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READERS REVEAL: What annoys foreign residents in Norway?

Norway, generally speaking, is a fantastic place to live. However, some quirks and peculiarities can be frustrating for foreign residents. The Local's readers have had their say on what annoys them.

Bergen Harbour
These are the things The Local's readers find irritating about life in Norway. Pictured is Bergen. Photo by Ignacio Ceballos on Unsplash

No country is perfect, and Norway is no different from anywhere else in the world in that regard.

And, although it is a pretty great place to live with plenty of perks and positives that are worth writing home about, there are plenty of minor annoyances with life in the country that can get on the nerves of foreign residents.

Earlier this week, we ran a survey asking readers what annoyed them about life in Norway. Many readers were kind enough to share their thoughts (thank you) on their biggest bugbears with Norway.

By far and away, the biggest annoyance with life in Norway for The Local’s readers was to do with the country’s supermarkets.

These issues come in two forms. Firstly readers find themselves at odds with the less than stellar variety on offer in shops.

“All the supermarkets have basically the same things,” Kansas from Karmøy said when responding to our survey.

The lack of variety means some are forced to make multiple trips to different stores to get everything they need.

“Grocery shopping is a pain. You have to go to multiple stores if you want to pay a lower price or get fresher items. For instance, Meny has the best meat selection, but diapers (nappies) are expensive there. Rema has a great store brand diaper, but their vegetables aren’t always fresh. The list continues. This also goes for home maintenance supplies. You have to go to multiple stores to get what you need,” Paige explained when asked what annoyed them about life in Norway.

It wasn’t just the lack of choice and shopping around to get what you need that irritated readers. Many said shops being closed on Sundays was an issue for them.

“Everything is closed on Sundays. And the size of the Sunday supermarkets (is irritating),” Andrew, who lives in Trondheim, told The Local.

Scott, who doesn’t live in Norway, but works in the country a lot, said that not being able to vent about the country’s high prices was a source of frustration.

“The fact that every time you make a statement about prices for food, petrol or services you get ‘welcome to Norway” like, we just put up with it and you can too,” he said.

On the topic of steep prices, one reader said they were fed up with the high cost of several things, such as domestic flight prices, car prices and high house deposits.

It’s not just the high cost of things bugging the Local’s readers. One annoying thing for Tina in Hokksund is the time that Norwegians choose to take their lunch breaks.

“Lunch at 11 means I end up eating dinner twice before bedtime,” she said.

One small thing about life in Norway that was annoying Alyssa from Trondheim was a by-product of the Norwegian winter.

“Gravel as an anti-slip system in winter. Little bits are always getting wedged in the treads of my shoes,” Alyssa said when responding to our survey.

For another reader, the difficulty and cost of obtaining a driving licence to hit the open road was one drawback to life in Norway.

“(the) long process of trying to get a driving license is super energy consuming, costs a lot of money and has a very strict exam,” Keke from Trondheim told The Local.

Semi-related was one reader’s frustration at the extra hoops foreign residents need to jump through, compared to Norwegians, to do things like buying a car.

“Norwegians sometimes don’t realise what it’s like for a foreigner to do basic things like buying a car … so they will tell you ‘oh, it’s so easy to use your Bank ID and register your car’ without realising the incredible number of hurdles you’ll have to overcome to even get a Bank ID! They’ve grown up with this stuff automatically and sometimes don’t realise all the bureaucracy that exists for those who immigrate to Norway. But it’s never intentional,” Julianna from Bø said.

Furthermore, while Norwegians are known for their love of nature and outdoor focused mindset and lifestyle, one reader has questioned why they seem so opposed to having trees on their property.

“I cannot understand Norwegians’ relationship with trees. I love trees, but where I live, there are hardly any trees around houses, in gardens, and or on streets. I understand there are billions of trees growing in this country, but why don’t people here want to be close to trees? Often when you see a house for sale, it’s clear that someone went around with an axe and chopped every single tree and mature bush around the house (down). Why?” Arek, from Arendal, questioned when responding to our survey.

And finally, our question left one reader pondering even more questions in a light-hearted response on the many things in Norway that leave them confused and irritated.

“Why do Norwegians call dinner ‘middag’ (aka ‘mid-day?’) when it’s at the end of the day? Why do they end conversations with ‘hei’ (aka hi?”)? Why don’t their shopping carts go straight? Why is it impossible to take a shower without getting water all over the bathroom floor? And on this topic, how is it possible that it costs $5 to shower these days?! Why do you have to pay for bags at stores (yet they offer to wrap your gifts for free)? Why does throwing out trash have to be a Herculean effort in identifying (and sorting) it by its component parts? What would Norwegians do without IKEA and Teslas? Why is every bed made up to look like a giant burrito featuring you as its contents? Why is it considered normal for chicken to smell so so bad out of the package? Why does every cafe serve the exact same four pastries? Why is eating a sheep’s eye considered a rite of passage? Why do you need strong alcoholic drinks to make traditional foods palatable (like the aforementioned sheep eye)? What do Norwegians have against stop signs? Why don’t packages come to your door rather than you having to pick them up at a grocery store? Why is ‘koselig’ every other word that comes out of my husband’s mouth here? Never have I ever heard him say ‘cosy’ at home. Furthermore, why is ‘ikke sant’ used as an affirmation despite it meaning ‘not true’?” Jaimee from Hvalstad said when asked what irritated them about life in the country.

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