søndag 2. mai 2010

Somethings I have learned about Norway so far...

Talking about my conturbed cross cultural experience to my Hald friend Kristina, I admited how far I am to say that I am adapted to the Norwegian culture, but, in the other hand, how much I have learned about Norway in the past 9 months.
The truth is that I have been struggling with cultural shock during my intire time in Norway and was not humble enough to admit it once I wanted to believe that I was super women enough to face a first abroad experience with any kind of misunderstandings :)
But in fact, I have been loving and hating Norway at the same time and now I see that the reason is that my very "not-used to another culture" mind was not prepared to face so many differences for such a long time at once. Hopefully, according to Kristina, in the next time I decide to spend some time away from Brazil, it is gonna be easier, becaue my mind will be prepared after a previous experience. But of course, I have to be humble to accept that in a new culture, I am indeed a child and it requires some time to grow up and to understand why people are behaving in such a different way then the one I am used to.

I was also telling this good friend that Im a little frustrated to leave Norway in the moment I started to understand the cultural codes and the Norwegian language and the wise Kristina gave me a very good advice: she suggested me to write about what I have learned about Norway so far, to make my life easier if someday I end up in this country again.

Even though I dont have any clue if I will come back to Norway I decided to accept the suggestion because it helps me to organize some of the things that have been in my mind for the last months. I will start in this post, but probabilly continue in after posts in the following days or months. And this is because Norway had became relevant in my life afterwall and I can not express my gratitude for this experience. Hopefully, I will be able to share part of it in a constructive way in my own context... lets wait and see!

So, here we go:
Norwegians in general are really concerned about equality, this is a common value: "dignity for all", which means that there are no people making hard work and being less payed because of that and there are no people to wash our clothes, dishes or houses. Everybody has to do what is necessary and if that means cleaning, everybody helps and the responsabilities are shared.
This equality is also econonomical, in the country considered as the best place to leave in the world, the resources are shared among the population and is not good to earn much more then the others. Derfor people would rather burn their houses or cars instead of boasting themselves about their well faire. I think this goes on the oposite way in the brazilian context.
The equality between the gender is also very important and respected. Men are still being more reconized in public functions, but is getting better each day more. In the Norwegian Parliament there are 10 male ministers and 10 female.
In the domestic life, men should help to keep the house cleaned and organized and also to raise up the children. In of of the kindergartens I have worked there was this guy who had taken the year off his job to take care of the two year old child. The mother had done the same thing in the year before.
Derfor women have a very active voice and are respected as men are. This is something I will miss for sure. Never in my intire life I felt so free to be a women and not pretend Im fragile because of that.

This lead to another very Norwegian way of life: what is pratical and objective comes first than the desire to pleasure the other person. Im not saying that people are rude up here, it is just that they wont bother thinking about a polite or nice way to say something just to pleasure the one listening. They will offen say what is needed and what is truth, even if is not the truth that the other one wants to listen.Example: I bought some very childish plates for my best friend birthday in order to have fun and create a relaxed atmosphere. However, with my brazilian way of thinking I asked him if it was too childwish. I knew it was, but I wanted him to say that it was ok, that he didnt bother. However, what he said was: "Yes, it is, if you asked I think you wanted me to be honest." hahahhaha

Another topic is that Norwegians really respect the time and the other people time, which means that they are ponctual for work, but also in social activities. Of course they can be late, but, if it happens, the expected is to send at least an sms to the other person leting he knows how the late the second person is gonna be. And is not so good if is more then 15 minutes.

Another very important aspect to understand the Norwegian culture is called Janteloven. It is not "allowed" to believe in yourself and even less to say it aloud if you do. Spending a weekend with another friend and talking to her parents about something I think she is really good in, I realized that they had the oposite atitude that my parents would have if someone had make a compliment to me. In instead of getting proud and start saiyng that they know their daughter is clever, they were giving excuses for her exit while she was blushing because of my compliments.
Stupid Erica...ok, maybe it is not gonna happen a second time :)

4 kommentarer:

EC sa...

Wow, Erica, this was really fun to read! Of course, everything you say about Norway is true, but I've never seen it from this point of view before. Janteloven is a big part of our mentality on politeness. This is surely something norwegians could learn from other cultures, such as yours, not to be so strict and negative towards ourselves. But it's nice to hear that you have grown fond of our cold and strange country.:-)
Hugs from Eva (Linda's friend..)

Jan Arne sa...

Hahhaha, good writing! I think you are very right.

Though maybe 1 of the things are a bit exaggerated, like the "honest-thing" ,,,,since my experience is that many norwegians will have a hard time being honest about your questions some times.....hehe anyway, , i think this is a really good description! So nice to hear a foreign view of our culture:))

Erica sa...

EC, indeed Im big found your country and have to confess that is a bit hard to say goodbye now :)
Tanks for you coment, it was really nice to read!!!

Ja, ja... Jan, I know the honesty thing is not about everything (spcially after I met you, hahaha) but compared to our culture, you guys are pretty honest about dailly and not so important things like childwish plates for example! Ikke sant?

Jan Arne sa...

Yesssssss., i guessssss :)