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Six Norwegian habits to embrace to make you feel like a local

Six Norwegian habits to embrace to make you feel like a local
These lifehacks will help you find your inner-Norwegian. Photo by Mikita Karasiou on Unsplash
Norway can be a tricky culture to crack at times when it comes to understanding some of the social norms. Here are some of our tips for fitting in and living like a local. 

In Norway, fitting in is a lot more than getting your residence card and picking up the lingo. 

Here are some so-called life hacks to help you fit in. 

Embrace Norwegian eating habits

Norway isn’t best known for its exciting and sophisticated cuisine (frozen pizza is considered a staple of the diet in Norway, for example), but that doesn’t mean you should turn your nose up at it. 

The worst crime Norwegian food can be accused of is maybe being a bit plain; even lutefisk doesn’t have a distinctly strong flavour. Instead, it’s the texture that puts many off trying it again. 

We aren’t saying you need to eat Smalahove (whole roasted lamb head) everyday either, but there are plenty of habits that you should get into. If you’re looking to test your palate, maybe look at our pick of Norwegian foods that aren’t as bad as they sound

In the meantime, why not give a few Norwegian traditions a go. TacoFredag (taco Friday) is perhaps one of the easiest and tastiest habits to get into. 

But remember, there is one golden rule that mustn’t be ignored when putting together a taco Friday: Don’t use hard taco shells. Yes, we know it’s called taco Friday, and for many, this means taco shells, but for it to be a properly Norwegian experience, you’ll need tortillas. 

It might sound counterintuitive but inviting some friends over for Mexican food might help you feel a bit more Norwegian. Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

If you aren’t feeling the idea of Mexican food to make you feel like a proper Norwegian, then we’d recommend brunch instead. 

A Norwegian brunch will consist of hard-boiled eggs, cheeses, cured meats, and fish served on open sandwiches. These toppings can all be called pålegg (spread). If you want to get a vigorous debate going, ask your guests what the best pålegg is. 

READ ALSO: Norwegian word of the day – Pålegg

Give winter sports a try (even if it’s just once) 

Norwegians don’t make a lot of small talk, but it might just be impossible for any foreign resident to go an entire winter without being asked what winter sports they are into. 

You don’t need to go all out and buy a mega cabin, or hytte, in Trysil, Geilo or Hemsedal and embrace the ski bum lifestyle (unless you want to). Still, you should give some form of skiing, such as cross country, alpine, backcountry, or even roller skiing in the summer a try. Snowboarding is also acceptable, but overall Norwegians prefer skiing. 

Your skiing skills may not live up to expectations, but you should give it a go. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Easter and Christmas make excellent times for a cross-country ski trip, and it’s at these times and on these excursions that you’ll find Norwegians at their cheeriest. 

Learn to love the great outdoors

Once the snow melts in Norway, there’ll be abundant opportunities to go camping, hiking, and fishing, sometimes all on the same trip. Even in the most densely packed areas of Oslo and Bergen, you are only 30 minutes away from excellent hiking trails, camping spots and breathtaking nature. 

Unfortunately, especially if you live on the rain-sodden west coast or in the cold, windy North, you will also need to learn to love the great outdoors when the weather isn’t on your side. Ut på tur aldri sur (out on a trip, never sour) is the expression that will sum this mentality up, and you can read about it here.

Learn to form an orderly, socially distanced queue even once the pandemic ends (unless it’s the ski lift) 

If you’ve only been in the country for a short while, then you probably think the queues you see at bus stops are due to social distancing. The truth is that Norwegians have been socially distancing the whole time. 

For the most part, Norway is an organised, efficient and polite society. This applies to queuing too, give at least a couple of meters when waiting for public transport.

You should at least leave a couple of metres between yourself and the next person in the queue, even once Covid-19 measures are lifted. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

This doesn’t apply to the queues at the ski-lift, however, so don’t wait around and expect everyone to wait in an orderly fashion. Otherwise, you’ll get left behind or crushed by the stampede. 

Ditch cash (maybe even the card) and embrace contactless

Norway has been at the forefront of Scandinavian and European countries going contactless. 

In Scandinavia, more and more people are even ditching debit and credit cards and using mobile payment apps instead. A lot of shops and restaurants, especially in the bigger towns and cities will allow you to pay for things with Vipps nowadays.  

There is no doubt you will have heard of Vipps if you’ve been living in Norway for any amount of time at all, if not it’s the mobile payment app used by the vast majority of people here. 

A prime example of when you’ll feel like you’re a local using Vipps is when you are splitting a bill at a restaurant. Instead of making individual card payments suggest one person takes the bill, and everyone sends their share over Vipps. Just remember to actually to send your share.

Avoid small talk 

This one will have introverts rejoicing (on the inside, at least). In most places where English is the native language, small talk starts conversations and breaks up awkward silences. 

In Norway, however, small talk is a lot less common, and the locals can, for the most part, be a bit more reserved around people they aren’t familiar or friendly with. Another thing you may have picked up on is Norwegians like to talk at a distance rather than up close, so don’t take it personally if a Norwegian takes a step back mid-conversation. 


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