Norwegian Mentality

(The picture is from the Norwegian Horn Club. One that I found fitting to our mentality).

Norwegians are known to be positive people. We see solutions instead of problems, we're happy and sociable under the right conditions, and we're also serious drinkers!

Positive? What I mean by saying Norwegians are positive? I'll tell you what I mean.

Well, first of all, the first word in our national anthem is "yes". ("Ja, Vi Elsker"/"Yes, We Love", excellent title, no?) And such an excellent attitude as well! I think that pretty much sums it up. But because Norwegians are so much more than just that "Yes!" I'll continue.
We are raised with enthusiasm towards challenges, most of us are hard to put off - we're always zealous globally, to aid in the strive towards peace. Norwegians may seem shy and frightened of the world outside, we are known to be rather reserved towards strangers (bordering to rude), but towards the people we know? What other country can offer such an intensely eager population?

One of our past Prime ministers, Gro Harlem Bruntland said during her New Years' speech January 1st 1992 that "It's typically Norwegian to be good". What she meant by that exactly - have become a more or less controversial debate. The statement has the same dual meaning in Norwegian as it has in English. By this I mean that she could either have meant it as "It's typically Norwegian to be good ...(towards others)" or, that "It's typically Norwegian to be good ...(at the things they do)". Which is where I personally think that the Norwegian positive mind-set splits into the extro-positive and the self-positive.

We like to think of ourselves as a beautiful nation. Whenever we feel down, somebody can bring the albums out and point out that both Marilyn Monroe and Paris Hilton have Norwegian heritage. Beauty have become an interesting icon to our attitude towards patriotism (or at least how we feel about being Norwegian, and how that makes us beautiful, both physically and mentally). Being known as beautiful (or commonly misconcepted for being Swedes) we like to embrace the fact that we're a beautiful rare species! There are few Norwegians! And we are, I agree (I am Norwegian, I'm partial to our mentality), but we often forget that half the Norwegians on the planet (that is those who call themselves Norwegians) live in the USA. In addition to a couple of other madmen settled elsewhere - the Norwegians add up to approx 9. something million people.

Oh, you're laughing now, aren't you! I know you are! Shht! Really, I'm trying to shock the Norwegians! We are used to thinking that we make up a little less than 5 million people in Norway, never really to often consider the Norwegians that live elsewhere on the globe. And there you go again, that's how we perceive ourselves, not necessarily elitists, but better. Better than others. In a totally extrovert, open, warm and embracing, accepting, respective way. Like we totally tolerate and boggle at your country's achievements, but we still think (deep down) that if it had been done in Norway, or at least, by Norwegians - it would have been done a little better.

"Ja, Vi Elsker" actually continues with "dette landet". "Yes, we love this country".

We have our own flag printed on all our cucumbers, because we believe that only the Norwegian cucumbers are good enough for us to eat. No other country can make something up to Norwegian standard. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Norwegian guys use bubble-wrap condoms when they're abroad. That's the kind of self-possessed attitude I feel Norwegians can have sometimes. Strolling around with their blonde hair, waving and winking just like the foreign girls can't handle it.

It's not that impressive!
(and the "I POP BubbleWrap" blinkie in the sidebar suddenly seemed so inappropriate)


Audun said...

"Like we totally tolerate and boggle at your country's achievements, but we still think (deep down) that if it had been done in Norway, or at least, by Norwegians - it would have been done a little better."

Bwa hah hah, spot on!

Nice post, it describes us very nicely I think.

Audun said...

I log on to wow, and the first thing I see is a tauren hunter, casually swimming through the air, doing proper swimming strokes and all, probably on his way to his saturday morning shift, who knows.

I wonder if veterinaries ever artificially inseminate whales. It would probably be a small team, with flashlights, tents and lunch packs. And a barrel full of semen, set off by an explosive charge.
Or maybe they just hire some seamen to do it, fnar fnar.

Martin said...

You pretty much hit the nail on the head when saying Norwegians are borderline rude to unknown people, but warm and welcoming to people they know.

Foss said...

In Oslo with the unknowns, I did feel kinda outcast by them. But Audun, Tora, Elin etc. were really nice. Elin's been staying here since Wednesday and she's been amazing! So kind, helpful, and plain fucking awesome.

Also, we had a conversation about how Norway would run the world so much better than other countries. I totally agree! :)

nobushi said...

Many things in this post are exactly what many ex-pats would say about Norway and Norwegians. Like any attitude, the Norwegian one has its strengths and drawbacks.

Good is good. All but good is bad. Bad is bad, excellent is bad. This is how it worked in Eastern Europe under communism, too. This is how it works in the socialist Norway.

The example with cucumbers is good :-) All cucumbers have the same length, the same diameter, the same flag on it. Stable, good quality. Not excellent, not bad. Predictable. You say that's boring? I'd rather worried they are gene-modified :-)

Good average quality. Good and tasteless, like those cucumbers. But you never notice it, unless you taste the real thing some place else.

The basic alternative is, however, tasteful, but unpredictable. In this country, you go in the shop, you know what to expect.

People are predictable, too. I'm not saying it's good. Or bad, for that matter. It's just how it is.

"Yes, be average". That could be the first line in the anthem. That's where all the trouble with the hopeless school education originates. But why would we need good schools if average is enough? Put the flag on the school, it certainly helps :-)


Kida said...

Cucumbers with the norwegian flag on it is not genemodified, and they're all different. (I know cause I spent 5 months piling them up in a shop)

They only get our precious christian flag on their wrapper if they're grown in norway. And if they are, it means they're gorwn more or less natural, and they taste good. I can't say I'm an expert in cucumbers, but with lots of other fruits and vegetables there's a clear difference. The imported fruit and vegetables usually don't taste as much as ours

It's the truth mate.

nobushi said...

I think this article contains pretty much everything there is to it:


Much better explained than I could, and gives an insight into historical perspectyive and roots, too. Hope you guys will enjoy it as much as I did :-)


Anonymous said...

Yea, exactly the Norwegian mentality. Being a bit too full of yourself, but not realizing how hypocritical you are with so many things...

ne.tot said...


Norway has been pretty much isolated from the rest of the world for its entire history. This might be a clue to many, many things in the Norwegian mentality. Even these days, they do not vote for EU not because they are so greeeeedy about oil and stuff, but because Norwegians as a nation simply do not feel like part of this thing. Pretty damn simple, IMHO :-)

But I am just a sorcerer's apprentice when it comes to mentality and stuff, u no :-)

Jennifer said...

I found them incredibly rude and full of themselves. Worse than Americans.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Norwegian. I've lived abroad from South East Asia to Europe, travelled to all continents and I can say from my casual observation, Norwegians are the rudest race I have ever met. They are not just rude to foreigners, but rude to each other. The notion of etiquette and courtesy have gone out the window. This country is slowly deteriorating. You can see it in the spoilt youth, and even with the employees at work that piss off to go to their hyttes at 2pm on a Friday because they cannot be arsed to finish their work, nor fulfill their responsibilities.
The countryside is beautiful. The constructs of nationalism, bunad, national song, brown cheese -all quaint and beautiful. But on a nuclear level, people are not happy. There is a lot of jealousy. No privacy. Not a wonder why my forefathers migrated to the US! I too am following suite and leaving this country and leaving behind my Norwegian identity.

Foss said...

I'd call you a dick, but that would be rude.


Anonymous said...

Only a Norwegian could write this. Thank you so much for showing this to the world. Expressions like "Like we totally tolerate your country's achievements". If it wasn't for other countries' achievements Norway would have next to nothing. Do you really think Norwegian fishermen and pig farmers taught themselves how to locate and extract oil and gas from under the seabed? Norwegians have had many chances throughout history to show what they could do. The viking age, the renaissance, now even. Yet Norway has contributed relatively nothing to the world apart from hot air. Norway is a boring country, with boring people, that is famous for having no creativity or industry. When people of a country try to take credit for it's mountains, it's safe to say it's residents have very little in the way of human endeavor to brag about. Thank God for all other countries.

MerriMay said...

I agree, short of endearing, this article came across as very pompous, and dare I say full of yourself! I was fishing around the net for any info about Norway, as I recently started dating a Norwegian in London, England.
I have met a few Norwegians in my 27 years, I would say they are very similar to the British, very reserved to the point of cold. I wholeheartedly agree with the anonymous poster above.

Tora said...

I suppose the ironic undertones completely missed the spot here.

I apologize for this. Norwegians suck at most things, and we enjoy praising the mediocre as not to stand out. Because we're stuck in this socialist rut that is as rewarding as it is punishing.

I hope in the future you will disregard my thoughts as an "article", as this was just the hopelessly strange thoughts of a 19 year old girl. I read it myself and totally found it pompous, but honestly, I was trying to aim at sarcasm.

Everyone's different, an entire country can't be put into words. This strange piece is nothing but babble!

Anonymous said...

I lived in Norway 9 years, then moved to the US. It feels so much better than Norway! Fake all-American smiles are silly, but behind those practiced smiles, you often find friendly, helpful, open-minded people. Behind Norwegian unfriendly faces you find unfriendly people who care more about money than anything else.

Some of the things that bothered me most:

- You think you're the most beautiful nation in the world. This is so badly off! Living in a big multinational city in the US, I can hardly find any nationality whose people would not be at least as cute as you. Paris Hilton? Yes, please feel looking like Paris Hilton.

- You think everything Norwegian is better than anything from abroad. This is rather stupid. This reminds me of a little experiment done once in Trondheim. People on the street were fed Norwegian and foreign (Dutch, I think) strawberries. Most chose the latter as much better -- but the explanation was, of course, that those we Norwegian, thus better. As a matter of fact, your food products are mostly tasteless (and, yes, very predictably so), your cuisine is bland, and your hate for anything of foreign provenance makes your groceries extremely boring. In the US (and throughout Europe, for that matter), the variety of food is amazing. It's my choice whether I want to buy American, Asian, Indian, or whatever else taste -- in your little country, you tell people what they can buy. Your policies on importing food should be prosecuted for discrimination.

- You have no alcohol drinking culture. People will bring their alcohol to parties, drink their alcohol at parties, and bring their alcohol back home from parties. People get drunk at home before they go to a pub. It's not just because your government is overly eager to regulate alcohol prices (and even more eager to drain all the money they can from anyone buying a bottle of wine, or, God forbid, stringer alcohol). Your state thinks it's great to keep alcohol ridiculously expensive, but Norwegians feel just fine moonshining, smuggling from Sweden, or getting dead drunk on a ferry to Denmark. And you're noisy, arrogant, and aggressive while you're drunk.

- You are completely crazy about disturbing drivers with ridiculously low speed limits and enforcing them with road humps. You need these because you're are unable to teach your kids to move off the road instead of stupidly gaping in front of a coming car. You even set up special road signs blaming the drivers for your negligence to take care of the kids playing in the middle of the road. You don't trust the drivers, you don't trust anyone -- every rule has to be enforced on the people, it's not enough to explain and ask for obedience.

- You're extreme nationalists, your "norsk er best" can initially be read as just naive, but after a while it becomes irritating and bothersome. And that's one thing you just can't understand, because (as with "Norwegians are beautiful") you think everybody shares this opinion. Bullshit.

- Everything in your country has to be certified. You can't do simple fixes at home yourself, electric outlets in the store have a label "to be mounted by a certified professional", but your professionals are often plain dumb; I could do most of the stuff they did for me better myself. The purpose of certification is, of course, to have yet another way to drain people's wallets.

And so on, and so on. Overall, except for a few exceptions, Norway is the worst experience I've ever had. Yes, the mountains and fjords are beautiful, but that's not your achievement, it's good for summer vacation, a week or two in a car stuffed with out-of-Norway food. Otherwise, there's so little Norway can offer to a foreigner. Except for a good salary, perhaps, which anyway is immediately robbed off in every possible way. The climate... no comments.

Boring culture, boring food, boring people.

MrWhiteman said...

@nobushi Excellent writing! Very rare to see! Are you a writer or something?

@anonymus (last one) great comment!

@norwegians listen to what foreigners tell you! you can't understand it if you haven't lived in other countries (especially non-socialist ones)!

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