February - Scandinavia
Today Laura and I met with Lukas, he is a third-year student of Communication Science at the Utwente. The last half year he lived in Stavanger the fourth biggest city in Norway. We asked him some questions about is time in the North and how it is different to living in the Netherlands.
What’s the biggest difference between Norway and the Netherlands?
Norway has a lot of mountains and hills, wherever you look you see mountains. I would say that is the biggest difference, because as all of you know, in the Netherlands everything is very flat. They do share the water though, both countries are surrounded by water. That is also why you better travel to Norway with a ferry.
Did you experience a culture shock?
No, I didn’t. As most countries in Europe, also Norway is “western-oriented”. Some things are different, but most are very similar. I may not have experienced a culture shock, but definitely a “nature shock”. The scenery and nature are very beautiful and unique and like I already mentioned very different to the Netherlands.
Are the people in Norway different?
In contrast to Dutchies who are super open and direct, Norwegian are way more introverted. They like to keep to themselves, and where as people in the Netherlands ask you the most personal questions only a couple of minutes after meeting, Norwegians are “shyer” and it really takes a while to get them to open up. But I was already “warned” about that before I left, and it is stated in nearly every travel guide that people up north are less open.
What did you like the best in Norway?
Definitely the Nature! You are in the city, I mean Stavanger is not huge, but a similar size to Enschede, but within a few minutes you are able to completely leave the city behind and see the beautiful nature. It often doesn’t even feel like you live in the city because landscape around you is so pretty.
What did you like the least?
I think most people already heard, that living in Scandinavia is pretty expensive, but to be honest, it is probably even more expensive than you think. Everything that is supposed. to be fun, for example alcohol, sugar and cigarettes have really high taxes, what makes it so expensive. Also, just food and drinks in comparison to the Netherland sis more expensive, but on the other hand living cost, so rent, is actually comparable with what you pay here. Another thing I didn’t enjoy that much is the travelling within the country, I mean if you already stay in another country for half a year, you would think you could also see something across the country, but because the country is stretched pretty long from North to South, you almost always have to fly to other cities in Norway. But driving from the west coast to the east of the country only takes a few hours.
What is the weirdest thing you ate?
The weirdest traditional Norwegian food I ate, was “brunost” a brown coloured cheese, which tasted like caramel, so sweet cheese, they just put it on the slice of bread. I thought it was pretty weird, and what I heard people either love it or hate, there is no in-between. I also tried “fiskekaker”, it looks similar to a poffertje but is made out of fish. I really didn’t enjoy that one. But in general, is the Norwegian kitchen is very fish oriented, I mean with the sea surrounding them it makes sense.
Can you speak Norwegian now?
I think I am okay at the basics, but I am definitely not fluent. Norwegian is a very melodic language, so for me as a German is it quite difficult to get the hang of it. But it is actually quite easy for me to read, many things are similar to German, they do have some different letter though.
How cold did it get?
Stavanger is in the South of Norway, so there is not a big difference between Netherlands and where is was staying. But I did travel to Tromso, where there was only 4 hours of daylight, and at the North cap it was about -25 degrees., so that was pretty cold.
Do people bike in Norway?
There are little to none bikes in Norway, I literally only saw 4 bikes during my time in Norway and those were Dutch exchange students. There are way to many hills and mountains to enjoy biking, but the public transport is really good, so you have no problems to get to your destination.
Can you party better in the Netherlands or in Norway?
The parties are better in Norway, at least for me. I think the music is better, there are a couple of pretty big DJ’s from Norway, so electro-pop is very popular and A-ha as well . And the Norwegians also get more open when they had a couple of beers and treat you like your best friend.
What is the funniest thing that happened during your stay?
When we were in the North of Norway, the face of one of my friends froze. She was smiling and somehow her mouth froze, and she couldn’t stop smiling even though she was already quite pissed because of her frozen face. Something similar also happened to another friend, but her hair froze and when she touched it, it just broke off. And of course, with all the ice, there were many non- voluntary break-dance sessions, to stop yourself from falling.