made the full move in April 2014.
Carlie: Now you are married to a Norwegian; you’ve been around Norwegians for quite a few years; so you’re a great person to provide these tips for integrating into life in Norway and understanding Norwegians just that little bit more.
Chelsea: Well, I’d like to think so, yeah.
Carlie: You’ve sent me ten points, the first of which I can’t actually pronounce, I’ve spelt it out. It sounds like… oot-pet-or-jay-se… I don’t think I’ve got that correct.
Chelsea: Very good try. It’s actually “Ut på tur, aldri sur.” So, that translates in English to basically, “When you’re out on a trip, you can’t be sour.” And by ‘sour’, they mean grumpy.
I’ve learned that Norwegians just love to be in the nature, especially in the area of Lofoten where nature is just absolutely stunning and wild and accessible, and I’ve learned that going out into the nature is always supposed to be a pleasant experience for a Norwegian. Not only because it’s beautiful, but because it’s the social law that you have to be pleasant while you’re out in the nature. Only happy campers are allowed out there.
No, but they really try to make it a nice experience, being out in the nature, and often will bring this portable grill, these disposable grills, that literally look like one of those little foil, aluminum foil…
Carlie: Oven trays?
Chelsea: Like, cooking trays, yes! Exactly! And with coal, and a little grid on top of it for you to grill whatever you want out of the nature, or of course they can just make a fire and roast hot dogs on a stick.
And then the staples of any Norwegian outing is to bring chocolate and oranges. And basically the Norwegian version of orange soda, which is called Solo. So those are the three staples. If you go out in the mountains, you can pretty much guarantee that at least one of your hiking buddies, if they’re Norwegian, will have at least one, if not all three, of those items with them.
Carlie: And you can’t be grumpy when you’re on a sugar high, let’s face it.
Chelsea: Yeah, and it gives you a little bit of extra motivation to keep that pep in your step.
Carlie: To get down that mountain again.
Carlie: Your second point for integrating into life in Norway and embracing the Norwegian attitude to life is saying “No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Now, Norway is not the greatest when it comes to weather, is it?
Chelsea: It is not the Caribbean, that’s for sure. It is cold and rainy half of the time: they always have a joke that the summer lasts about a day: it was a great day, that was the summer, you know, if they have a particularly warm day, then they say “Hey, that was a great summer!” So it can be terrible weather for very long periods of time.
This year we’ve been lucky and had amazing weather. In fact, today it was even 23 degrees and sunny in the middle of September, which is not normal at all. But even when it’s bad, and it’s raining and cold, the Norwegians remind me again, with their sayings, to not complain.
As a girl who’s from southern California, as we’ve said, I literally grew up in the desert most of my life. So I have to say I’m still hesitant to go out on a hike when it’s bad weather, when it’s rainy and windy and miserable-looking out, all I want to do is stay in my cozy clothes, light a fire and turn on a movie, and stay on the couch.
But here in Norway, as long as it’s not dangerous, they’re perfectly happy to go out into the nature no matter the weather. And get this, they actually enjoy it!
I’ve learned that you have to invest in proper outdoor clothing if you’re living here. It’s something I’ve just had to suck up, because it’s not the cheapest clothing to buy, and normally my focus has been on more stylish clothing; but in Norway, especially in the north, if you’re not living in Oslo or Bergen or one of the more cosmopolitan cities, they don’t really dress fancy to go out.
They’re very practical in the way that they dress. Of course there’s exceptions, like birthdays and holidays, but for the most part if you’re going out to the bars in a dress and heels, you’re going to get strange looks, especially in my area.
Carlie: Does that mean people go to their local bars or cafes in, essentially, hiking clothes?
Chelsea: Yes, exactly. Yes. It’s very common.
Chelsea: I go to the bars, especially when it’s outdoor seating, and I stay and people are looking like they just came down from a hike. They’ve got their wool headbands on, and their waterproof trousers and jackets on. It’s the norm here, versus getting dressed up.
Carlie: Something else you’ve mentioned to me before, which again I guess relates back to this weather and being appropriately dressed, is how Norwegians put their little babies outside in the cold for a while.
Chelsea: Yes, that is something that I still to this day am shocked, and will probably have a hard time embracing when the time comes for me to have my own child.
People literally will put their baby trollies out on their porches, whether it’s winter or summer, and that’s where their child will nap. If they go to a cafe, go for a little walk, and the baby falls asleep, they get to the cafe and they don’t want to wake up their baby, so they put their little baby monitor in the trolley, and go in and have their coffee, and just make sure they sit in a place where they can keep an eye on the trolley. And of course, once they hear the baby cry, they go and get it.
But to me… if you do this in the US, you would get Child Protective Services called on you in about two seconds! And in fact, it actually has happened. I’ve heard of a Swedish couple who have been in New York and did exactly that, and of course within seconds the police were called and they were arrested for abandoning their child in front of a cafe.
Carlie: Man, that’s horrible.
Chelsea: Yeah, and they lost their child for about 24 hours before they-
Carlie: For a cultural misunderstanding.
Chelsea: Exactly. Yeah. So it’s a little bit of adjustment, but it’s also quite nice to know that this is a place in the world where you still can kind of be safe, and it’s OK to leave your kids to play outside, and it’s not something that you have to worry about, the safety of your children here.
Carlie: Your third point, Chelsea, is that Norwegians are friendly, but perhaps not at first.
Chelsea: Well, of course Norwegians have the reputation of being very cold – or Scandinavians in general, really, have the reputation of being a bit cold and stand-offish; hard to read, maybe.
While that’s true, my experience with them is kind of the opposite. It’s that they’re extremely welcoming and warm, and once you are a part of their society, they will bend over backwards to help you if you need it.
So I of course got lucky because personally, I worked for a Norwegian company and made Norwegian friends, as I said earlier; and now I’m married to a Norwegian who is from the area, so I feel like I am very welcomed into this society.
But I know a lot of people who are not married to Norwegians, who come here without any prior connections to the place, and really struggle. Especially those who try to settle in the south. The north, from my understanding, is a lot more welcoming, it’s kind of what you would liken the south in the US.
The south has the reputation for being a welcoming place, and I would say the north in Norway is equivalent to that. In the south people are used to having a lot of different cultures and backgrounds around, and they’re a little bit more skeptical and wanting to keep their circle of friends a little bit tighter.
And in north Norway they’re a little bit more excited when there’s an outsider coming and making a life in their tiny little community. So it really depends… you need to get one friend, really. Once you’ve been accepted by one friend, the doors start to open and you start to make your own network and build your own network of people.
Carlie: And it leads into your fourth point, which is that you should be friendly to Norwegians, but not too friendly. Can you explain why?
Chelsea: Norwegians don’t like small talk very much at all. They in fact are a bit terrified of it, in a way. They of course are comfortable talking about things like the weather, but in general they don’t talk to people, even if they know them, when they bump into them, say, at the grocery store.
I learned very early on to not be offended if I saw somebody that I knew and they kind of ignored me in the grocery store. Sometimes you’ll get the smile and nod, but that’s about it, unless you’re really close with them, or have been close with them and haven’t seen them in a long time, generally people try to avoid eye contact at all costs.
Your neighbours, as well, if your patios or verandahs overlook each other and you’re both standing out on the deck, and you don’t have something specific to talk about, for the most part they just look in the opposite direction of each other.
Carlie: It’s OK not to say hi.
Chelsea: Silence is a very OK thing in Norway. They hate chatter for the sake of chatter.
The only exception to this rule is when you meet a Norwegian out in the nature, on a hike, when you bump into another person on that hike, it is in fact the opposite: it is rude if you don’t greet them, and say hello, and start a friendly chat.
Carlie: Potentially, on a hike, I wouldn’t be that keen to randomly strike up a conversation with a stranger. Clearly, in Norway, that’s the way.
Chelsea: Yeah, you would think that it would be the opposite: that you would meet a random stranger on the trail and you would get a little bit nervous of that person, like “Oh God,” I’m a true crime junkie and my mind jumps to that all the time.
But no, in Norway it’s very common to chat about the weather, and ask about where they’ve been hiking and where they’re going, and they tell you where they’re going, and basically everything that you’ve grown up not to tell a stranger, you tell them here in Norway when you’re out in the mountains.
Carlie: Your big tip is to get Norwegians drunk. And I can imagine this might be a really great icebreaker.
Chelsea: It’s kind of the only way to get a Norwegian to loosen up. You know, you might have one night where they get drunk and they tell you their entire life story; they’re in tears over something in their memory that they’re bringing up and opening up to you about.
And you might feel at the end of the night like, “Oh my gosh, that was such an amazing conversation, I’ve got a new best friend.” But don’t always expect that to be the case; they might not consider you still their close friend afterwards.
You should feel honoured if they invite you to their afterparty. In Norway, when you’re at a bar they close generally around two or three o’clock in the morning, and so often the Norwegians have an afterparty, especially in the summertime.
So on those occasions you can feel very honoured, especially if you’re invited to the afterparty, and you can expect to start a friendship with that person. But it’s not like… my experience… you can spill your guts to them and they can tell you their whole life story, but that still doesn’t…
Carlie: They might not remember it in the morning.
Chelsea: They might not remember it in the morning, and they still might not consider you their closest friend, they might just think “Oh, that was an embarrassing drunk story.”
However, it is the best way to actually have a proper conversation with a Norwegian.
Carlie: Tip number six for living life the Norwegian way is to let it go. And I actually really like this. Can you explain what you mean by just, let it go?
Chelsea: Yeah, I mean Frozen was based in Norway, wasn’t it?
Carlie: I didn’t know that, but it makes sense now!
Chelsea: Yes. No, but really, Norwegians don’t hold a grudge. You can have a fight with someone, and for the most part people will move on and chalk it up to a bad day. And they don’t dwell on it, they don’t get hung up on it, they just say “Alright, that’s the way it is, we’re moving on.”
And that doesn’t even necessarily count just for personal relationships; that counts for life as well. So, you know, if a storm comes and wrecks your roof, they don’t sit and dwell about how frustrating it is that they have to fix their entire roof, they just say “Oh well, OK, guess we got to fix it,” and then they just do what they have to do.
They’re a very practical people, and they… yes, maybe they’re not super emotional people, but in a way it helps for people who, like me, are maybe a little bit more anxious, and it helps me remember to not dwell on things that are out of your control or in the past. It’s also comforting to know that those around you are doing the same.
Carlie: I’m like you, I’m the type of person that will stew on things, hold a grudge for a long time, worry, be anxious about something and turn it over and over in my head for weeks. So it’s actually a really refreshing attitude, and puts things in perspective, when I hear that Norwegians are generally like, “Oh well, moving on!”
Chelsea: It’s a really nice attitude to have, and a nice attitude to try and embrace, as well. It’s freeing.
Carlie: Your seventh point is about relationships. Obviously you know a lot about this, being married to a Norwegian, and I’m really curious about how the aspects of Norwegian attitudes to life really feed into relationships, and how you’ve navigated that in your own relationship.
Chelsea: Yeah, Norwegian relationships generally don’t start in a way that I’ve experienced, really, since college. It’s very often – of course, it’s not every relationship – but very often, it’s a couple who have met out at a party, or who knew each other from before and just happened to hook up one night, and it just evolves from there.
In my case, with my relationship, I actually told Morten, my husband, that he needed to ask me out on a date, because he had jokingly proposed – that’s a whole other story – but he was jokingly saying we were getting married before we even had a date.
And I got lucky and forced him to ask me out for coffee, instead of the drunken hookup, but the majority of the relationships that I know started as if they were in college. And then they generally continue that way: very casually. It almost, to me, feels like Norwegians are very non-committal; not because they’re afraid of commitment, but simply because they don’t feel that it’s necessary all of the time in relationships.
I know a lot of people who have gotten engaged, but never set any kind of a date. Or I know a lot of people who are basically married, who have been together for ten years, have three or four kids together, but aren’t even engaged.
So it’s kind of a very casual, laid-back perspective on relationships. Me wanting to get married, I kind of had to push my husband into the idea of getting married as soon as we actually did. We’d been together for five years, but to him, he could have probably waited, still, another five years.
Carlie: There’s just not a high value placed on making things official?
Chelsea: I would say, for the most part, yeah. Of course, there are exceptions, and there are plenty of people who do get married when they’re young. But for the most part, in my experience, I’ve seen the majority of the people just in very serious relationship. They call it [sombor?], so it’s like an official title of living together, and so you’re basically domestic partners, but not officially married.
Carlie: Moving pace to food, your eighth tip for getting into the Norwegian way of life is to like fish.
Chelsea: I hope you like fish, that’s for sure!
Carlie: It might be a problem if you don’t.
Chelsea: It’s definitely a little tricky, especially if you come to Lofoten. Lofoten is kind of a fisherman’s holy grail.
Every winter, in about February/March, there is a World Cup of Cod Fishing here in Lofoten. And the cod that comes to this area during that time is a really special kind of cod, called scray, and it basically comes from the North Pole down through the North Sea down to Lofoten, and this is where they breed. And only the strongest make their way all the way down here.
Carlie: Sounds intense!
Chelsea: It is intense. And so it’s a very good… it is intense, it’s a whole trek that they have to make. But the resulting fish is actually some of the best cod in the world. I hope, if you come to Norway, that not only you like the taste of fish, but also that you don’t mind the smell of it, especially if you come to Lofoten.
Because between this time, February/March, until about June or July, thousands upon thousands of codfish – multiple kinds of fish, there’s haddock as well, but mostly cod – are being hung to dry on these fishing racks, these wooden fishing racks, all over the archipelago of Lofoten. In fact, I actually have one just up the hill from my house, it’s probably twenty metres, thirty metres away, from my house.
Carlie: I can’t imagine what that must be like on a bad wind direction day.
Chelsea: Yeah. Exactly. And thankfully, when it’s at its smelliest it’s so cold that it actually almost freezes the fish to where you don’t get that intense of a smell. Once it starts to warm up, as the months get warmer and warmer, it’s so dry at that stage that the smell – of course it’s there, but it’s not the smell of rotten fish, it’s just the smell of fish.
Carlie: So it’s a bit like Iceland smelling a bit of sulphur; Norway smells a bit of fish.
Chelsea: In our region, yes. Absolutely. There are some parts of Norway where you would say that about sheep, there’s more sheep smell. But in my particular corner, yeah. Fish is the… fish is the perfume between February and June.
Carlie: I guess you wouldn’t worry so much about BO if you’re out and about, hey?
Chelsea: [laughs] No, really you don’t, you kind of just embrace it.
Carlie: Blame it on the fish.
Chelsea: Blame it on the fish. And actually the locals, they have a saying, they say it smells like money. I’m not quite there yet, I don’t think it smells quite like money to me yet, but maybe eventually I’ll feel that way also.
Carlie: Maybe you need to set up a few little fish racks outside your house, make that money.
Chelsea: We have one, actually, under our terrace as well. My husband is very much looking forward to hanging his own fish and drying it for the summer months.
Carlie: Your ninth point is about the dark and light periods, and I find this fascinating. I can’t wait to experience it. I just got back from Iceland this summer, where we had daylight almost all the time, but it still got obviously darker at night. So I’m really curious about the extremes that you experience in Norway, and your part of Norway.
Chelsea: Well it’s very similar. Obviously you have a bit more darkness in Iceland because it’s just a little bit further south, but I would say that at its peak, for about a month, you don’t see darkness at all. In mid-June and mid-August, you will get a darker period where there is, maybe, an hour of twilight, but it’s still light enough that you wouldn’t need your headlights to drive, necessarily.
And in the dark, it’s quite the opposite. So in the winter you would have 24 hours of dark. And I personally am a huge fan of the summer months: to me it feels like this neverending magical time of summer, and when it starts to get dark I actually get a little bit sad, because that to me is a symbol that summer is over.
But the wintertime, for a California girl, was the biggest struggle. I wasn’t really worried about the cold, I was worried about the dark. It is 24 hours dark, I would say, from mid-December until the beginning of January, so it’s a shorter period where it’s extremely dark, but even then, when the light starts to come back it’s really for an hour or so at a time.
So really, it’s a huge adjustment. The one saving grace I would say the dark period has, is that you get to see the Northern Lights. So the Northern Lights makes up for the dark, but it’s still, of course, a struggle. And you don’t really feel like going out and being social.
So that’s why making your house really cozy, with candles everywhere, lighting a fire… there’s actually a book called The Little Book of Hygge. And it’s a Danish book, but it’s the same concept in Norway: they just want to make everything cozy, and that is so you can endure these long, dark winter months without being too depressed, just as much as they make it enjoyable to be outdoors.
So you actually look forward to the winter months, because those are the months you know you’re going to be spending more time indoors, and be comfortable.
Carlie: What are your techniques, practically speaking, for coping with 24 hours of darkness, and in summer 24 hours of daylight?
Chelsea: Well they’re very different techniques, as you can imagine. In the daylight period, I don’t cope probably as well as I should, because I just embrace having a lot of light, so I generally stay up quite late. Very often, I am up at least until two o’clock in the morning in the summer months, so I don’t wake up until later in the day.
The practical side of it, really, you would just need blackout curtains. The biggest saving grace for you in the summer months is to invest in good blackout curtains and an eye mask. If you’ve got a good sleeping mask, that’s helpful as well.
And really, just to try and force yourself to keep a regular schedule. It’s not always easy, because your natural body clock is responsive to the light. Even my dog, for example, was really struggling this summer: I could sense that she was very confused the first couple weeks since we brought her from France to Norway.
It was her first Norwegian summer, and you could really sense that she didn’t understand when it was time to eat; when it was time to go to bed. Because for her, it needed to be dark when it was bedtime; it needed to be dark when it was time for dinner.
Carlie: I remember being in Australia, and just that switch in Daylight Savings Time, and my parents trying to put us to bed when it was still light outside, and what a pain that was for them.
Chelsea: Yeah, for kids.
Carlie: Norwegian parents must have so much patience.
Chelsea: I don’t know how they manage. I’m sure I will figure it out when I have one myself, but yeah, absolutely, they do.
Then again, they grow up with this. I also think, of course, that the Norwegians just let their kids stay up later in the summer. They embrace light, and they let their kids embrace it as well.
Carlie: How do you then embrace the dark, especially coming from sunny California? What are your coping mechanisms for those times of year when it is just so… I mean, I lived in London for three years, and I found it getting dark at four p.m. in winter to be depressing, so I can’t imagine not seeing the sun for a whole day, or a whole month.
Chelsea: It’s very challenging. A lot of people told me to invest in a daylight bulb, which I’m still considering doing, so I’ll let you know if I end up breaking down and buying a daylight bulb.
But for the most part, you just gain a whole new appreciation for the sun when it’s out. There’s actually a book that my mother-in-law gave me, called The 100 Unwritten Norwegian Social Laws, by Egil… oh gosh, I’m going to butcher his last name… Aslak Hagerup? Yeah. And he kind of hits the nail on the head.
The cover of the book is a picture of a little boy asking his dad, as they sit looking out of the window, if this woman who is sitting outside in the snow, if she is OK. And he says, “Yes, she is OK, she’s Norwegian.” Because it’s the first day that the sun gets back.
So even if it is -18 degrees out, if the sun comes out, everybody sits outside and soaks in the sun for the first ten minutes that it’s out. So you really gain an appreciation for it in a way that I never, ever thought would exist. But here in Norway, as soon as the sun’s out, they are making the most of being outside. It’s quite amazing to see.
But in terms of embracing the dark, really it’s just to make it cozy inside. We light candles from sunup – not from sunup! – from the moment we wake up, until the moment we go to bed. We have candles always lit; we’ve got board games, movies, a fire in the fireplace; it’s just all about making the home a very cozy, comfortable place to be.
And then we can sit and enjoy those months when it’s dark, and then be ready with your energy, basically you’ve hibernated for the winter and you’re ready to go out and enjoy the summer to its fullest, as well.
Carlie: Do you ever get a little bit frustrated, or stir-crazy?
Chelsea: Yes. The biggest frustration I had was that it was icy everywhere. Because we’re a chain of islands we actually are right in the Gulf Stream – the Gulf Stream that comes out from Florida and Mexico – and it creates some pretty mild temperatures. So even though we’re in the Arctic, it doesn’t get quite as cold as you would think it would. Of course it’s not warm, but it’s not as extreme as you would expect.
So because of this, we’ll have snow one day, and the next day it will rain. It doesn’t stay snowy on the ground all the time. However, it’s cold enough that the rain turns into ice. So more often than not, it’s just ice everywhere. And I am like Bambi when I walk on ice, so I had to buy these little crampons that allowed me to walk without slipping and falling, and I felt like everybody looked at me like I was this old grandma, because the only other people I ever saw wearing them were old people.
So then I got frustrated, because I felt like… just trying to walk to the grocery store, why can’t I… why is it so difficult to walk to the grocery store in this damn place? But of course, the pros outweigh the cons.
Carlie: What’s a favourite winter escape for Norwegians?
Chelsea: They love to go out in the mountains, as I said, and I would say anytime from February until Easter is, like, peak snow play time. I am determined to enjoy it. I have to like it because, as the saying in Norway goes, “Norwegian babies are born with skis on their feet.” So I am not going to be that Norwegian mother who one day has a two-year-old kid who goes flying past me on skis, and I’m standing at the top of the hill crying.
Carlie: [laughs] While they’re showing you up, on the black runs. I can see it.
Chelsea: Exactly. I can see it now too, and I don’t want that to happen. So I am making it my winter mission this year to actually improve my skiing skills.
Carlie: Chelsea, your tenth and final point on how to embrace life the Norwegian way is to take up knitting. And a lot of what you’ve said today means that suddenly, taking up knitting makes a lot of sense to me.
Chelsea: And that actually, I would say, is probably one of the biggest activities that I left out from what we try to entertain ourselves with during the dark periods.
The Norwegian women are the best knitters I’ve ever seen. They can knit amazingly intricate patterns without even looking down, and I am desperate to learn how to knit as well as they are.
That’s one of the things that helps keep them social in these darker times: knitting groups that actually are like a book club – meet monthly, sometimes more, to knit, chat, gossip; really just get the girls together and catch up. If you get an invitation to one of these, you pretty much know that you’ve made it in Norwegian society. Or even better yet, if you get a home-knit sweater gifted to you, then you can pretty much call yourself a Norwegian.
Of course you do have the older female demographic knitting, but a huge percentage of younger Norwegians are knitting as well. It’s a very common thing for all ages, which is great because at the end of the day, you can make yourself something cozy to wear in the wintertime.
Carlie: Having built up all of this cultural knowledge over five years of being in Norway, is there anything you wish you would have done differently when you first moved?
Chelsea: That’s a very good question. I have an answer that’s maybe a silly one, but it ties into my second point, of there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.
I bought my winter jacket in California. Let me rephrase that. I bought what I thought was going to be my winter jacket in California, before I moved. That jacket ended up being my summer jacket, because it was basically a light, puffy ski jacket.
And I think I would have prepared my wardrobe a lot better. I would have spent more money in order to get the good quality down that I needed, and to get outdoor shoes and outdoor pants, because this saying, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, is one of the things that I have learned to be one of the most true sayings the Norwegians have.
If you’re dressed properly for the weather, it’s actually enjoyable to sit out in the middle of the storm and feel the weather, or stand in the snow, in the freezing cold, in the middle of the night, watching the Northern Lights for hours. It’s comfortable to do that if you’re dressed properly.
So I think I would have prepared my wardrobe a little bit better, and maybe I would have learned a little bit more of the language. Of course, in Norway they’re very comfortable speaking English, and I didn’t mention this in any of my points, but I will say, they do appreciate when you make a little bit of an effort, like any country would, to speak their own language. It’s something I wish I had invested a little bit more time in from the start.
Carlie: If there’s one thing that listeners should take away and remember about living like a Norwegian, what would it be?
Chelsea: I think the Norwegians as a whole are really good at finding the silver lining in a negative situation. So in the winter, when it’s really dark, they tend to just encourage each other by saying “Oh, this is going to be so much nicer when it’s sunny out; it’s going to make the summer so much better.”
And then in the summertime, they’re often saying the same thing about the winter: that they’re actually looking forward to it being dark so they can sit inside and curl up on the couch, and light some candles, without feeling guilty about missing out on a beautiful day and wanting to sit out all night long.
So their whole mentality, in general, is to find the positives in things. So I think that’s something that I have really learned to value after living in Norway, and I think, if you want to live like a Norwegian, that’s a good place to start.
Carlie: That’s it for today. If you have any questions for Chelsea or want to share your own experience of life in Norway, head over to expatfocus.com, follow the links to our Norway forum or Facebook group.
Be sure to check out our other episodes, we cover all aspects of expat life all over the world. If you like what we do, please leave us a review, and I’ll catch you next time!