The Thing About the Norwegian King

“It is not always easy to determine where we are from. What we call home is where our heart is, and that cannot always be placed within country boarders.” – Harald V, King of Norway.

Our King and Queen. Obviously not my own photo.

A couple of days ago the Norwegian King held a speech. The Norwegian media has been going on about it every day since. In short it’s about us accepting who “us” is becoming, and already has become. It’s about Norwegians being a people made up of, yes; people from all regions of Norway, but also people from Afghanistan, Poland, Sweden and so on. It’s about Norwegians being one.

On 17th of May, Norway’s Constitution Day, all Norwegians celebrate.

From time to time I question why Norway is still a monarchy. I question the monarch’s importance and if we really need one. However, this is not one of those times. Our monarch is an important symbol, and when Norway needs to unite, whether it be in grief or in celebration, we turn to the Castle. When Norway was hit by a terrorist attack in 2011 we put flowers in front of, not the parliament, not the hospitals, but the castle. Always the Castle.

You can (hopefully) see the speech here: (I don’t think it’ll show up in the usual email)


The Buddyweek

I have told you about our crazy tradition when graduating High School. Now I’m going to introduce you to what it’s like to start university and college.

Our buddies wear yellow!

Every student in their first year is a part of what we call “fadderuken” – buddyweek. Formally its purpose is to let the new get to know each other with the help of older students – the buddys. To some extent it succeeds, but it also involves a whole lot of partying and drinking. For those who don’t drink this can be challenging.

Making a K for the bar named Kronbar.

I think the buddies did a good job including everyone this year. Sure, there’s been a whole lot of parties, but they also took us around the city doing different tasks, we had a sports day, introduction to the different student organizations, and we had a barbecue (yey!). I have gotten to know a few people, not well, but what matters now is that it all becomes easier with familiar faces in a crowd of strangers.

# Playing cannonball like our lives depended on it!

Norwegians’ Obsession with Cabins

I imagine it must seem strange to foreigners, this need Norwegians have to go to a remote place in the woods or the mountains. A place where they apparently just play board games, ski or take long walks, depending on the season. Why not do this at home; avoiding the long drive? From one Norwegian to all of you, I’ll try to explain.

As if nature doesn’t explain it alone.

Ever since I came back from Australia it feels like I have been stuck. It was the last of the two great adventures I had planned for my gap year, and I have had a hard time letting go of it. I know I’m soon going to Italy with my family for summer vacation, but it’s not the same. So, calling up a friend, I suggested doing something very Norwegian, going to a cabin – away from my usual surroundings, away from the noise and expectations, to a place where we could be alone together.

Well, maybe not completely alone…

Norwegian cabins are usually pretty straight forward. They’re made of wood, are small, have no Wifi, and smell of the outdoors and the mandatory fireplace. Some have running water, but most don’t. The electricity is used for the lights and the old stove – not to charge your computer or Ipad, because you didn’t bring them and neither did anyone else. Of course, many update their cabins to become better than their houses, but for me that ruins it.

Because what would a trip to the cabin be without this? It might look like a toilet, but when you lift the lid it’s actually just a hole. If you haven’t tried one, you won’t know about the wind that comes up from under. It makes your bathroom visits exceptionally fast during winter.

Cabins. There’s something about the silence. There’s something about the lack of human interference. There’s something about less electronics and more eye contact. At cabins Norwegians spend time with the people they care about (or maybe just themselves), while actually being there. Too often time is consumed by all the things that one “has” to do, but that really could wait.

My friend enjoying the moment.