After many years of visiting I feel like I hold some sort of reputability when giving my views on Norwegian life. For those of you that know me personally, you will already know that my girlfriend is Norwegian, we have been together for over six years (since we were 15/16) and I have been visiting Norway multiple times a year since 2011.
Over the years I have noticed a significant difference between life in Norway compared to the UK, so I thought I would share my knowledge and experiences by sharing some key points that are heavily integrated into the Norwegian way of living that we could all practice a little more.
Familie – Family
If there was one thing that I have learnt most about the Norwegian way of life is that being family orientated is very important. Although most people in the UK have a close family unit, the emphasis on this in Norway is very special, from birthday parties with 50+ relatives to three generations taking a holiday together, the sense of enjoying time around relatives is obvious.
Personally I came from another country into a family that welcomed me with open arms and have made me feel like a family member ever since – part of the reason i’m always visiting my ‘second home’.
At times like Christmas (Jul) or Norway’s National Day (17th of May) is when you start to really understand the importance of family in Norway. Cousins, uncles, grandparents and siblings are all together as one family unit, this family togetherness should be spread more and be recognised not just at special occasions but at all times.
God mat – Good food
Another massive part of the Norwegian lifestyle is the readily available ‘good food’ especially when visiting people. Baking is a huge part of their culture and even I have been accustomed to baking a skillingsbolle (cinnamon bun) or two during my visits.
Growing up I made a few rice crispy cakes and the occasional chilli con carne, but it seems that cooking and baking is an innate tradition that streams through the blood of a Norwegian. From mouth watering baked goods, homemade pizzas and Mexican dishes as treats on the weekend to traditional Norwegian delicacies such as Pinnekjøtt, Fårikål and Lapskaus. I swear every time I visit I gain at least a couple of KGs on the scale due to my inability to resist the tasty food on offer.
Trening – Training
Another large part of most Norwegian lives, is staying fit and healthy, despite the amazing food mentioned above, they manage to maintain an active lifestyle. Age is just a number and this has never been more true in Norway, children are involved in sports such as football and handball from a young age, many young adults are big Crossfit advocates, not to mention their unrivalled success in winter sports like skiing. Even the older generation are active and are out in the wilderness hiking at least once a week.
I’ve always been relatively active with playing football and then basketball when I was younger, these days I spend most of my active time in the gym but when I visit Norway I usually get a quick kick-up-the-arse when i’m climbing up a mountain at a vertical angle falling behind Norwegians who are over twice my age!
Some people definitely could do more and are always looking for some new motivation to get healthier and be more active, inspiration isn’t hard to come by when taking a look at Norway.
Apply these three values into your everyday life and you will feel much more satisfied. The connected togetherness of family, the satiating plethora of good food mixed in with some mood lifting physical activity to burn off the extra calories from said good food all combine to make one happy Norwegian… replica.
Give it a try, you’ll be glad you did.