If you have been in Norway, you probably have the impression that this is a terrific country! Words like “marvellous”, “amazing” and “astounding” pops up in your head as you see the incredible landscape, or as you taste the great food. The people are nice, and it is easy to feel at home here. But what is really going on under the surface? Is Norway really the great country, as it appears to be?
I am Jill McGraw. I came to Norway three years ago, to study landscaping. Over the years I have developed a sense of superficiality among the people of Norway. What looks like a perfect country, is now revealing it self to me, by showing it’s darker side. I have searched high and low to find out exactly what is wrong, and to find out what Norwegians really should be described as.
”It is typical Norwegian to be good”, says Gro Harlem Brundtland, a central Norwegian politician, during the Olympic games in 1994. Is it really? Or was it all just a lie? Every Norwegian was very proud after this statement, to say the least, and they probably still are. But what have they actually done to earn this label? All the Norwegian people reading this would probably like to answer that. Let me put it like this; first person to answer my question gets an award! Even more Norwegians would assumedly like to answer now, right? So let me be honest here. Norwegians are a bit covetous. I mean, they complain about absolutely everything from gas money to expensive alcohol. As if the world did not have bigger issues to consume their minds with! This is despite the fact that we are talking about the wealthiest country in the world. So if your grey brain cells function as well as they should, it will not be difficult to understand just how wealthy this country is. They pump up several tons of black gold from their part of the continental base, right? That is where the big money lies, and not with the average Joe, or Ola Nordmann, as the Norwegian like to call him. He can’t do anything else but accept his share of this mind-blowing goldmine.
Norway is not one of the world’s best countries to live in. It is THE best! That is the result of the Human Development Index who ranked them as number one on the list. The HDI informs about quality of life and development that refers to income, education and duration of life. Despite the fact that every Norwegian is fully aware of this, they are constantly surprised when they hear this information. That shows the average Norwegian’s true colours. He is spoiled and pampered. They were not born with skis on their feet. No, they were born with goldilocks in their ass, and the wonderful ability to pour money down the drain. I guess you can say the Norwegians are insanely good. Good to think that they are good!
But are Norwegians really typical Norwegian? Even if they still go skiing in the mountains, with oranges in their backpacks, or take trips deep in to the woods to live in a cottage with nothing more than an outside toilet, the Norwegian culture has changed drastically. They have taken frequently used words and replaced them with American language like “shopping” and “shaving”. Even the spelling control on my Norwegian computer accepts these words. American culture has truly affected them, but not only their language. Halloween and Valentine’s Day are “holidays” many young Norwegians celebrate. These are also elements of the Americanising of Norway. They even replaced their meatballs and brown sauce with hamburgers from Burger King, and gained an average of 7 kg over the last fifteen years.
In foreign countries, Norwegians are viewed as pompous, odd rich people, with empty promises that evolve around world peace and end of poverty. Well, Norwegians are very occupied by immigration. And who minds immigrants, right? I mean, they put on innumerable charity shows and raise a lot of money. Many Norwegians are sponsors to poor families, while others give money to the collectors that go door to door. But when the same people come to their country to try to live a better life, they immediately turn their back. Some get considered as criminals, others get called racist names the minute they step over the borderline. Norway is just a wolf in a lamb’s clothing. Or maybe the Norwegians are?
Norwegians are extremely occupied by the enchanting excitement of sport. But not all genres are equally appealing. Basketball, bandy, hockey etc are not interesting to them at an international level. They have a funny aptitude of adjusting their focus on the genres they are most lightly to succeed in. Who can for example name a well-known bandy player from Norway? Bjørn Dæhlie, Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Marit Bjørgen and Kjetil Andre Aamodt are Norwegians they know and love. They are all wonderful examples of successful Norwegians. What they have in common is that they are athletes in “the Norwegian area” within sports. These are cross-country skiing and slalom, just to name a few. Norwegians are obsessed with winter sport, especially the Olympic games and the word cup. So when Norway’s representatives failed to succeed in the 2006 Olympic games in Torino, they refused to admit defeat. They are not any less good because of this. Let’s just go on and blame illness and bad luck, shall we?
Even if Norway fail in doing something they should be experts in, it is still typical Norwegian to be good. But despite Gro Harlem Brundtland´s narrow-minded enunciation, the Norwegian culture shows signs of something they like to call “Janteloven”. -You shall not think you are any good, is just one of them. The fact that a Norwegian man is divested his capability to brag about an accomplishment without forty thousand others contradicting him, proves this. It is like this in Norway. My conclusion is that the average Norwegian is a spoiled, norwenglish-speaking person. He is a bit overweight and extremely confiding to his country. Not the typical good Norwegian you were expecting maybe, but I, as an outsider, see these people every day. And I am constantly surprised. Life around us has changed, at least here in Norway. The society has become more and more modern. Luckily they manage to hold on to their old traditions, and keep up with the new trends of the world at the same time. That is what makes the good, in the “It is typical Norwegian to be good” statement!