Pros and cons of living in Norway through the eyes of Russians

Pros and cons of living in Norway through the eyes of a Russian

Hello ladies and gentlemen, my name is Grigory, I have lived for quite some time in Norway. The main motto of Norway, I would call it so “The climate is worse, but life is better”. But I will try for you, dear readers, a little more detail on this phrase. So what are the pros and cons of life in cold Norway?

Norway tops the list of countries in the human development index, although it was once a poor country of fishermen and farmers, until oil and gas were found on its territory. Norway does not spend the profits from the sale of these resources, but transfers them to the “Fund for Future Generations,” which we should do. There is already about $900 billion in this Fund. Norway now has a population of just over five million people. And all this is certainly a plus.

The nature of Norway can be considered both pluses and minuses of this country. It has very beautiful landscapes, mountains, lakes, but six months of the year there is a severe lack of sunlight, which leads to frequent depressions. The ecology in Norway is almost perfect, the water from the tap flows cleaner than bottled water. In 2025, the Norwegians want to completely ban the sale of gasoline cars and switch to electric cars.

Norway, despite the advanced economy – it is a very social country. The higher your income, the more taxes you pay, which I think is very fair. While the minimum wage in Norway is $ 3,500, and the average – 5,000, which can also be attributed to the pluses. By the way the working day in Norway lasts strictly until three o’clock in the afternoon and that is a plus.

However high wages in Norway and give rise to the main minus of this country – the size of the prices. For example, a bus ticket costs $ 11, a liter of gasoline $2, and a burger about 10. This is why internet shopping is quite popular here, when almost any item is much more profitable to order from abroad than to buy in Norway.

Housing in Norway, I would refer to the pluses, despite the cost of renting an apartment. For example in the city of Oslo it starts from $ 1,000 a month. All housing here is warm and reliable, everywhere are double glazing and underfloor heating. Norwegians like to build their houses on the side, because almost all of Norway is rural. Almost every house has a sauna or bathhouse, which they love and visit several times a week.

Unlike other countries in Europe, Norwegians love to cook at home and that’s a big plus. Their cuisine is even somewhere similar to ours because they eat a lot of potatoes, meat and bread. By the way the people of Norway are big coffee drinkers and they drink this drink quite often. There are quite a lot of exotics like whale meat.

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Education and medicine are free, but the study is carried out exclusively in Norwegian. Public transport is well developed. All these social benefits to the population – a big plus in favor of Norway. Flaunting money in Norway is considered bad form.

Another plus is safety. Norway is so safe that even the police go unarmed, and prisons are more like our vacation home. It is also very clean and there is almost no trash.

One disadvantage of life in Norway has recently emerged – a wave of migrants from Africa and Muslim countries. However, the Norwegians have coped with this as well. At the request of “workers,” the country’s migration policy was severely tightened in 2014, and “new arrivals” were kicked out of the country.

Overall, as you can see, there are more pluses than minuses. In fact, the only minus in Norway is the rather cold climate. But if you like peace and nature, as well as a high level of comfortable living, then you’re here. All the more for the Russians are not afraid of frost.

And you would like to live in Norway?

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From the point of view of a tourist, Norway is one enormous five-star state hotel with a view of mountains, fjords and feminists. Everything is thought out there. Well, just everything. If the scoreboard says that the bus number 69 will arrive in two minutes, in exactly two minutes he will show up, like a horse in front of the gang. Not a minute later. Everything is calculated: from the schedule of trains, streetcars and buses to the ease of orientation in space, the purchase of tickets and the rental of the “cucurbit”. The only thing that matters is money, and the rest is ease and comfort.

And here you are, an ordinary Russian, standing in the middle of Oslo, looking at this festival of rationality, thoughtfulness and comfort, and you realize with horror: they live in this, this is the level of the Norwegian norm. What for us, homo touristus, is almost a miracle of infrastructure and magic, for them is commonplace. Speaking of them. Norwegians – just dushki. They all smile, walk around with happy faces, help if necessary. The kids are happy to explain in almost pure English which way to go.

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I found out where that foreign language proficiency came from. Well, first of all, simple common sense comes into play: English is an international language, and this fact for Norwegians a priori means that every nation must know it. Secondly, the country is so small that there are no “dubbing” and “translation of books”, except maybe for children’s books. So, local Kinder children watch movies in the original and listen to English while reading Norwegian subtitles. They learn two languages at once.

A separate story – the way the Norwegians have a rest. I had a chance to visit the mountain Gallhöpiggen – the highest point in Scandinavia, with a breathtaking view of the abyss two and a half kilometers deep. And on other mountains, of course. Our recommendation to thrill-seekers is to go there alone or with two or three people, no more. For others who value their lives and love BDSM, there is a tying service.

About 30 people are tied together with a rope and led by a guide to the top of the mountain. Why such an orgy? It’s simple: there is over 210 meters of snow under your feet and one wrong step will lead to a long free fall. And here comes our group of 30 tourists, trudging through the drifts to the top of the mountain, half way up – and suddenly the guide shouted somewhere in the distance, through me and the whole group.

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I turn around and see: about 300 meters behind us are three people, as it turned out later, the Slavs, without safety rope and even sticks, which checks the depth of snow before each next step. Oh, they were punished by our guide when they caught up with us on the pass! They ended up joining our group – order above all, this is Norway.

Another favorite vacation spot of the Norwegians – the mountain track Bessegen. Given: a mountain with two foothills in the middle of other peaks and mountain lakes. The quest is as follows: you are taken by boat to one foot of the mountain, and you can go back only after you have overcome the damn mountain and reached the second foot. For those who didn’t make it the first time, there is an expensive hotel at the beginning of the trail for an overnight stay. For those who give up, a boat runs in the opposite direction.

The trip takes an average of six hours. Six hours of jumping on the rocks is a dubious pleasure for most Russians, but the absolute norm for the Norwegians. Maximum release of adrenaline causes part of the path, the width of which does not exceed six meters, and on both sides – a precipice of a couple of hundred meters down.

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It turns out some perfect people. If you sit on the fence for an hour or two and watch what happens, you can give them the following characteristic: biorobots, playing for joy, success and happiness. The Norwegian mentality does not involve complaining about life, because it is simply irrational, and in general – why should anyone know that something went wrong with you. It is better to keep the sorrow to yourself, pull a happy smile and walk around, letting dust in the eyes of others, tourists and yourself.

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At first the goodwill is perceived as something unbelievable, because in the CIS you cannot find such people on the streets. However, digging deeper, you realize that behind the strained smiles hides the utter mediocrity, grayness, unhappiness. They themselves do not know why they live. Pay attention to the wording used by Norwegians: they get a normal education, a normal job, a normal income, a normal life. It makes you want to ask: how is “normal”? And who defines this normality?

It is known that in this country, there are no rich and poor. All people are middle class. They are all equally well dressed, drive equally nice cars, and have equally nice vacations. No, I’m not against the fact that everyone lives equally well, but in this particular case it hides a lack of individuality. The Norwegian painter Edvard Munch has a painting called “An Evening in Karl Johans Street” (Oslo’s main street). This picture perfectly reflects life in Norway, because it shows people with the faces of biorobots. Why biorobots?

Developed infrastructure, buses and trains by the hour, specificity, confidence in the future, life on a schedule (home – work – home, pizza and cola on weekends), comfort, comfort, comfort – boredom. The result is the same: the lack of the need to exert effort, to think, take the initiative, to develop. That is, a life of complete automatism. Isn’t that why Norway commits twice as many suicides as Italy, and two and a half times as many as Greece?

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My introduction to Norway began with hardcore. On my first visit to the land of Vikings and feminists, I went not to the socialist paradise of Oslo, not on a fjord cruise and the famous serpentine “Troll Staircase”, but to the polar Lofoten Islands. And to make it really fun, even on the eve of polar night – the sunny day lasted less than 50 minutes, and two days after our departure, the sun did not appear from behind the horizon for the last time.

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We were to travel around the islands on a mighty off-road Lexus LX460, which, at first glance, inspires confidence. Powerful atmospheric V8, permanent four-wheel drive, a bunch of safety electronics, expensive winter tires with spikes – what could go wrong? The answer turned out to be non-trivial: local drivers. Dark night, mountain serpentine, snowstorm, ice-covered road, no lights. A road sign signals the speed limit of 80 kilometers per hour, and it looks like a mockery.

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Before turns I slow down to 50 or even 40 kilometers per hour. Suddenly a Volvo station wagon with an old lady at the wheel overtakes us on the next straight line, almost tearing off the rear view mirror against the rock, which is here instead of the roadside. Without slowing down, the old lady tucks the car into a perfect curve. Surely, her car Volvo is better suited for serpentine driving than a big Lexus SUV, but I am amazed anyway.

After half an hour I’m not surprised even by the truck driver, who is unhappily blinking the “chandelier” of additional lighting, demanding me to drive faster. For the last 35 kilometers we were overtaken by a lot of people. Norwegians are fantastic feel their machines and tire grip, driving very fast and emphasized correctly, as if everyone had graduated from the school of sports or at least a contravention of the driving. Naturally, no one breaks, because the penalty for exceeding even one kilometer per hour – 85 euros. Another thing is that it was difficult for me to maintain a legal speed.

Having returned to Moscow, my first thought was to find out why the Lofotenians drive so abruptly. The answer, of course, lay in the driver training system. If in Russia driving schools only prepare for the exam in the traffic police by doing three or four exercises on the testing area and driving around the city at 40 kilometers per hour, the task of the Norwegian driving school is to prepare the future driver for real life.

The list of compulsory lessons includes long-distance driving (three and a half hours behind the wheel), driving on country highways and highways, overtaking, driving on a driving range simulating slippery surfaces, driving at night, driving on a map, a first aid course, and a course on car engineering. Any Norwegian driver knows where to pour what technical fluid, can read a map, bandage wounds, and even perform a police turnaround. I’m not sure that all professional car racers in Russia are as well trained!

The price of tuition is equally astounding. Training at the school costs at least 25,000 NOK – nearly 193,000 rubles! For an exam in the police pay 3,500 crowns – 27,000 rubles. Naturally, in Norway a different level of salaries, but even for the Norwegians rights – not a cheap pleasure. And do not think that once you get a license, you can not worry about anything. Any serious violation in the first two years of driving – deprivation of license and re-examination.

The level of infrastructure is also striking. On irrigated polygons simulating a slippery road, plastic figures of people and animals suddenly appear in front of you. In the classrooms, models of car interiors are installed, on the example of which the instructors tell you about the correct seating habits. The training program is worked out in detail. Instructors teach how to turn on high beam and when to turn on fog lights, how to place a child in a child safety seat, how to check oil and brake fluid levels, how to change a wheel, in the end!

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All this is for one single purpose: to completely eliminate the loss of life on the country’s roads in the 2020s. And there is no doubt that they will achieve this, because 2015 was the first year when no child under the age of ten was killed on the roads in Norway. It is even surprising that the Norwegians have not yet subjugated the world motorsport. So far, the Vikings dominate only in rally-cross and look good in rally. How it will be yet!

But the Norwegians from Lofoten Islands amaze imagination not only by riding a car, but also by walking and cycling. You would think what could be more trivial, but the locals find something to surprise. First, there are bicycle paths even between the villages. Is the next village tastier than the bread in the bakery? Only 20 kilometers by bicycle – and it’s done. Naturally, the bicycle path is always cleared, even if the morning snowfall on the islands. Secondly, Norwegians walk and ride in all weathers.

The wind is so strong that I can hardly open the car door, and they calmly wander along the footpath, laid next to the bike path. They have a hood on their heads, Nordic walking poles in their hands, icicles on their noses. And all alone. If the Italian can find someone to make noise with, even in the Sahara Desert, the Norwegian can be secluded even in a crowd of his own kind. In the villages, houses are built as far away from each other as possible. And the Norwegians do not visit each other. Why would anyone create inconvenience?

Not every foreigner can survive in such conditions. The long winter, the polar night, the harsh sea wind and loneliness. And does it matter after that that the bicycle path to the next village is always cleared, if no one is waiting for you in this village? How not to remember that not only thousands of Russians from Murmansk go to Norway’s Kirkenes in search of civilization, but also hundreds of Norwegians rush in the opposite direction, wanting to plunge into the merry Russian world with discos until morning, beautiful women, far from feminism, and inexpensive alcohol. It is a pity, but it seems impossible to combine the Norwegian order with Russian freedom.

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