Stereotypes and Such-Happy Earth Day!
If I’ve learned something while living in this wonderful place, it’s that a lot of stereotypes are truly based in reality, while others of course are not. Here are a few random thoughts on the subject!
*Since it’s Earth month and today was Earth Day (woohoo, hug a tree!) I’ve been thinking about all this quite a lot lately and how it fits in with the stereotype or norsks being out-doorsy-nature-lovin’-folk. The thing is, Norwegians really are close with nature, at least the ones I know. Everyone I know has a cabin (or two sometimes haha) that they like to hike to in the winters or summers to spend time skiing or swimming or reading a book or whatever. A lot of people think it’s almost “cheating” or not as real to have a cabin with all the fixins-TV, internet, etc. People just seem to care more about the environment. Trondheim is a city of roughly 150,000 people, and the streets are nearly as clean as Northfield’s. People just don’t seem to litter; I mean, people litter, obviously, but not on the scale that people do it in the US where we have to have the “Adopt a Highway” program to keep our lands clean.
Another thing that’s really cute, is in a lot of bathrooms (mostly at the school, but I’ve seen it elsewhere) there are these little cartoon signs telling you that ONE paper towel is ENOUGH! And it shows you how to do it; ya know, wash your hands, then SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE them off, then just grab one haha. It’s pretty cute, something I could totally see people putting up around campus at Olaf. People don’t like to buy a new water bottle every day either. I’ve joined in and I literally have had the same bottle for at least 2 weeks. Eventually they get grungy and you throw them away, but mostly you just use the same one until it’s worn down. And everyone recycles. Like everything. It’s like you don’t realize how much can truly be recycled until living in a place like this where they really don’t just throw away barely anything because everything gets recycled-it’s wonderful!
*On a different note, there really are a lot of blonde hair blue eye tall thin people, as well as a lot of St. Olaf look-a-likes. I swear I’ve seen half the St. Olaf population since I’ve been in Norway…this is not, of course, the only type of person :). Trondheim is a bit farther north, a bit less settled with immigrants, and to me maybe a bit more what people back home think of as “stereotypical” Norway. I chose to study in Trondheim instead of Oslo because of those reasons. However, at this time Norway has around 500,000 immigrants or children born to immigrant parents, which is roughly 10 percent of the population, so it is by no means homogeneous. People come in all shapes in sizes everywhere in the world; it’s just more diverse in some areas than others.
*Minnesotans may have inherited a lot of speech cadences and long vowels from the norsk, but “Minnesota-nice” is clearly not a ‘true’ Scandinavian trait. We like to make small talk with the person next to us on the bus, talk about the weather with the grocery store clerk, gossip in small-towns with people you meet on the street, and lend a hand to complete strangers if they look lost or confused. Norwegians are much more self-reliant than us haha. I mentioned this before, but on last weeks episode of “Alt for Norge” (the reality show that sent Norwegian-Americans over to Norway to discover their roots!) the contestants were faced with the task of buying a few items in the city of Stavanger with just a sheet of paper with the name on it. They had no clue what these things were really or where to get them. Of course they’re standing around looking up and all around, and start attempting to stop random passersby and ask for directions to a store or where they can find a certain item. The thing is, they got little to no help, and when they did, people were pretty reluctant.
Now I can’t speak for all you Oles, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve been walking on campus and a passing car has pulled over and asked “Can you tell me where the soccer fields are?” or “Do you know how to get to this Skogland Center?” and I smile and point out the way to take down the only road through campus. It’s not that Norwegians are cold or don’t want to help others, they are just more reserved and become so much more independent as such a young age; many students move out of their parents’ homes at age 16 to go to a larger city to attend a specific high school. When I was 16 my mom was still making my breakfast and supper every day and I can’t remember ever doing something on my own like calling the doctor or shopping for groceries. My point is, I think that part of the reason the norsk seem less-willing to help out a stranger, is that they’ve been figuring stuff out on their own for many years longer than a lot of Americans. I mean, I’m 21 and I’ve never filed my own taxes, payed my own phone bill, or truly lived on my own (until I came here of course :)). I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I know not all Americans are like me either, who is lucky enough to have parents that are willing and able to support me completely in my education and want me to focus on school and not bills until I have to, but I know at least some of these things are true. I mean, how many of you filed your own FAFSA in the few years you’ve been at college? I wouldn’t know where to begin! The list goes on and on. Point being, even though Norwegians don’t have the Minnesota-nice, they’re pretty good people once you get to know them :).
Anyways, those are my few random thoughts right now. I have to finish reflecting on my boyfriend and his mom’s visit so I can send out that post with lots of pictures!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Earth Day (which apparently is just an American thing, btw; I guess every day is Earth Day here, har-de-har) and that your April is wrapping up nicely. Owe, sidenote! At this point there’s about 16 hours of daylight-today sunrise was at 5:30 a.m. and sunset around 9 p.m. and in just 2 short weeks we’ll gain another hour. Very awesome. I like living this close to the arctic circle :).
Peace, Love and Respect to everyone-xoxo Emma K