Before we begin, apologies for the click bait title. I guess you could maybe make an exception as the blog isn’t actually generating me any revenue (unless….).
Anyway, it’s been a whole month since my feet first touched the soil of my new adopted homeland, and I’ve learnt an incredible amount about Norwegian culture and day to day life. In fact I’ve learnt so much, that it would seem like a waste to put it all on a single blog post, so I’m banking some of these life lessons for a later date.
So, here are 5 things I’ve learnt since arrival.
1. There’s a bin for everything
I’m just not used to it okay. I don’t think I’m blowing anyone’s mind by saying Norwegians are quite environmentally friendly people, but they’ve also stepped up their trash can game massively.
Just for perspective purposes only, in my old apartment we had two trash cans, one for waste and another for recyclables. Recyclables included paper, cardboard and plastic bottles. Pretty much anything else that didn’t fit into that category went in the normal waste bin.
Norway is on another level however. Outside my apartment here, there are several bins for the following:
Bioavfall – The bin for all your food waste. Make sure you’ve got the biodegradable bags for this.
Glass og Metal – All glass bottles and metal containers like soup cans go in here. Must be washed out first.
Papir – Paper of all kinda, including cardboard and liquid containers.
Plast – For all the plastic. Doesn’t actually go in a bin outside, instead is left in a plastic bag!
Restavfall – Everything else that is included in the above, with the exception being…
Bottles – I think one of my new found pathetically sad hobbies is heading on down to the local shop to pant! Now, for my UK brethren, this is not the act of heading down to ASDA and stripping off, but it is the act of recycling your bottles in exchange for cash.
Now the cash that you receive is more like a refund. Every time you buy a bottle of Coke or a can of beer, you are effectively paying for a deposit on that bottle. If you want your money back, you must head down to a location with a pant machine. Once you’ve fed the machine with all the bottles, you can either chose to donate it to the Red Cross (and be entered into a lottery), or you can gain the money back in the form of a receipt. This can then be used for money off your next shop, or can be exchanged for cold hard cash.
2. It has been a mild winter in Hamar.
Back in the UK, if I saw it was 0 degrees, i’d call that day a write off and stay in bed all day. Here is obviously a different story. Norway is a cold place during the winter, and I’m hoping that this statement comes as no surprise.
However, according to the people I’ve spoken to, the winter here has been extremely mild. Probably the worst temperature I’ve seen so far has been -17, however even that pales in comparison to the much worse -30 that this region can expect.
Most mornings have seen temperatures drop to as low as -8, but in more recent times its been a much cosier -1. Hamar also has the benefit of not featuring much wind, so things have been fairly tolerable here.
Also on the subject of weather…
3. You get used to the weather.
Back in England, I stocked up on thermal shirts, thermal trousers, a big coat, woolly hats and gloves, fully expecting to still develop frostbite. I am glad to report however that most of my extremities are still in tact and functional.
You really do get used to the cold. Back at the start I was shaking and shivering at the site of -7 or -8, donning as many layers as possible with the hopes of not freezing to death, however I’ve really gotten used to it. In temperatures such as those mentioned above, I would typically only venture out with a T-shirt, Jumper and coat, along with jeans, big socks and boots.
Venturing outside and noticing that the temperature is only +1 now feels strange and alien, and almost too warm. Summers are going to be interesting…
4. Norway has some pretty fantastic pubs
The weekend prior to this blog post was my first venture outside into the Hamar “nightlife”. Now I’m not a massive drinker, but I do partake from time to time and I’ve familiarized myself with some of the shop bought beers such as Hansa.
Anyway, a couple of colleagues suggested visiting the pub opposite my office, a tucked away bar called Gullkorn Ølbar. My foolish perception is that all bars in Norway are just over-priced with a poor selection, however gladly I’ve been proven wrong.
Again, I’m not getting plugged to promote this bar, but they have a fantastic selection of ales, stouts and lagers from throughout Scandinavia and the rest of the world, and is truly a hidden gem in Hamar. The staff are also extremely knowledgeable on all aspects, and the selection regularly rotates so it’s always worth a re-visit.
Here’s a shameless plug for their Facebook, have a visit if you’re ever in the area!
5. Skiing is very important
Unsurprisingly, few things are more prominent during the winter than Skiing. It’s around this time that people dust away the winter blues with trips to the local ski resort, newspapers and TV reports show nothing else but Skiing news, and people venture to sports shops like XXL and so forth for new equipment.
Now I’m exceedingly jealous of this, as I don’t know how to ski. I feel like i’m failing at living in this country already due to this simple fact. It’s almost like a catch 22 right now, I want to learn how to ski but I don’t want to come across as someone who doesn’t know how to ski.
I have failed you all…
There’s an incredible amount I’ve learnt so far during my first month, what with all the registration processes and tax information, so it’s good to step back once in a while and observe and note some of the more “unusual” aspects of this fabulous country. Hopefully I’ll come up with some more interesting ones next time…I can’t keep writing about trash cans, can I?