It’s been a little over a week since I’ve been an expat in Norway and I gotta say, so far so good! I haven’t burned down the house with our fire-hazard corner of transformers and extension cords, my kids aren’t starving in protest to the different food and I haven’t gotten lost.

I’ve been to Europe and Scandinavia a decent amount of times, and there’s a few cultural differences that I always forget about until I return. And they always make me smile, like when you’re down South in the U.S. and someone offers you “sweet tea.” Anyway, here they are:

  • Bathroom stall doors that reach the floor. This may not seem like a big deal, but trust me, it is. Especially for moms with small ones. So the bathroom doors in America most often are short. Meaning, there is a 18 inch (45 centimeters) space between the floor and the bottom of the door. I’m not sure why this is, but when going to the restroom with a curious toddler, they find this space enticing. They’ll want to bend over, place their hands on the floor (ew!!!) all in an effort to peek at what’s going on in the stall next door. Or sometimes they will drop to their hands and knees on the petri dish of a bathroom floor in an attempt to make a great escape. Meanwhile, you’re stretching out your arms to control your child and you’re hovering, hovering ever-so-carefully.
Not only do the bathroom doors reach the floor, but these doors come with pictures.

Not only do the bathroom doors reach the floor, but these doors come with pictures.

  • Good boxed wine isn’t an oxymoron. There’s something supremely awesome about hearing wine whooshing out of a spigot like one of those orange containers we drank from after T-ball practice. And there’s no shame in boxed wine here, whereas in the U.S. it seems like the “cubed” wine at Target is the only one most people are OK with admitting to drinking.


  • Smoking. Man, do people here smoke a lot of cigarettes. When we moved from Chicago to Portland, we noticed that a lot more people smoked. (No judgments, some of my best friends are smokers.) But here, I notice it even more. When we arrived in Amsterdam, I smiled at the smokers room at the airport. We’ve still got a handful of those rooms around U.S. airports, but it’s been awhile since I’ve seen one.


  • Cheese. Oh the cheese. These folks love them some cheese and the vast quantity and variety is toe-curdling good. Even the Wisconsinites would be proud. Check this out, what do you think it’s a picture of? Butter? Lard?
Cheese, yes, Yes, this is cheese.

Yes, this is cheese.

  • Old men who shop at Diesel. Now I love the street fashion in Europe and Scandinavia. Folks just seem to put more thought into their clothes as well as how the clothes fit. I mean people in these parts were metrosexual before that was a thing in the U.S. However, it always makes me smile when I see a 70-year-old sporting a full ensemble from Diesel. It’s only trumped by an octegenarian in Abercrombie & Fitch.

I don’t have any pictures of the older “fashionistas” because I’m still trying to hone my stealthy photographer skills, but I’m sure you can imagine.

Since moving here, I’ve noticed many other cultural differences and while they are amusing, I also know it’s a part of our goal in coming to Norway. We wanted to expand our view of the world and ourselves in it as well as help our kids appreciate different perspectives. I’m not sure how bathroom doors and boxed wine play into that goal, but hey, it’s a start, right?



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