I couldn’t think of any grand themes for this blog, so I decided to write an assortment of observations, musings, and unconnected thoughts related to life in Norway, and some changes I have noted since we lived here in 2002.
Norwegians are getting heavier (a bit anyway). In 2002, we saw very few heavy Norwegians and only very rarely saw an extremely large Norwegian. They simply walked too much and ate too well to approach Americanesque sizes. This has changed especially in the younger generation. Maybe it is because of too much pizza, too many McDonald’s restaurants, and not enough walking? I wonder how that will impact the Norwegian health care system when weight-related health problems become more common.
Many, and maybe most, of our friends have original artwork on the walls of their homes. We immediately noticed this when we entered their homes. Not surprisingly, there are more art galleries in Moss (pop. 28K) than in Grand Forks (pop. 60K). Debbie and I bought our first piece of original art in Røros.
Norwegian culture has a concept called ‘friluftsliv.’ This literally means ‘free air life’, or more correctly ‘outdoor life.’ It is a love of being outdoors and living an active life. You see Norwegians walking everywhere. Debbie and I were very proud that we walked from Alby on the island of Jeløy to our apartment in Moss (approx. 3.5 miles) when Emily and her friend Courtney were visiting. We felt ‘veldig norsk’ (very Norwegian).
I believe that people who attend church here are a bit more ecumenical than in the States. Our menigheten (congregation) here has had a joint meeting with a State church, had the local Methodist pastor preach in church, and allowed a woman missionary (from Ireland to Norway with Child Evangelism Fellowship) to preach from the pulpit. I believe they feel as though the differences between the beliefs of different congregations are much, much smaller than the differences between the beliefs of believers (of any orthodox congregation) and non-believers.
The size and quality of primary residences of Norwegians do not vary nearly as much as do primary residences in the United States. Americans tend to buy newer, bigger, and nicer homes in the same city over time. Norwegians are more likely to live in the same home in the same city over time. Instead of buying a larger home, they are more likely to buy a hytte (cottage) as a vacation home, or perhaps a cottage in another country (Spain, Greece, south France), or to simply travel more often.
I do not believe there are nearly as many advokater (lawyers) in Norway as in America. In America, the attitude seems to be that it is the landowner’s responsibility to make sure accidents do not happen on their property. In Norway, the attitude seems to be that it is the person’s responsibility to be careful and not do anything stupid. Imagine that! I include photos of three such ‘Norwegian deathtraps’ that would not be allowed in the U.S.