When I first got this assignment from the teacher, I thought of all the obvious answers.
What is typically Norwegian? I asked some people on-line and the very first answers I got were fjords, snow, skiing, ice-bears(!) and so on. But all these are classic examples when people are talking about Norway. I thought there must be something else than ’just’ nature that is typically Norwegian.
Norway is a very rich country, and many Norwegians like to concider their country as a very important one in peace/war-issues and world-politics, that if it wasn’t for Norway’s efforts, the world would collapse very soon.. Well this is a very patriotic thought, but maybe a little misleading. Norway wouldn’t be the country it is today without its rich oil-resources. This makes people in Norway narrow-minded and some get the feeling of superiority and they think they are better than other people.
A reporter once interviewed a number of people in the big cities in Norway and asked them what they thought foreigners thought were the lamest thing about Norwegian behaviour in general, and most of them answered ”the jante behaviour”. ”Jante-loven” or ”The law of Jante” is a Norwegian poem:
1.Du skal ikke tro at du *er* noe.
Thou shalt not presume that thou art anyone [important].
2.Du skal ikke tro at du er like saa meget som *oss*.
Thou shalt not presume that thou art as good as us.
3.Du skal ikke tro at du er klokere en *oss*.
Thou shalt not presume that thou art any wiser than us.
4.Du skal ikke innbille deg du er bedre enn *oss*.
Thou shalt never indulge in the conceit of imagining that thou art better than us.
5.Du skal ikke tro du vet mere enn *oss*.
Thou shalt not presume that thou art more knowledgeable than us.
6.Du skal ikke tro du er mere enn *oss*.
Thou shalt not presume that thou art more than us [in any way].
7.Du skal ikke tro at *du* duger til noe.
Thou shalt not presume that that thou art going to amount to anything.
8. Du skal ikke le av *oss*.
Thou art not entitled to laugh at us.
9. Du skal ikke tro at noen bryr seg om *deg*.
Thou shalt never imagine that anyone cares about thee.
10. Du skal ikke tro at du kan lære *oss* noe.
Thou shalt not suppose that thou can teach us anything
This is a very normal way for foreigners to see Norwegians. So for some people this filosophy rules in Norway.
The sense of individuality and that ”we can manage ourselves”-mentality is almost as strong as in the USA. This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons Norway is not member of the European Union (EU).
You might think I am stigmatizing Norwegians with all this, but in fact there is good in these cold humans; Norwegians are hard-working people with a good sense for design, new ideas and originality. Norway produce great musicians and they really DO play an important role in world-politics (the middle-east issue and Nobel’s price).
Norwegians are happy givers. They give a lot of money to charity and to peace-organizations. The Norwegian government also gives billions of kroner every year to poor countries.
Many Norwegians pick on Americans and their way of life. ”Americans are so dumb.. Americans sucks.. Americans have no personality..” In fact; If it wasn’t for America’s efforts in WWII, Norway would’ve been a communist country. Thanks to America Norway has a democratic, monarchistic government. Norwegians love their king and queen and wouldn’t trade them for a president in a long time.
Norwegians also pick on Swedes. It is normal for Norwegians to make fun of Swedes and make jokes about how dumb they are. This is a very old tradition from ages ago, when Norway was owned by Sweden. In the last couple of years Norwegian humor has become very weird and lines are getting crossed very often. Actors and stand-up comedians are constantly getting harsh words from the older generations of Norwegians. Old Norwegians are often very conservative and strict.
I believe that some reasons Norwegians may seem cold and a bit reserved is because of the weather they have over there. It’s cold and people stay inside a lot. Also in the old days there were long distances between cities and towns and people didn’t see eachother much besides their own family. This made them a little sceptic to other folks. The nearest thing they came to racism were talking dirt about people in the neighbour town.
Norwegians have been aware of this problem for some time now, and they try to fix this image by being very helpfull and travel a lot. Also technology has helped Norwegians to travel from place to place, see new people, get used to other cultures.
Still, there is some work to do.