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Politeness, customs and attitude in Norway

Between English and Norwegian culture, the customs differ. I like some of them, and others much less. Though I personally enjoyed the respect shown in Norway, sometimes I was annoyed by the extreme discipline, not making life easy for me during the first few days of my six-month stay in this beautiful country.  

A Norwegian child pouting

Norway, a disciplined country: the rules are the rules!

It’s clear that in Norway, you keep strictly to the straight and narrow! We Brits sometimes have a tendency to bend the rules to achieve our goals. Forget about this bad habit in Norway. Administration in particular doesn't grant any favours. So send in your documents before the deadline, wait until it is your turn to cross the road, let people get off the bus before boarding, etc. 

If you need to buy alcohol during your stay in Norway, you should know that alcohol is only sold in State monopolies called "Vinmonopolet", whose opening hours are not very accommodating, especially on Saturdays (they close at 3:00 PM). These measures are meant to limit consumption.

Respect for the environment and others, values that everyone seems to have integrated in their lives

Respect, politeness, cleanliness, honesty, punctuality, are all acquired values in Norway. For example, be sure to remove your shoes before entering a Norwegian House. The owners will gladly offer you some slippers. Don't be surprised or shocked by the attitude of some mothers leaving their children in strollers to wait patiently at store entrances while they do some shopping. This habit is representative of the trust in others that reigns in this country. 

Sorting and recycling are an integral part of life for Norwegians. To encourage people to sort, most food stores have machines with a simple principle: 1 bottle = 1 Norwegian crown deducted from your total cost of groceries. Taking down the dustbin is no longer a chore, believe me! Also, if you're sensitive to the issues of sustainable development, the country is for you, because it's very focused on eco-tourism. 

The Norwegians speak English very well, and as long as you're around, English will predominate. You'll feel very much included and accommodated warmly. Nonetheless, you should know that the Norwegian population is rather cold and aloof at first, so don't wait for them to come to you or you'll be wasting your time.

Jade Hochart
10 contributions
Updated 20 October 2015

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