Photo: Ivar Husevåg Døskeland

1. You’ll have to learn how to ski the second you walk off the plane.

You’re not Norwegian if you don’t know how to ski. This is a nation that perfected skiing, and they sure as hell are proud of it. As soon you show signs of walking as a child, you’re sent outside with a pair of cross-country skis to begin the process.

If you don’t know how to ski when you land in Norway, you’ll immediately be sent out to one of the famous ski resorts — Beitostølen, Geilo, or Hemsedal — and forced to learn how to ski until it hurts.

2. You’ll start wearing one of those Norwegian sweaters.

They are massive, thick, itchy, woolly, and mostly come in one of the characteristically Norwegian colors (blue, red, or white). They have quirky patterns and look like something your great grandfather may have worn back in the day.

After spending a month or so in Nordic weather, you start to see why you need one to survive and somehow convince yourself that they suit your style. Plus, now you’re one step closer to fitting in with the otherwise fashionable Norwegians.

3. You’ll cherish the sun.

The sun rarely gives a wave to Norway, but when it does it feels like everyone is burning to go outside. It might be 5° Celsius, but as long as the sun is out you’re sure to be found outside with your Norwegian friends at Akerbrigge (enjoying a beer in the sun).

If it’s slightly warmer, you’ll slowly start to realize that it’s not that weird to be in your bathers around the public parks of Slottsparken and Frognerparken with all the other Norwegians… well no, that’s still fucking weird.

4. You’ll learn to pay WAY too much for everything.

Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world, and at the beginning you’ll feel like booking the next flight out of there. But after a while, you’ll find that it’s perfectly normal to pay $20 for a pint of beer, $10 for a loaf of bread, and $8 for a cup of coffee. On top of that, you may also want to watch out for those nasty tax rates averaging about 40% of your pay — they’ll definitely bite.

On a slightly positive note, not everything is exorbitantly expensive. For one, Norway’s social system is one of the best in the world, and includes free education and healthcare. Also, thanks to all that oil, Norway’s one of the richest countries in the world. So long as you have a job in the country, you’ll be fine no matter how big your tax rate is.

5. You’ll somehow learn to like fish soup.

Sounds really appealing hey? Don’t worry, I felt the same way when my girlfriend’s father invited me for some of their Fiskesuppe. Surprisingly, this rich, creamy soup, filled with vegetables and generally two kinds of fish (salmon and torsk), is a yummy, warm, filling treat. A beer and some Fiskesuppe will become a favorite delicacy, and can be found anywhere in the country.

6. You’ll have to drink cocoa, and eat kvikklunsj when it’s cold out.

Kvikk Lunsj, or “quick Lunch,” as it sounds to the English-speaking native, is Norway’s version of a KitKat (but not). At first, you’ll fight every Norwegian, arguing that it’s a terrible knock off of the original candy. But then, once you find yourself blindfolded with both a KitKat and Kvikk Lunsi to prove that “KitKats are better,” you’ll embarrassingly pick the Norwegian version.

These candies are a must for any Norwegian cabin trip, along with a hot cup of cocoa.

7. Pre-drinks will become VERY important before heading out.

You don’t head out for a night of revelry without a heavy session of pre-drinks, usually involving at least 4 mates round your apartment and a bottle of vodka, tequila, 4 cans of Red Bull, and no less than 12 beers for a bargain price of $240.00.

But us foreigners — who are still trying to grasp the concept of this ‘slightly’ pricey country — have to drink a shit ton more before going out. Otherwise, we’d go broke after buying more than two beers and end up with a rather disappointingly sober night.

8. You’ll become fascinated by Norway’s crazy rite of passage for high school graduates.

Russ is the rite of passage for high school graduates. Celebrated before the end-of-year exams (from the end of April until the 17th of May — Norway’s Constitution Day), students dress up in colored pants (mainly red), decorate a bus, and party on the decorated bus every night for three weeks. They get super drunk and have sex challenges BEFORE the end of year exams.

For non-students, if you’re drunk enough, you’ll find yourself partying on one of these buses as well. Good luck.

9. You’ll learn the exact times when alcohol can be purchased.

Alcohol, as you soon learn while living in Norway, is monopolized. This sort of sucks, as it means that it can only purchased at certain hours on certain days: Monday to Friday 8 am to 6 pm, Saturday 8 am to 3 pm, and on Sunday the shops are closed. Those hours become morphed into your brain like clockwork. Just make sure that you stock up on Saturday afternoon, otherwise the Sunday BBQ you’re hosting could become pretty dry.

10. You’ll give up on ever learning Norwegian.

Because:

  • Everyone speaks English, and
  • Trying to pronounce Ø, Æ, or Å as a foreigner makes you sound like a deranged sea lion playing a broken tuba

However, the one word that you will have to master (I still haven’t) is skål, or cheers!

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