I was actually typing up a different blog post when I realized that this weekend marks our three-month anniversary in Oslo. So while I do look forward to posting about some toddler-friendly day trips from Prague soon, I thought now would be a good time to share some of my thoughts on Norway three months in.
1. They are obsessed with summer. I suppose that this shouldn’t come as a surprise given that it is cold 8+ months out of the year and Oslo can get real snow as late as May, but the Norwegians have a unique affinity for summer. “Summer food” (“sommermat”) made sense to me since there is more variety and better flavors during this time of year than any other. But “summer coffee”? Yup. And we aren’t just talking about iced coffee. There are actually special coffee blends for summer. I suspect they are lighter and fruitier to go along with the season, but Having never actually tried it, I’m not sure. But all of June I laughed as I walked past Kaffebrenneriet each day and saw its sandwich board announcing sommerkaffe’s arrival.
2. It’s not that expensive. Just kidding. It is expensive. But if you go in, like I did, thinking that everything will cost at least 150% of what it would back home, you will be pleasantly surprised when the average price increase is only about 20%. As long as you stay away from the dry cleaner, the prices probably won’t make you faint. (My #1 piece of advice for anyone considering moving to Norway: Don’t bring anything that is dry clean only with you. You’ll save a lot of money if you just buy new clothes.)
3. They aren’t that environmentally conscious. I’m sure some people will disagree with me and I will admit that there is evidence to support both sides of this issue, but I have to include it since it was the thing that surprised me the most when we first moved here. You see, on our taxi ride from the airport I kept thinking about how much Oslo reminded me of Seattle. Specifically, it is extremely green and I knew that people here love outdoor activities. So I assumed that that meant that it would be easy to find eco-friendly diapers, cleaning supplies, and dry cleaner. Yeah, not so much. Apparently people think that since waste is incinerated here chemicals in diapers don’t matter (can someone please explain this logic to me???), you can find some green cleaning products but don’t expect to make your own because baking soda is one of those things that is much more than 20% more expensive here than in the U.S., and forget a nontoxic dry cleaner. As the woman at the health food store said when I asked her where I could find the latter, “Norway is pretty behind the times when it comes to stuff like that.”
Photo Credit: Beatrix Boros / Stocksy.com (Go Green moss on pink wall)
Now it’s your turn. What would surprise a newcomer about your city?