I am going to visit my friend Maria again tonight, I am really looking forward to it - as I promised before I shall take my camera as she lives with her family in the most gorgeous house, and in a lovely garden with an amazing view and also some very handsome cats!
I like to be there, there is always good food and good conversation - with good people. It reminds me a little of visiting Hans family as it's always so warm and welcoming. Both are perfect examples of Norwegian social gatherings and hospitality, so I think some photos and a post about it tomorrow will be in order, it's definately something I want to capture; for myself when I go home and for others to read...maybe in particular those who don't know much about Norway, I hope for those people it will enlighten you somewhat. Now I am by no means an expert, but my general observations and opinions are as follows...
For a start, some people don't know anything about Norway, for example SO many people have said things like; "so Becky, when are you moving to Sweden?", or "are you going back to Sweden for Christmas then, Hans?" (but that's actually pretty funny, if only to see the look on his face) I don't blame people - of course if you don't know much about something, then by default you will be somewhat ignorant on the subject. People just need to learn that every scandinavian is not Swedish by default
The only thing that does annoy me is small mindedness that people stubbornly refuse to solve in themselves, like when people cry
"why on EARTH do you want to live in Norway - it's freezing all the time and they don't have the sun there"
"actually Norway is pretty huge and has a vastly diverse climate, i think it only really gets like that in the north"
"I saw it on a documentary though..."
"yes, but I have BEEN there, and trust me - it's pretty much the same weather as England in the south" (except probably slightly better)
They just look at me all troubled as if to say, 'why are you lying?'
The worst I have had is stupid statements like 'Norway is depressing - everyone kills themselves' - that just doesn't even justify my efforts to argue with them, I just wait and hope that Darwins Law does the world a favour.
The second thing (and Norwegians are the first to admit this) is the infamous repuatation for being reserved and difficult to get to know - obviously it doesn't go for everyone, but in my opinion that has some truth to it; Hans was (sorry angel!) extremely hard work to get to know, as are many people that I do meet - BUT once you do get to know them they are the warmest, most welcoming and loyal people you could ever meet (as is Hans to me - the best friend I have ever had and the most genuine and warm person)
And this is what I am getting at (finally!) after considering this quite alot and after discussions with various people, I decided on this as actually being one of the things I love about Norway and not a bad thing at all - I myself am quite reserved, and particularly when I first meet people I am very shy. I have never been a fan of gushing out compliments for the sake of it and getting to know someone fast on the basis of falseness, so it suits me perfectly. After all, in any situation anywhere what relationships are more worth having? what will you get the most out of? someone you have taken the time to get to know, and of whom you are sure about their intentions and loyalty - of course! for me anyway... some people thrive on having hundreds of fickle relationships, but lets not get into that.
Everbody is different and unique personally, each culture and country has their own traits which make them who they are - and I wouldn't change it for the world... well, it is the world!
Just as an end note to my post which somehow turned into a mini rant, I had a similar conversation with my friend Yvonne, who is Finnish. We were talking of the (very general) scandinavian inability to give and receive compliments well, and she said 'oh yes, it's a character trait - it's the 'Jantelagen' or in English, 'Jante Law' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jante_Law and as Yvonne put it, a 'must know' for people visiting scandinavia!