Norway Explained For Members

Ten signs that you're becoming more Norwegian than the Norwegians

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
Ten signs that you're becoming more Norwegian than the Norwegians
How to stay safe in ski slopes in Austria. Photo by Pierre Jarry on Unsplash

From eating brown cheese to forsaking cash and picking up cross-country skiing as a new religion, these are the signs that you're slowly - but surely - turning into a true Norwegian.


In the first few months of living in Norway, hardly a week will pass without you noticing a fascinating new aspect of Norwegian culture and society.

At first, you're likely to be somewhat suspicious of the borderline obsessive relationship with (salted) butter and sweet buns (boller) or their deep-rooted instinct to head for the mountains at the first glimpse of sunny weather.

However, as time goes by, and months turn into years, you're highly likely to start picking up local habits and – more broadly speaking – the Norwegian way of life.

Not only that, in a weird turn of events, you might even start zealously indulging in them as much as – or even more – than the locals.

Here are some obvious signs that your cultural-social metamorphosis is well underway.

1. Overindulging in brown cheese

While technically not a cheese, Norwegian brown cheese (brunost in Norwegian) is a breakfast and snack staple in many households nationwide.

It's traditionally made from goat's milk or a blend of goat's milk and cow's milk and has a caramel-like texture and a sweet, slightly tangy flavour. It's also one of the first foods that Norwegians introduce to visitors or people who move to the country.

At first, you might be put off by this caramel-tasting brown cheese, but after enjoying a few dozen toasts and waffles filled with brunost, butter, and marmalade, don't be surprised if you start developing a craving for this beloved product.


A lot of Norwegians don't carry around any cash. Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash

2. Forsaking cash

Norway has transitioned to a highly cashless society in recent years - and the coronavirus pandemic helped accelerate the process.

While the fact that no one carries cash around (and that most businesses and staff working at their counters seem less than enthusiastic whenever they need to deal with cash) felt strange when you moved to Norway, the convenience and speed of relying mainly on digital payment methods are likely to creep up on you.

In no time at all, you'll be using the mobile payment app Vipps like a local, and don't be surprised if you feel the urge to boast about the benefits of going cashless on trips back to your home country. It happens to a lot of people.

READ MORE: Why Norwegians have turned their back on cash


3. Picking up cross-country skiing as a religion

Cross-country skiing is extremely popular in Norway, and for good reason - it can be enjoyed by people of all fitness levels and ages.

Furthermore, it's pretty beginner-friendly and relatively easy to master.

Even hesitant ex-pats who move to Norway from warmer countries are likely to appreciate the upsides of cross-country skiing - it allows you to take in stunning winter landscapes while exercising.

You might find yourself looking forward to the winter and Easter holidays in Norway just to get a chance to get on your skis and partake in an activity that has been popular in Norway for centuries.

EXPLAINED: What you should know about Norway’s cross-country skiing culture

4. Embracing function over fashion for your entire wardrobe

Let's face it – Norway isn't exactly known for nice and stable weather. Some parts of the country, such as the Bergen and Trondheim area, are particularly rainy.

Therefore, you'll likely have to start prioritizing function over fashion when it comes to your clothes out of sheer necessity – people usually make the decision after the first time they get soaking wet because their clothes aren't waterproof.

5. You hear yourself saying "ja, ja" instead of "okay" in most conversations

It's bound to happen – and when it does, you barely register it at first.


You'll be involved in a conversation with a Norwegian, and even if the conversation is in English, you'll catch yourself saying "Ja… ja…" (yes… yes, in Norwegian), nodding at your friend as they tell you about their day or a recent event.

When exactly does the "ja, ja" shift happen? No one knows exactly, but it took roughly a year for me to realize that I've become a "ja, ja" conversationalist.


If you can, invest in waterproof clothing as soon as you move to Norway. Photo by Nikhil Prasad on Unsplash

6. Never missing a chance to go outdoors, even in the pouring (Bergen) rain

You'll hear this over and over again from Norwegians – because it's true: "There's no bad weather, just bad clothes."

In Bergen, Norway's second-largest (and wettest) city, there's another saying: "If you wait for nice weather, you'll never leave the house."

A few months into living in Norway, you'll realise that people aren't exaggerating. The weather (in all seasons except for summer) tends to be very volatile and can change multiple times a day (from sun to rain to snow to sun again).

So don't make your life harder than it needs to be. Accept the fact that a lot of your walks and hikes will take place in the rain.

Just make sure you have waterproof clothes and wear layers that will keep you nice and warm before leaving the house.


7. Not flinching at the price tag for a beer or cup of coffee

Norway is a notoriously expensive country and is regularly ranked as one of the most expensive places to live in Europe.

The flat-out shock you'll experience seeing the price tag after the first time you order a round of drinks for a table of friends in Oslo in Bergen only lasts so long.

While the prices are high, the wages tend to be very high as well, which sort of evens out things.

While you'll likely continue to secretly feel ripped off whenever you buy most things anywhere (from coffee and beers to meat and milk) for months (or even years), at some point in time, you'll make peace with the fact that that's just the reality of living in this Scandinavian country.

8. Mastering the science of layering clothes

As we have already pointed out, the weather in Norway can be unpredictable, and temperatures can vary widely throughout the day.


By wearing layers, Norwegians can adjust their clothing to stay comfortable as conditions change - and this is a skill that you need to pick up fast.

You're highly likely to learn how and when to wear layers during your first winter in Norway. In the winter months, it can be freezing outside, but inside buildings, the temperature is often much warmer.

Once you master wearing layers, you'll be able to remove or add clothing as needed to stay comfortable. Like a true Norwegian!

Hot dog

Hot dogs are somewhat of an iconic food in Norway. Photo by Josh Pereira on Unsplash

9. You've developed a taste for hot dogs

While hot dogs do not enjoy a sterling reputation outside of Norway, both are beloved foods in the country.

Hot dogs have almost a cult status and are almost an unavoidable part of any barbeque and camping/hiking trip. They can also be found in kiosks and stores throughout Norway's major cities.

Norwegians even have a unique way of eating hot dogs, they put it in a sort of potato tortilla, and it is called pølse i lompe.

Sooner or later, the (love of) dogs will get you.

10. You've discovered a love for saunas

Saunas are one of the key elements of well-being in Scandinavia, and Norway is no exception. The practice of using saunas in the country spans back centuries, and a lot of people grew up with saunas as part of their relaxation routine.

While your first trip to the sauna with your Norwegian friends might be out of curiosity or courtesy, don't be surprised if you get hooked by the sauna's benefits, such as the relaxation of muscles and stress relief.

It's also a great social setting for friends (and family) to gather and relax together – which is particularly appreciated during the winter months.


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