norway-rules

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When you have two sons and one of them is called Haakon the Good and the other is Eric Bloodaxe, you do not leave the kingdom to the second guy. Seriously, Harald, this shouldn’t be hard.

Juuuuust.....keep your mouth shut...she'll figure it out.

I mentioned last week that a Norwegian would not easily point out if you made an error, even if you just stomped through every social rule with huge muddy boots. With ice spikes underneath them.

It is one of my main pet peeves when it comes to daily life. The Dutch are priding themselves on that ‘we say how it is’. Now, that is in a lot of situations a huge exaggeration, but we will tell a colleague that that shirt is not flattering, your boyfriend that he really needs to redo that presentation, because it makes zero sense, and the foreign neighbour that it will be appreciated if he mows his lawn.

As long it’s meant friendly, only the really sensitive ones will take offense. If you take offense, well, that is kinda your problem. I know, for the not-Dutch that is exactly the kind of attitude that is hard to tackle, but now I have ended up at the total opposite and it is driving me bonkers.

I’m not living in Norway with the believe that my way is the correct way (although writing these pieces might suggest otherwise, trust me, it’s meant as good fun only), but in a lot of cases, you simply don’t know better/otherwise. I have always been very clear that I wanted people to tell me, correct me, point out to me, because I need to learn. I’m not raised by the wolves, and I want to act my best.

The Norwegian will declare that ‘absolutely, no problem, we will’. In reality….well….even my husband will silently let me blunder though life without even a polite cough to get my attention. On my frustrated “but why aren’t you guys telling/correcting/beating me to death?” the answers will usually be something like:

It’s just so funny (mainly language related)
I didn’t think it is such a big deal
It doesn’t matter, you are Dutch anyway
I didn’t think you like to get told so often that you are doing wrong

Earlier this week, in my painting class, we talked about the similarities between Norway and Netherlands, and I explained that that was exactly so dangerous. I mentioned my first experience with forgetting to take off my shoes, and then I got a response that made my mouth drop open.

“It was really rude if they would have said something. You would have figured it out eventually.”

EVENTUALLY? For God’s sake people. Yeah, no, that would have been a fine situation. Eventual death by shame.

Funny enough, it works also the other way. I have lost quite a bit of weight in a period, and in Netherlands, even people who only knew me remotely would have stopped to compliment me. Here, not a peep, which made me, well….a bit frustrated. I wanted to hear from somebody I was looking nice. I went to Netherlands, and my parents who picked me up from the airport, nearly fake fainted when they spotted me. Back in Norway, I asked straight out, why nobody had said anything. After a lot of scuffling around, I suddenly realized it.

“You didn’t say anything, because then you would have suggested I would have been fat before?!”

Relieved faces around. I got it!

“But for fucks sake people. I WAS fat!”

Still no good Norwegian award for me….