7 Things No One Tells You Prior to Moving to Norway

1.  You will never be able to eat strawberries and raspberries from anywhere else in the world again.  This is a fact.  Norwegian berries are so good that I indulge in the 3 months we can get them and can’t stomach imported ones the remainder of the year.  So I basically only eat berries for 3 months a year. 

In fact, since I’m spending so little time in Norway this summer… this has become a major concern of mine.  I am hoping to indulge hardcore once I return.

2.  Pick and choose your friends wisely here. As in, don’t hang out with Negative Nancys.  The attitudes of the people you choose to hang out with from an expat perspective really are contagious and the more negative the people you hang out with, the more negative your expat experience will become.  It is also good to make some friends with Norwegian people

While they are much harder to get to know and befriend, they can teach you so much about the language and culture that you can not get from other expats.  I am lucky to have a good mix of friends here and have been able to learn a lot from every single one of them!

3.  Careful on the bread and potatoes!  This country is a haven for fatty meats, heavy (yet ridiculously delicious) bread, and carbs galore.  Try to keep your eating habits in line with how you ate in your previous country and slowly ween from that if you’re trying to change your eating habits. 

Gaining the ‘expat 15’ is inevitable otherwise.  (In my case…it was an expat 30!)  I actually thought I’d lose weight moving here because Norwegians are more active than Americans.  Well… I was very wrong.

4.  You’re going to have mental breakdowns. The amount of these may vary from person to person… but they will happen.  Norway is not as friendly, has horrible customer service, and the weather leaves something to be desired.  BUT… while others may find take it personally, try to be the one who just chalks it up to being cultural and geographical differences.  These things are normal for them.

Doesn’t make it wrong, doesn’t make it right (even though I think customer service skills should be good no matter where you’re at), just makes it different.  I’ve had my fair share of mental breakdowns here and when I look back on them, most of them are because I take things too personal when I don’t feel as accomplished here as I wished I had at this point of living here.

To settle these I usually do something that makes me happy, like hiking.  Hiking and living in Norway always reminds me of how beautiful it is and how me crying over someone bumping into me without saying ‘excuse me’ is kind of petty.

Hiking in Bergen, Norway

5.  You will learn to be a sun goddess (or god).  Sun can be a rare event, but when it comes out, the parks are filled with people grilling out, playing frisbee or other games, and just enjoying the warmth and light while eating some of those delicious strawberries.  I never thought I’d become one of these people. 

But I have.  And I laugh when Norwegians say things like “How can one not love Norway when they look at the parks filled with people on a sunny day?!”.  Quite frankly, we can do that almost every day where I’m from.  But because you can’t in Norway… it makes it that much more special.

Sun gods and goddesses in Bergen, Norway

6.  Being a native English speaker can be your best friend…or your worst enemy.  Most all TV (or all TV worth watching) is American.  All movies with the exception of cartoons… are in English.  All Norwegians… know how to speak flawless English.  So while you’ll be able to get your fill of American TV, English can also be the demise of your ability to learn Norwegian.  Only if you let it, though.

When you order or speak to someone in Norwegian at a store or restaurant, they will probably answer in English.  CONTINUE speaking Norwegian. 

I sometimes just pretend like I can’t speak English, so they are forced to speak to me in Norwegian.  And then other times, usually while wearing a Penn State football t-shirt and hearing my very obvious American ‘r’s, I just give up and laugh and speak English back because it’s quite evident they know I’m a native English speaker.

7.  You will learn to relax.  I know the word ‘relax’ is a foreign concept for Americans.  In fact, it was a word that was only in my vocabulary when I listened to 80s songs titled ‘Relax’.  But I never knew what it was. 

In Norway, after your first trip to a ‘hytte’, or cabin, you will know this word (and the word ‘boredom’) all too well.  While it may seem like a torturous event at the time…afterward you may be longing for a trip back to a place with such peace and tranquility.

There are many things to know before moving to Norway, but here are 7 that you will only learn after you arrive and spend some time in the country.

If there is anything you’d like to share about what you’ve learned after moving to Norway, or just abroad in general… please feel free to share in the comments! 

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Comments (44)

You will learn the value of good American food, and never take it for granted again!

you have no idea. im already plotting how much mexican food im going to eat when im back in the states in a few weeks!

My boyfriend is a Norwegian native, and is going back because his schooling here is over. He actually got accepted into a Danish grad school, I’ve been making plans on moving there…somehow. It’s been frustrating how difficult it is to find the right kind of permit/visa to stay with him while he’s in school. I’m excited to move to a different country but I’m so nervous :( Your blog really brings the reality of an American moving to Scandinavia and it makes me more nervous! Pray things will go alright. I like reading your blog however, it’s the closest situation to mine I’ve encountered so far :)

thanks girl :) im excited to stay in touch with you and see how things go! dont be nervous…well be a little nervous but know it will be alright :) its a huge life changing experience but one most people dont get, so take advantage of it!!! :)

This is very interesting! I would love to go someday.

you definitely should :)

Good advice and I love the part about ‘Negative Nancies’, I think that applies anywhere.Rx
http://sandersonsmithstory.blogspot.co.uk/

they can certainly act as a plague when youre somewhere!

That photo of everyone lying out in the park is so funny! I also definitely learned the “watch what you eat lesson” in South Africa. During my first 6 months I gained almost 20 pounds I think and then spent the next year and a half losing it again! The food here is just too good!

xxx
Jenna

i still havent lost my expat lbs. haha!!!! soon i will…(i hope!)

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