Some Things I Love About Norway and Miss About the USA…
This is my final blog before our flight in 21 hours, and we’ve barely had the time or energy to do anything this month in terms of writing, it’s been about living.
My wife beautifully wrote a passionate piece on “Horses-To the East and North” that touched on the gravity of that week. Because of the gun control fears I had one thing I couldn’t get off my mind and it was sensational, social media spin and false regurgitations of truth, so I tried to take an angle neither pro gun or against. Really just expressing what I feared more than the guns themselves, which was societies reactions. (This Isn’t a Blog About Gun Control, but About What Really Scares Me the Most…”
This journey for Sunniva and I has been anything but predictable. I have several blogs a few thousand words deep I just could not find time to finish “12 most influential people of the year” and her “Year in Photos” that I hope she finishes when we get to the islands.
I hit the one year mark of no TV over a month ago and wanted to go back and share some of the documented changes that process had on me, among many others…but ya know, life gets in the way when it should and day by day, hour by hour, we kept trudging on.
You’ll see a great deal of cohesive blogging when we are finally settled on the other side, more so on our Solgave Animal Solutions page (or as much) that tie to community happenings, industry news, nutrition information, differences in ideologies of pets in Norway and US and why we want to bring some of that to the US, promotions, etc.
But today…it’s a simpler blog. (Crowd cheers)
WHAT I LOVE THE MOST ABOUT NORWAY-
When I enter a new culture I initially become a deep observer. The subtle nuances are the ones most fascinating to me. How quiet people are in grocery stores, streets where you sit outside of café’s, shops, etc. We Americans are loud…LOL..Just face it, we are.
I love the forward thinking action of recycling. It isn’t in my opinion that many care more than most Americans (yes some do, but as a broad swab I lean to no). But I think what has happened is through conscious shifts due to the way the processes were established, you just grow up recycling everything. Sweden is the best in the world I think in ranking there and I’m sure Norway is up there near the top. You see people recycle everything, and making a special trip to the recycle center is necessary because if you didn’t your allocated trash would not fit in its spot. Seems simple, but I like that forced effort a bit into making you get in the habit of always recycling. We know our planet is hurting, we know recycling is important, and in the states we need it to become a broader part of our consciousness. Every grocery store here has places to put your plastic bottles, and cans in nice clean machines that give you a bit of money back. I lived in a city where recycling early in the game for US (but late compared to this part of the world) but I still see so much more room to improve.
I love, love, love the sweet cheese they have here. It is the most amazing thing on the planet, and I’ll be dying to have a relative bring a big block each time they visit us.
The orange/brown cheese I’m speaking of is goat cheese and something I never would have thought to like but on top of Norwegian waffles (very different than ours, much healthier, flatter, but oh so good) with a bit of Norwegian jam (and yes Norwegian jam is much better than Swedish jam)
I think the cheese slicer we use was invented here (So Sunniva says) , but dairy is very big here in general and the cheeses are outstanding. You always carve as you go, and get spoiled by the good quality. Yogurt is used a lot and I found a new appreciation for granola in yogurt or fresh berries.
We live on the border so it’s interesting how you drive to one side or the other depending on what you get. Bread is a staple here that is some of the best in the world and relatively cheap. We always drive to Norway for bread or get 3 loaves when we are there to pick something else up. They have the slicers there by the big section of loaves and I mean it’s a huge section and always fresh and changing. You toss it in the machine, it comes out sliced in 5 seconds, bag it back up and move on.
I love their morning routine with “brødskive”. It’s taught me to think of sandwiches forever different. I’ll only use one slice of bread on the bottom from here on out. My personal favorite and a typical one (and you’ll see it at all breakfast buffets in hotels in this part of Europe because it’s what everyone has at home and is natural) is to put either butter or mustard on bottom (if anything) and then a slice of white cheese, salami, tomato, cucumber, avocado, and maybe some red pepper slices with fresh sea salt and a bit of pepper. Yummm!
You normally bring out a tray with cucumber, tomatoes, the cheeses you have, other native spreads they use here that we don’t see in the states, sometimes some baby spinach leaves, and some really good stuff. I can’t stress enough, many eating habits will follow us to US.
When working though, like I did at the glass shop and painting a house when I could, you grab a loaf of bread and get a package of 15kr ham and are in heaven. It was interesting to experience the break room atmosphere in one place I worked a few days and even though I did not know the words, you get all the understanding you need. Very cool experience for me.
I’ll miss these little things dearly and we will absolutely make brødskive a part of our breakfast routine at home. I just have to figure out where and how to find that quality bread. Sunniva is a good baker, and I suspect like our pizza crust and hamburger buns we hope to continue making our own breads, and cakes from scratch.
I loved being able to leave from our farm house here and hit the coastal trail system and see some of the most gorgeous views in the world. Blessed to see a few sunrises from the lookout point near our house and do extensive hiking in the area.
I also love the fish of course. The salmon here is some of the best in the world!
Loved the summer experience where the temperatures were very mild for what I’m used to but because of heavy rains and cooler temps the grass stays green and thick all summer. On the rare days when it’s warm enough for summer shorts and a shirt you’ll see all Norwegians find a porch or deck and have tea, waffles, and gather for good conversation. I loved seeing this on some of my runs in different neighborhoods where I could observe without being too obvious as the observer.
I’ll miss crossing this bridge every day and seeing this view as we hit the Norway/Sweden border which is not far from the farm.
I find it fascinating how there are really no road signs and really very few accidents. People here have learned through generations to use common sense. They have to pay a huge fee to get a license, go through a long series of testing which doesn’t even happen till 18, a zero tolerance for driving with ANY ALCOHOL in system, which keeps people off roads drinking, and driving and just having good sense when driving.
These are things I just see working really well in what is known as one of the most balanced societies in the world. The system in place is a good one, the people are good people, and I think before any of my American friends judge a welfare state, Socialist country I wish you’d visit with my wife and spend a year here yourself to see what you think after 4 full seasons. It doesn’t mean you won’t want to go home, but I think your perspective would be as changed as a Norwegian who was skeptical if they lived a year in the US (granted like anywhere in the world where you live within those places also has a great deal to do with it)
I find it interesting that neighbors really keep to themselves. Norwegians are very loyal to their families, and as I typed in another blog a bit tough to get through to versus Americans, which was probably, may greatest challenge but when you do, they are endearing and interesting folks. It’s a part of the world I will recommend all my American friends come and see.
Now, WHAT DID I MISS ABOUT THE USA?
A lot. I left with a bit of angst that only one year away could cure. I was tired of red and blue. I was tired of fear driven energies. I was tired of the bible belt and views that didn’t click. I was just seeing the worst of what was around me because I needed a perspective shift and boy did I get it.
It was the night of the election that it really struck me how much I had changed and what patriotism meant to me almost a year removed from the US On the Eve of the Election Some Thoughts on the US and Norwegian Culture and my Family’s Future
The US is the land of extremes and nobody can deny that. Wealth. Poverty. Happiness. Sadness. Health. Sickness. We have it all, and it’s important to see that those extremes don’t have to be as extreme. The different ideologies on how to get the middle back vary widely based on political views but I certainly see with my own eyes now what a society with very little gap between the high and low does to a society. Solgave as a philosophy is about healing, understanding relationships, and connecting people back to the Earth through a variety of ways. For this reason the US and that unbalanced nature offers a great deal of opportunity for us.
With that said, I love the push in the US (at least from the only angle I can write about, my own) to become somebody! If you want to be in a movie, dance, or start a business every state is eager to help you do that. Arkansas is where I have the most ties and understanding and they are hoping to become a Middle America Tech bubble and many leaders think they are on their way.
I come from a family who all run their own business or are happy and successful in their own right. For me, running your own small business is in the blood and just what I was kind of groomed to do. I love how easy it is in the US to have an idea, start it, and feel enormous support. The yin/yang I see to what they call Law of Jante to Norwegians not ever feeling above or special is that if you have a real star talent you perhaps don’t always get to fully realize that potential because of being told you are just like everyone else. Philosophically this is great for a utopian kind of society, but what I see it hurts is the real dreamers who ARE STARS in their own right and struggle against the current of ideologies they are born with culturally.
They are investing in ideas in Norway and Sweden too, I don’t mean to imply that. They are investing in people deeply in the area I am from which is a fast booming part of the US, yet still small and safe enough to feel quaint. The American dream is still alive, and Sunniva will share interesting perspectives about how Europeans see the US I think as time time goes by. It isn’t all-bad at all, in fact most agree it’s the US that can and needs to turn the ship around to help global problems. Not in an arrogant way, but a humble way. The rest of the world I’m realizing believes in us, but they don’t like to see arrogance and believe it can be what it was 50 years ago. If they believe in us, I damn sure hope any Americans reading this quit complaining and just live out your own dream..whatever that is.
Getting a bit too philosophical and political there so back to some simple things I miss.
I miss the American smile from stranger. I miss the American hug. I miss deep community driven towns where you make the new person, the new business feel special. I miss seeing how people take after each other in ways they think the government can’t and rally around anyone that needs help.
I miss a smoothie from Smoothie King.
I miss a 5$ foot long sub.
I miss milder temperatures so I can enjoy my time outdoors more. I miss game nights with my friend. I miss Razorback football!
I miss a road trip in the summer to see Dave Matthews (we may miss this summer with baby but Sunniva and I both believe the baby does not have to change your loves, you can be responsible and still see music shows outdoors)
I miss the Farmers Market every weekend where you get to have coffee, hear music on the corner, buy all your organic products, and see interesting vendors and people along the way.
I miss clothes and food prices and GAS PRICES that will seem oh so cheap to us.
I miss rivers. I love the fjords here, but in the Ozark Mountains you gotta love riding a mountain bike along some of the most beautiful mountains and creeks in the country.
I’m only one year into having a Norwegian perspective but it’ll grow for years to come. My wife still speaks to Gabi in Norwegian a lot and will speak to our baby in Norwegian. I’ll continue to slowly pick it up and now have her stop to translate every line because I like to feel part of the unit and you can imagine being a new step dad/father and not knowing words said to your children. Eerie feeling.
I will be glad to always know what’s said around me. You take your language for granted and I wrote out reasons why we pushed language back a bit in earlier blogs so I don’t have to go over that again. …Trust it’ll be good in the future.
Sunniva and I want to be able to talk Norwegian in any social awkward places in the US and that alone is a great drive to take my language skills up a notch.
Yes, I love a lot about both Norway and the US. Until you’ve spent a year living in one of them I think you are hard pressed to judge, because vacation time is very different than seeing 4 seasons pass in its entirety.
We are opening up a new chapter in the middle of the night tonight as we leave and have a lot of question marks, ideas, and things to consider and for the first time in my life I have a tenacious hunger to create and a long term drive to know the ship only sails in one direction…and also a willingness to listen to my wife’s instincts on what path feels best for us.
I won’t take this blog another direction. It’s a bit of homage to both countries, and a bit of me being able to pound out 2600 words while they still sleep and get my final blog up before leaving.
Mad love for both Norway and the US, and I certainly hope this international family can blend the best of both worlds in the future.