They say that we International students in such a small place like Volda are so many and so easy to recognize among the Norwegian ones that I don’t have any comments to add. Volda is well known in Norway for it’s International community.
But why so easy to spot? Well, you can see us almost all the time hanging around in groups around school, shops or any other location.You recognise us in the supermarkets between all the expensive products, carefully looking for the First Price items (Norwegian low-cost company with products ranging from food and drinks to cleaning and animal food). We carry around our necks big heavy cameras all the time, so we can keep our friends and family back home updated with cool photos from Volda (bragging). They say we act like we conquered this place after the very first weeks spent here, and in our eyes, they can only read the assurance that we entirely belong to this place. I am still not denying anything.
Norwegian people are hard to understand at first. You can now talk with someone at one party and the next second the person can all of a sudden disappear. The next day he will casually say that he felt tired last night and he needed to go to sleep. “Well, c’mon, you could have said that yesterday night, or maybe just a small goodbye, whatever, just letting me know that you are fine, not sick or robbed somewhere around here” (chances of being robbed here are literally close to 0, but let’s keep this for the sake of the conversation). You feel a little bit of frustration when you don’t understand them, you tell to yourself that Norwegians are simply rude and they don’t know how to behave. You do this if you compare things all the time with the way they are working back in your country. But here, the same rules can’t really apply. Getting stuck to your own values and habits may not be the smartest choice.
Once you get to understand this strange way of being that they have (neutral and reserved most of the time), your life among Norwegians is significantly changing and things are easier. You can properly understand now why their life expectancy is somewhere around 80, 85 years old. People here simply can’t get stressed. They don’t have to learn crappy and useless things at school. They are not thinking that the gas is too expensive or that tomorrow their kids have nothing to eat. When they are upset, they randomly choose a mountain and go hiking. They take their dog and some poop bags and go out for some running. Their kids in a three wheels pram and again, running. Or maybe, why not, a beautiful horse and get outside for a ride. Ultimately, a simple bike would do the same job: will provide them with some relaxing time in the quiet surroundings of the town.
Norwegian people don’t tolerate you. They simply accept you right from the very beginning, if you know how to respect their culture and their way of living. For example, they are curious when it comes about prejudices, but they don’t judge so easy as some other countries in Europe do. They’ve heard that we have in Romania so many gypsies, but again, no judgements or misinterpretations. I have had most of the “gipsy jokes” from my Erasmus colleagues, but none from a Norwegian. Most of them, they know that gypsies come from India and can’t really notice the connection between them and Romanian people. Which is easy to understand, simply because there is no connection to make. I usually don’t insist on explaining why we are so easily confused with gypsies. I do this only if they ask me to do so. Otherwise, I don’t want to complicate their lives with worthless things.
I am not trying to say that Norwegians are the best. They are normal people who know how to live in a civilized society, and the only thing they want from you is to respect their intimacy or their shy, neutral way of being. I could easily say, for instance, that they are too shy and reserved, almost limited, but of course, that won’t be true, because I would talk according to my craziness inside.
Norway has, therefore, an unusual way of tempering a crazy Erasmus student. People here overwhelm you with their informality, their simplicity. Or with the fairness they are relying on. They keep things uncomplicated. Last, but of course, not least, they rely on their oil, but they never brag or be superior when someone says something about their wealth. You could easily get to want to stay more among Norwegian people, maybe you can steal some years when it comes to life expectancy.
*Pictures source: LoveNorge on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LoveNorge?fref=ts