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How foreigners in Norway have made themselves 'more Norwegian' to fit in

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
How foreigners in Norway have made themselves 'more Norwegian' to fit in
The Local's readers have shared the ways in which they have made themselves more Norwegian to fit in. Pictured is a Norwegian woman cross-country skiing with dogs. Photo by ROMAOSLO/ Getty Images.

From taking up new hobbies, tweaking their diets, and placing a more Norwegian name on their CV to changing how they act in social situations, foreigners in Norway have shared their stories of fitting in.

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Moving to a new country is full of challenges, and there’s plenty to suggest that Norway is a harder country than most to adapt to. 

Several surveys have typically ranked Norway as one of the hardest countries in the world for foreigners to adapt to.

In our own survey among readers, many said that Norway deserved this ranking, or even if it didn’t, adjusting to life in the country wasn’t easy

READ ALSO: How Norway's views on immigration have changed over time

We recently asked our readers if they had tried making themselves “more Norwegian” to fit in, and while there was a small sample size, 84 percent said they did. 

The ways in which people have tweaked the ways they behaved varied greatly. Many said they had changed the way they dressed and the things they ate. 

When it came to dressing “more Norwegian,” a previous survey among our readers revealed that the most distinctive aspect of dressing like a Norwegian was dressing for the weather.

One other respondent said that they had changed the name on their CV to try to boost their job prospects. 

Many found the process of trying to fit in quite pleasant, picking and choosing the aspects of Norwegian life they liked best. 

“Yes, I have enjoyed trying to be more Norwegian, particularly going på tur in whatever weather with the right clothes on! I’m so used to saying hei hei when I pass people, especially out on a hike, that I got some strange looks when it slipped out in Ireland,” Katherine, who has lived in Canada and New Zealand but now lives close to Bodø in northern Norway, wrote. 

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Others said they tried to remain themselves while picking up Norwegian habits. 

“I have tried to remain myself while embracing aspects of Norwegian culture, for example, I’ve started skiing, I’m enjoying the concept of frilufsliv,” Marie, a South African resident who has lived in Norway for five years, said. 

Anthony, an American who recently relocated to Norway, said that while he wasn’t trying to be “more Norwegian”, he had changed his behaviour. 

“It’s not that I’m trying to make myself ‘more Norwegian’ but more that I’m trying to become ‘less American.’ Changing my expectations and behaviours to better match my environment in a very ‘When in Rome...’ manner,” Anthony wrote. 

While many enjoyed the process of becoming more Norwegian or felt that they haven’t had to try and be more like the locals, others have had a more frustrating experience of trying to fit in. 

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Kari, an American who has spent a decade in Norway, said that trying to adapt had left her feeling frustrated. 

“I’ve tried to suppress my emotions like happiness and sadness, etc, and have tried to speak more quietly with fewer words. I give less compliments to others, and I smile less. In doing so, I’ve ended up feeling more frustrated,” she wrote. 

Will, a Brit who has lived in Norway for almost nine years, has said that trying to become more Norwegian in his approach to work and education had left him feeling “unfulfilled”. 

“At university, I was repeatedly told I was ‘showing off’ and therefore I stopped trying hard on exams, because as one examiner told me ‘you’ll lose marks if you keep referencing’,” he wrote. 

“At work, anytime I came up with a critique of how we could improve things, I was often met with criticism that ‘I don’t understand Norway’ (even though I speak fluent Norwegian and have lived here nearly nine years).

So, in the last year, I’ve kept my head down and done the bare minimum. Yes, it’s more relaxing, and the relationship with my colleagues is better, but I feel very unfulfilled in my job,” he said. 

In a previous survey among readers, while many shared their experience of preferring work culture in Norway to other countries, several shared how the approach of their colleagues and higher-ups left them frustrated

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