When I moved to Norway I expected to be surprised by some things. In much the same way when I tell people I came form New Zealand they expect me to be surprised by some things. The things that surprised me has not always been as expected from either side.


I expected food to be much the same generally but traditional foods to be way different than traditional kiwi fare. How wrong I was, the traditional dishes I have been fed so far would pass as kiwi food, anglo kiwi that is.

Take lapskus its a good meat casserole like grandma would cook. There are many recipes on the net but to give you one in english I grabbed this from the Daughters of Norway site.

Lapskaus (Norwegian Stew)
Unattributed, combined and edited two recipes.
1-1/2 pounds lean beef, cubed 1 large onion, cubed
1-1/2 pounds lean lamb, cubed 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 pound pork, cubed salt to taste
4 cups or about 8 potatoes, cubed optional: 2 carrots sliced
optional: 1/4 tsp. nutmeg optional: 2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. oil water to cover
Stew recipes are inherently flexible in the details. Brown meat lightly in oil. Add water to cover and let boil about 30 minutes. Add seasonings and vegetables. Simmer another half hour or until the meat is tender. Serve with a side salad, and flat bread.

I was told I would be surprised by Norwegian potato use, practically every day Norwegians eat potatoes I was told. No joking, Every Day!! I had to let them down gently and tell them this is not surprise, most kiwis would eat pototatoes every day too.

On the food front I was surprised though about

  • lollies, namely that there was so much licorice and marzipan based lollies.
  • Now its getting closer to Christmas how much christmas food is in the stores.
  • How good yogurt is here
  • How good real sauerkraut is, mmmmm and its considered one of the new super foods too!
  • That they don’t have pickles and chutneys like we do.
  • That Worcestershire sauce would be so expensive.
  • That good number of folks know and love marmite / vegemite.

On the Christmas food front, I don’t mean they are getting in turkeys and mixed nuts and all. I mean that normal foods have Christmas versions that are appearing on the shelf. Like Christmas fizzy drinks (bris) Christmas sausages (pølser), Christmas this and Christmas that. Jarle says they will be brewing Christmas beer (øl), not his favourite as its too an old time recipe.

Christmas sausage (Julepølser)
Christmas sausage (Julepølser)
Jule Bris (Christmas FIzzy Drink)
Jule Bris (Christmas Fizzy Drink)
Sweet Christmas Treats
Sweet Christmas Treats

I spotted a jar of fruit mincemeat on the shelf and thought all was not that different maybe, but Jarle said he had not seen it before. He also looked a bit dubious about meat being in a jar on the shelf. Common mistake seeing as English only uses the word meat for animal flesh nowadays and fruit mincemeat was named back when dried fruit had a meaty texture so was meat. Many folks I know are confused why anyone would call dried fruit meat too. We bought a jar as could be the only one we find, though I think I maybe eating the fruit mince pies alone LOL.

Public Service

I didn´t expect to be surprised at the public service I mean it´s the same the world over right? Least western countries it´s gotta be pretty much the same right? But some close at 14:00 or 15:00 in an afternoon and I find that just pure strange. I thought closing at 16:30 like some of ours do was early enough in a day.

Movie Theatres

I expected to find films dubbed in Norwegian but everything else pretty much the same in the movie going world. Was a little surprised at how many films you can view in English some films playing in a variety of formats eg:

  • English no subtitles
  • English with Norwegian subtitles
  • Norwegian
  • Norwegian with subtitles

Take a look

But more than this was my surprise at how you buy tickets.

While you can bowl up to the theatre and buy tickets, most people buy over the Internet. You can reserve your seat when you buy online and the system sends you a code to your cellphone. Once you get to the cinema you bowl up to a friendly machine and put in your code and it prints out your tickets for you.

This is so much better than buying tickets over the Internet back home. Where I had to write down or print out my confirmation of purchase. Go to the cinema and bowl up to the counter along with everyone else buying tickets. Then go through a three point security check to ensure it was me that bought the tickets and then the theater staff logged in and assigned me my seats and it seemed a bit of a hassle for them to do this rather than just sell me the ticket. I decided after doing it once just before I left NZ that I would not do it again given the chance.

The Norwegian system seems to be more really electronic ticketing while the NZ one seems only halfway there making it the worst of both worlds, for me.

The other thing about movie theatres that surprised me is the way the let you out of a movie. In New Zealand you go out the way you came in. In Norway you go out those doors that in NZ are emergency only exits and they ´dump´you right out on the street or an alley. Except the one went to today (the collesuem) which took you to a small internal strip opposite which were the doors that took you outside.


I expected it to be colder here in Norway than my pacific home New Zealand, but the first month here (Sept 2009) was great weather. Sunny still days with enough heat to keep me happy.
I am eternally surprised though by how still it is. Days on end the trees may as well be painted backdrops for they move not at all. I am not really complaining though it kinda creeps me out. The cold is no way near as bad as I suspect when I look at the temperature, as there is no wind to whip under your clothes and through fastenings to chill you. I really appreciate what wind chill factor is now I know how cold cold is without that good old Welly wind.

I was also surprised how non-slippery snow is. It´s ice I have to watch for I am told.


Road Signs

New Zealand has been slowly changing its road signs to internationally accepted ones (say the PR for the changes) so I was expecting Norway being part of European continent would have pretty similar signs to NZ. Boy was I wrong. Not that they are all different, but there are enough different to throw me.

Road signs in Norway (wikipedia)

The grey signs here threw me at first:

Road signs of Norway (wikipedia)

especially the ones with cars and people on as I thought it was saying there can be no cars / people after this sign, yet patently this was not being followed by those around me. Eventually I learnt that is means end of a zone. So the people one has a people only sign compatriot and when you get the grey people sign with lines thorugh it it means end of the people only zone ie now you are in a car and people zone so watch out…

Road signs of Norway (Wikipedia)

The yellow diamond sign flummoxed me for a while too but its kinda a cool sign now I have been told what it is for. In New Zealand we have a rule that traffic on minor roads give way to traffic on major roads. This is even in the driving test with minor roads being drawn narrower than major and questions being asked which car gives way to which.

The yellow diamond however lets you know (for certain) that your road has right of way and the yellow diamond with a black slash over it means your road no longer has right of way. Now in New Zealand there is never much confusion in peoples minds which is the minor and which is the major road but this sign makes it very clear what is going on.


Obviously coming to Norway meant learning a new language. I thought it would be consonants and not vowels I would have trouble with seeing I as was coming from a vowel based language area (Maori and Samoan have lots of vowels in words).
However, it seems that while I am struggling to pronounce a word right and listening to the consonants it usually turns out its the vowels I am mangling.

Norwegian vowels are

a e i o u æ ø å

Easiest vowels to explain are:

  • a which sounds like maori a
  • i which sounds like maori i
  • Ã¥ which sounds like maori o