6 adjustments of living in Norway

1. Military time. Checking the time shouldn’t involve math but living on the 24-hour-clock has me constantly trying to decipher code. It’s as if Attila the Hun has been reincarnated to keep me on schedule in case he decides to give conquering Constantinople another try. According to my oven clock we don’t have dinner at 7pm but rather at 19:00. My son goes to sleep at 20:15 and he issues a Drill Command at 07:30 that it’s time for breakfast.

plugs2. Plugs. I have electronics from the US, UK and Norway, and all three countries have different plugs. I employ a byzantine contraption of four adapters just to recharge my Kindle.

3. The Missing. Awhile back I was on the phone with my 8-year-old nephew who lives in Ohio. When I told him I missed him he very simply said, “so just come back.” I wish it were that simple. We schedule our trips to the US via a carefully honed mathematical equation with the following variables:

  • X= how many days it’s been since I last saw my dad
  • Y= how many more days I can go without playing basketball with my nephews
  • Z= number of days until my flight to the US

There’s also my variation of the mathematician’s “imaginary number” – the number of family dinners, birthdays, movie nights and weddings that I miss, which can’t always be factored into the algebraic equation that gets me home twice a year.

4. Language gap. My son loves Kraft mac ‘n cheese and I love that he loves it because it’s so American. But the kind we buy at Meny, our local grocery store, doesn’t have cooking instructions in English. The back of the box has Finnish, Danish and Norwegian, none of which I’m fluent in. Even the measurements are cryptic: 1 dl of water, 2ss of butter… Google Translate is my guiding light.kroner

5. Understanding currency. In the US a hundred cents makes up a dollar, but here there’s just the kroner. With only one unit to Norwegian currency, along with the fact that the one unit alone has essentially no value because of the high cost of living, I feel like I’m paying for everything in pennies.

6. Starting from scratch. When my husband and I moved to Norway no one knew us and we knew no one. We started from scratch to build a social circle and a professional network. Although we have made some wonderful friends, every once in a while I wish I could run into someone who I have a bit of history with.


24 thoughts on “6 adjustments of living in Norway

  1. True. True. True. True. Especially the Kraft Mac-N-Cheese reference. It’s probably the food I miss most here in Norway. Sometimes my family ships a few boxes to me… just to tide me over. 🙂

    • Oh I know! First you convert from military time to regular and then count up the time difference. It’s funny how, at least in England, people will look at a clock that says 1430 but they will say that it’s 230pm. Doesn’t compute. In Norway people sometimes actually say fourteen-thirty when speaking English but I wonder if that’s because they want to make sure nothing gets lost in translation. When speaking in Norwegian, it still would come out as 230.

  2. Point on darling! As a native Chicagoan, I can relate to all of your points. There is one that has not been made, however obvious. As a midwesterner, the weather took me some time to adjust to. The rain that goes on for weeks () and the bright sun that always seems to be at eye level! I miss the stifling humidity as well.

    No matter the struggles, Norway is now home. And flying home to the US has become sacred time with family. And sacred time at the mall … at least we stand out in a sea of BikBok, VeraModa, and HM 🙂

    P.S. The Kraft Mac and Cheese is something I send a whole case of back here when I visit the US. My husband (Norsk) loves it. Sometimes we mix in meat and veggies (soo taboo back home!). And it is a great gift!!!

  3. I am notoriously terrible at math but can say that over the last seven years, somehow I figured out the whole military time thing. The trick was buying a daily planner with military hours and just looking at it every day until I finally internalized it. I don’t even think about it now which is amazing to me.

    As for the cables, I feel your pain but offer a solution: throw out all the adapters/chargers that don’t work in Norway and just get new ones. You’ll have less cables in your life (always a plus) and when you visit, you can borrow from friends and family. It makes packing easier too.

  4. Reading this blog of yours ,makes me think that no matter how great things are in the country you live in ,it is not home .All of us who left home especially all the family ,struggle with deep craving for all we left behind.If it is any consolation ,all of you are able to visit home twice a year.I did not see my family for two years when I first move to England.

  5. I’ve only been in North Germany for six months now, but I feel a few of these. Without the language you’re a bit helpless. My first idea was to bake something that reminded me of home, but lo, simply finding flour, eggs, vanilla, etc was more challenging than I anticipated. Then there’s the tricky mass versus volume conversion for recipes…add to that living with a bachelor who has zero baking tools and doesn’t understand why a springform pan isn’t the best for batter…

    • I feel your pain! Countless recipes have taken me far longer than necessary to get through because it’s hard to find the right ingredients and then get through the measurements. And my partner doesn’t understand springform’s either, lol.

  6. Haha! I have the opposite problem with time in America. After almost 19 years, I still have to think really hard to remember if midnight is 12 am or 12 pm. It was nice and easy when midnight started at 00:00 and there was only one 12:00, at noon.

  7. I utterly and completely relate to this. I recently arrived in Norway (less than a month ago) and I’m still trying to get used to it. My boyfriend, who is Norwegian and helps as much as he can but he just doesn’t grasp the concept that well. It’s nice to know there’s someone out there who understands 🙂

  8. I know how you feel about the ” starting from scratch”!! I move around a lot and the hardest part for me is always starting over again with making friends and building a social network. I am about to start from scratch again soon as I am planning on moving to South America for a while!!

  9. Hi, actually the subdivision of the krone is the øre (et øre, flere øre). There are 100 øre in 1 krone. But not long ago the last coin denominated in øre, the 50 øre coin, ceased being legal tender, so now it’s little more than a theoretical unit. When I was little we also had some tiny 10 øre coins, and before that there were 25, 5, 2, and 1 øre coins. You might come across references to øre in expressions (“snu på fem-øringen” comes to mind). Also the most correct way to pronounce a price such as “19,90 kr” would be “nitten kroner og nitti øre” (an abbreviated form would be “nitten – nitti”).

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