The Norwegian habits that are just impossible to shake off

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The Norwegian habits that are just impossible to shake off
Have you bought lots of knitted sweaters to keep warm? Photo: HappyCity/Depositphotos"

Norwegian traits can quickly become part of everyday life after living in the country for a while. We asked which habits you just can't shake off, which ones you like – and which ones you try to avoid.


We received varied and interesting responses to our survey – many thanks to all who took the time to get in touch.

What are the most common habits you picked up?

One thing you tended to agree on here was the need to wrap up warm.

“Wearing wool tights, top, gloves and socks,” was the first habit mentioned by Crystal Turnbull, who moved from South Africa to Ås in Akershus County just over a year ago.

On a related note, Turnbull also said she had taken up knitting while in Norway.

“During (the) first week I was terrified and even worked from home, thinking that it is too cold to go outside,” wrote Nepalese Rajesh Joshi, who also lives in Ås having moved to Norway to do a PhD four years ago

“In Kathmandu (where I am from), if the temperature was below zero we would take leave or just be inside the house. But here, it was impossible.

“Now-a-days I even bike to work every day in winter, no matter how much the temperature is,” Joshi explained.

Other habits mentioned on more than one occasion involved peculiar Norwegian modes of expression.

“Allowing long pauses in conversations. Actively going around a room of strangers and shaking hands with every single one. I picked this habit up quickly, maybe a couple of weeks. It probably took a couple of months for me to get used to the long, quiet pauses in conversations. I still notice it but it bothers me less now,” Turnbull said.

The quick Norwegian ‘what?’ is an easy one to mimic, says Slovakian Dominik Masiarcin, who has lived in northern Norway near Tromsø since April.

READ ALSO: 'Tromsø is a city of extremes and there is something special about that'

“(The) Norwegian ‘what?’, really fast, like ‘ha?’ I do it all the time, even though to be honest I hate it,” Masiarcin wrote.

“It is not really polite way how to ask ‘what’ in my country,” he continued, but also noted that it wasn’t all bad.

“’Ikke stress’ ['no stress' in Norwegian, ed.]… I actually appreciate! No stress is really the greatest thing ever happened to me… I didn’t feel stress since I moved to Norway,” he said.

Taking shoes off when going inside is a habit Carol Dijkhuyzen Smith, of the Netherlands and US, said she had picked up in Norway.

Which Norwegian habits do you dislike or try to avoid?

Generally, those who contacted us said they don't regret picking up Norwegian habits and welcomed the positive effects the Scandinavian land has had.

“About (saying) ‘what’: I would like to stop doing it, at least outside Norway. Regarding ‘no stress’: I would like to make it my motto! Life is much better!,” Masiarcin said.

The sentiments were also voiced by Joshi.

“I am glad that I picked up this habit [of going out in the cold], because at least this has helped me to be more active,” the Nepalese PhD student wrote.

But the Norwegian fondness for bread hadn't worked out so well, he added.

“Eating bread for lunch is the habit I try to avoid, simply because I don't like bread. If I eat bread for lunch, I start to feel hungry after a few hours and cannot focus on my work. A proper lunch has helped me to focus on my work,” he wrote.

Dijkhuyzen Smith said she preferred not to border shop.

“Driving to a large store near Sweden because it is cheaper! I support the stores in Oslo,” she wrote.

The inhaled Norwegian ‘ja’, meanwhile, was a non-starter for Turnbull, who said she was otherwise glad to have picked up Norwegian habits.

“I can’t do the inhaling ‘ja’ sound. It doesn’t come easily and I won’t force it,” she wrote.

Are there any archetypal Norwegian habits that we’ve missed? Any that you have learned from Norwegians or Norway that you particularly enjoy? Let us know.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
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