Hi Scandi readers.

Long time no see. I haven’t been blogging as actively as I want to. Part of the reason is because of my laptop broke down. And I had to figure out what was wrong and repair it myself. Fuck you Windows and your updates. And yeah… What can I say? University and exams.

I’m home in Denmark. I’m having a very long Christmas/new year holiday. I have been living in Norway for 5 months, and I’m surprised how well I have settled in. I really wanted to make a list of things you can expect when living in another country. While reading this, please keep in mind the Danish and Norwegian culture are similar. You can kind of compare it with an American moving to Canada, Australia or an Englishman moving to Ireland. Kind of. The Norwegian and the Danish language aren’t as similar as American English and Australian English.

1: Misunderstandings.

You will experience misunderstandings. Both cultural and language wise. I’m not only thinking about lost in translation or “I’m not sure what you mean” kind of misunderstanding. People from different cultures use language, words and expressions differently.
Let me give you an example, in Denmark it’s normal to swear in informal situations. So many of my Danish friends swear in one way or another. I tend to wear a bit myself. In Norway I sometimes have to explain what different swear words means in different contexts, because Norwegians doesn’t swear that much or in the same way as the Danes. In Norway, shut up (hold kjæft/hold mund) means shut up, but in Danish shut up (hold kæft/hold mund) means a lot of different things depending on context.
I have been lucky that most expression I’m used to in Danish also exist in Norwegian. But I have become more award of slang and false friends.

2: Phases of integration.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then let me make a quick sum up. Every expat/immigrant experiences culture shocks and goes through phases of integration during their stay.
I went through the honeymoon phase really fast. Like it was over within a couple of weeks and I entered the rage phase.

I had troubles getting a doctor’s appointment.  I felt like the Norwegians kept me out of social things and that some of the Norwegians avoided me because they refused to understand Danish. On top of that, Danes and Norwegians sometimes behave differently socially.

So I felt isolated, I was angry at the health care system. I was frustrated because I did and still don’t know how to behave. I couldn’t understand the differences. I knew the cultural differences between the Norwegians and Danes would be bigger than I imagined. But I wasn’t prepared for this.

Now I’m in the adjustment phase. I’m still learning about the differences and try to accept them. I’m trying to adapt a little. But I’m not going to live in Norway permanently, so I don’t want to adapt too much.

3: Feeling alone.

You are going to feel alone. At traditional feasts and national holidays in your home country, at family birthdays and so on.
My way of coping is by asking my family not to mention when birthdays are celebrated, not to mention traditional family feast and so on. I’m very busy when I’m in Norway, so I won’t notice when it’s the 11th of November (St Martin’s day) and I won’t think about my family is going to gather, eat and have fun. The 11th of November will just be a normal day. But if someone reminds me of St. Martin’s day that day will be ruined because of homesickness. And the same goes for birthdays.

4: Food cravings.

One of the things I hate is Danish food cravings. Either the ingredients are too expensive (meat in Norway is really expensive) or I can’t buy the things I need.  That of course means I have a huge list of things I ask my family to buy for me when they visit me. But it’s hard when you feel like having some Danish food and then you can’t have it.

5: It’s my home, at the same time it isn’t.

I still have yet to call Norway my home. It’s somewhere I live and study. The sound of the Norwegian language, the thoughts of the local supermarket, my flat mates, my Norwegian friends does make me feel a little at home. But it’s not really home, because I’m an outsider.

At some point, every immigrant/expat will feel a bit home in the new country. It might be the language, the people you live with or something else that makes you feel at home. You still feel like this place isn’t home because you are an outsider.

6: Weird questions about your home country

Even though my home country is really similar to Norway, I have still been asked weird questions about Denmark. For example Denmark is more liberal than Norway. So I have been ask weird questions like “are brass knuckles legal in Denmark?”.  Why would brass knuckles be legal? It’s weapon.
I have also been asked what I eat for dinner. Like coming from another country means I eat weird things like fairies and unicorn meat. I think most northern Europeans eat the same things for dinner. Like Italian, Mexican, Asian food. Yes there are some differences.  Overall, I think we eat the same things.

I can’t make any promises about when I will write my next post. So until next time.

Your Scandi friend

Published by Amalie Ingvorsen