How to survive in Norway
It’s the economy, stupid!
Norway has vast oil- and gas resources buried in sandstone layers at the bottom of the North Sea. As a result, we are among the richest nations in the World.
Those were the days. Old postcard showing noble men travelling at Folgefonna Glacier, Hardanger, Western Norway, in the late 19th century.
Enjoying the sun on a warm day. Storgata, the main street of Lillehammer. PHOTO: LILLEHAMMER TURIST.
Storgata, Lillehammer, during Christmas time. PHOTO: LILLEHAMMER TURIST.
Chances are your country ranks lower on that list, and Norwegian prices may come as a severe shock.
The cheapest place to buy things is at a supermarket. All other places charge more.
Tipping is optional, and VAT is included in all bills.
All major credit cards are accepted, and some places (i.e. hotels) will only reluctantly accept payment in cash.
Learning Norwegian? Forget about it!
Norway has three official languages, all quite exotic. Fortunately for you, most Norwegians also speak English. Don’t hesitate to make contact, Norwegians are generally friendly, but don’t expect a smile. Living in one of the northernmost countries in the world, much of which lies in darkness for six months of the year, has made us a serious and somewhat shy crowd.
Don’t expect a Norwegian to talk to you first, unless he or she has been drinking.
Be on time
Most things in Norway begin exactly at the time given. Don't be late!
If you receive an invitation of any sort, say "yes" if you want to come and "no, I'm sorry, I've got other plans" if you don't. Never say "yes" to be polite, and then not show up. When you have been told where and when, don't expect a second invitation. You are not required to refuse the first time to be polite.
Drugs and alcohol
Alcohol and tobacco are the only legal drugs. Attempting to bring any other recreational drugs across the border may land you in trouble with the authorities. (That being said, the Norwegian prison system is one of the most humane in the world.)
Alcohol is heavily taxed, which makes drinking in Norway very, very expensive. A drink in a bar may cost as much as 15 USD. Partly because of this, it is not customary to buy rounds.
Drinking in public places is illegal, as is smoking indoors.
Your hotel room will most likely have a mini bar, containing soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. These are possibly the most expensive drinks you will ever be offered! Don’t take anything unless you are prepared to pay for it. The same goes for chocolates and wine bottles in small baskets on your desk. They are not free gifts from the hotel!
On the bright side: You can safely drink the tap water. Bottled water is expensive.
The polite form 'De' (='You') is rarely used any more. The prime minister is referred to by his given name “Jens”. Norwegians don’t address authorities as “Sir” and “Mrs”.
Women’s liberation has come further in Norway than most other places, and women wearing mini skirts are not necessarily prostitutes. (Some may be lawyers or government officials.) A woman can do everything that a man can do, going out alone, talking to strangers, having male friends in addition to her husband. A Norwegian woman may look you straight in the eyes and talk to you, without wanting anything else than a chat.
Dress casual. Norwegians will often wear jeans and a sweater for work and meetings, and put on a dress or a suit for parties and formal dinners.
All this taken into consideration, this ain’t that bad of a place.