You definitely need a sense of humor when living in a new place. Even from town to town, there are things that are just….different. These differences are magnified when you move further than the next town over. If you get your knickers in a twist easily, good luck…my best advice is just try to laugh it off…..or perhaps share with whoever might read your blog?
Sometimes, I think it is easier to embrace a culture or place where you know things will be radically different. Coming from the states, I think sometimes it is a bit more challenging to accept the differences of being somewhere westernized, where you still partake in the similar activities, and can for the most part speak English. Maybe I shouldn’t say harder to accept, but rather it’s easier to forget that life is different. While deep down at the core, the simple fact that we are all humans living on one Earth brings people together, I think we should also pay some tribute to the wonderful characteristics that make us individually and culturally different.
Living in Norway has honored me with the special privilege of experiencing “same, same, but different.” I often forget that this isn’t just a new location in the states that happens to have fjords, but then there are always those little things that make you say…that is so Norway. With a smile of course. It is Norway after all, they should be “so Norway”!
A lot of things are different, but really it’s the things that people don’t automatically tell you – like about getting a driver’s license – that creep up on you and you sometimes really have to choose if you are about to laugh or cry. I choose laugh and hope you will too.
Here’s the most recent scenario, that gave me a solid chuckle….but mind you, it also didn’t happen to me. A friend of mine who has lived in Norway for 3 years now from the states wanted to return a shirt. If someone hasn’t told you already…definitely ask about the return policy at each individual store. Also, probably get the name of the person you spoke with because the policy might not hold if someone else is on duty. Apparently this store did take returns so said friend was cool with returning it. Obviously, she double checked when she came in for the return and the girl said, sure no problem. Great. Until said friend received a random piece of receipt paper stating she had store credit. It was clarified again that a cash return was desired, and the girl at the register just says – Oh, I’m sorry you need to make an appointment for that when you buy the product.
Oh…Wait, What?! Yup.
So through further clarification….apparently appointment as we would say it, is not meant the same here. But it was deduced that you can only receive a cash refund if, when you purchase an item, you declare that you might return it for a cash refund. Otherwise, you get store credit. I suppose in the case of impulsively spending wayyy too many dollar bills because you decided to stop converting and then got home and converted anyways you are lucky to even get the store credit…but really who says “um, by the way, I might want to return this for cash when they are checking out” unless you knew this was a thing – which of course it was not posted by the register or anywhere in the store.
To a Norwegian, this is not strange – which is why said friend got no gratification in telling her Norwegian husband about her crazy experience at the store and promptly called me. This is just their normal. Probably like Americans getting Big Macs and a Diet Coke…how, what, why? If you are not from here though, and this happened to you for the first time, I think many people can agree they would have a moment of…wait, what?! I ask you in this moment to try to laugh after that moment than burst in to tears if you have in fact spent way too many dollar bills and are trying to undo some of the damage through a return. Better yet, if you are reading this….remember to ask about return policies before purchasing 🙂
But for any country, try to embrace these little moments that might want to make you rip your hair out. See the silver lining, or realize maybe it’s really not the end of the world. I know another amazing woman who did not pass her driver’s test the first time and had to go through the full Norwegian system (I will not go into what that means here, but ask an expat…actually I’m sure you can google into it). Rather than thinking it was a total pain she smiles and says she truly learned a lot from the course and the experience.
I think it is a wonderful thing to realize something that baffles you is someone else’s normal and vice versa.
If you would like a little comedic insight into being an expat in Norway, I highly recommend watching Lillyhammer. It is a series on Netflix and also aired in Norway. I’m sure you can stream it online. It definitely shows a lot of the little “wait, what?!” moments of moving here. If you are coming to Norway, and especially if you have lived here as an expat it is a must. You will definitely relate 😉
Embrace and Enjoy.