Monday, September 10, 2012

Norway vs. the US in Everyday Life

Gas stations, chatty people, Starbucks, traffic, shopping malls, air conditioning, DVR, happy hour, highways, mani/pedis, 24 hour fitness, draughts and 40 hours/week.  These are all things that remind me of everyday life back in Colorado.

Cobblestone streets, wooden houses, orange buses, broken umbrellas, Friele coffee, a blue stone, Hansa, hills,  rain boots, sandwiches, the fish market, wool, cruise ships, drumming, and rain.  These are all things that remind me of daily life in Bergen.

It's interesting how small things can make such a huge difference in a persons everyday life.  When I was visiting Colorado this summer, I realized that I barely walked.  You can park and walk less than 50 steps to get anywhere you want, and sometimes you don't even need to get out of the car. Drive thru food, coffee, pharmacies and even banks are everywhere.  There are new types of tasty (aka fatty) food creations everywhere, a fried chicken sandwich with bacon, cheese and a fried egg, bacon, lettuce and fried pickle sandwiches and my favorite...salted oreo milkshakes!  I saw a news report that an average of 30% of the american population is obese. Not overweight, but obese.  In Norway, you walk to the bus, to work, out the grocery store.  Even in the rain.  You don't have cheap and unhealthy food accessible to you at anytime, anywhere.  It's difficult to find 15 different types of the same processed foods in the grocery stores. And you also do not see 30% of the population being obese (Norway's number is 8.3%).  There is no effort needed to get up and moving a little bit everyday, and that is refreshing.

Look closely. Salted peanut butter cup. Surprisingly delicious!!

Communication styles and attitudes are also extremely different in these two places, and it was easy to recognize when visiting Colorado.  Coloradans are known for being very friendly.  "How are you?" is a normal greeting.  A smile is expected when running past a fellow runner on the path or sitting across from someone on a bus.  Small talk is part of everyday life, checking out at the grocery store, waiting in line for coffee, or taking a break at work.  Norwegians are known for being a little colder, unless you know them or if they've had a few drinks.  Many people see this as a negative but I have realized how nice it is to know when someone is talking to you, and asking you how you are, they are being sincere.  There aren't as many superficial people and conversations.  It is also refreshing as sometimes you just want to keep your mouth closed.

Stress.  The reason I left my job in Denver and one big thing I do not miss.  People in Norway stress, but not like they do in the states. You work to live, you don't live to work.  I think this is a huge distinction between the "normal" lifestyle in the US vs. Norway.  If you are sick, you have time off to get better.  If you have a baby, you and your husband most likely can take time off.  If you have a family commitment, sick child or emergency, most of the time you can leave work without the risk of losing your job.  I can honestly say I love not dreaming about work every night and waking dreading my upcoming day in the office.

Now that I have been in Norway long enough to feel comfortable and settled, I have gotten used to the everyday life.  I love walking, looking at the people walking down the streets and enjoying some peaceful time to myself.  I feel healthier and more rounded.  I enjoy spending time with my friends, talking about things I care about and skipping the superficial chit chat.  Even though I don't have a permanent, full time job, I stress 90% less than I did in Colorado.

I won't lie and say I don't miss an iced coffee from Starbucks, a $25 mani/pedi or driving to the grocery store.  But I've inherited new habits and daily pleasures.  Painting my own fingers and toes, sitting for a cup of coffee and a chat with a friend and my weekly running group and Norwegian pilates class.  Every person is different and Norway might not be ideal for everyone.  But for the time being, Norway is my top pick.



  1. I love this, and it's so true about job stress! I'm married to a Norwegian. We plan to move to Norway in a couple of years, so it's nice to read about it. We are in Norway every summer. I lived in Denver for 13 years in City Park, but right now we live in Lexington KY.

  2. Hey!! I'm glad you enjoyed the post and it's always great to hear from another Denverite. There are so many differences, which I hear so many people complain about, but in the end it is such a great thing!! Norway is a wonderful place and I'm sure you will love it!