Posted by: Sarah | September 20, 2010

6 Things That Frustrate Me About Norway

It’s been nearly 18 months since Eliot and I moved to Norway.  It’s gone so quickly yet it’s enough time to know there are some things that frustrate us about the country.  Here’s our list!

  1. Salt:  Not only do the Norwegians swap the pepper and salt pots around but they also like salty flavours…in particular salty liquorice.  I’ve been told that they’ve even started adding it to chocolate!  You can now buy Freia chocolate with added salt – so wrong!
  2. Car Indicators:  Driving around Oslo is an experience in itself with all the trams, buses, bikes and cars.  However, you need to develop a sixth sense in Norway because whilst all cars are equipped with indicators, quite often they are not used.  Especially on roundabouts.
  3. Queuing:  If you try to board any mode of public transport in Oslo be prepared to push and shove you’re way on.  Queuing isn’t a technique often used in Norway.  So much so that in banks, post offices and even some shops/cafes you have to collect a little printed number and sit to wait for your turn.    
  4. November:  This is officially, for me, the worst month of the year.  The clocks have just gone back, the darkness has set in and it’s bitterly cold outside.   The rest of the winter is okay…once the snow arrives everything brightens up but November…it’s the worst. 
  5. Fit People:  Fitness is in the DNA of every Norwegian.  Everyone does something to keep fit – run, cycle, swim, speed skate, ski, salsa, ballet, zumba (my Norwegian friends will relate to this!).  It’s great that I live in such a health conscious society but constantly being surrounded by fit people does lay the pressure on a little.
  6. Prices:  I couldn’t leave it out – 18 months in and we still say “How much????” so whilst we’re not over it, we are learning to live with it. 


  1. Hi Sarah

    Just read your post about things which frustrate you about Norway and we recognised them all!

    We’ve been living in Nøtterøy for 16 months and prior to that, 6 months in Sandefjord. We live with our 2 collie crosses, Ted and Bracken and our two teenagers Lauren and Craig aged 16.5 and 15. They go to Skagerak International School in Sandefjord.

    We wholeheartedly agree with the salt thing. Everything is overloaded. I still can’t get used to the fact that we don’t have butchers shops where you can buy chicken without all the gooey seasoning which I invariably have to wash off!

    Queuing! I was appalled when I got on my first public transport bus when there was a large amount of people waiting. They pushed and shoved which I thought very rude at the time, but am used to it now! We’ve got used to the take a ticket routine now!

    We can’t get used to the rain! When it rains, it forgets to stop. The weather pattern is very weird here and it’s a bit like having four seasons in one day! I don’t like the dark winter nights as it can become quite depressing. We are determined to have a go at cross country skiing this winter. Last year, we were running out of places to stockpile the snow. We had 8ft snow embankments!

    In one sense, I agree with you about the Norwegians keeping fit, but I’ve never come across so many smokers. Surely keeping fit and not smoking should be more the order of the day? We have to laugh at the amount of people who sit outside smoking in the dead of winter, huddled up with blankets and wall radiatiors.

    It’s always such a shock when we return to the UK. Everything seems so cheap and for the booze………!!! It makes our hearts bleed! Suffice to say, anyone coming to visit must rattle with all their duty free! We still say how much? But what can you do – we do live here after all and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

    • Hi Donna – great to hear from you again. Didn’t realise you were living in Nøtterøy – thought you were still in Sandefjord. I agree with you on the weather – it changes so quickly and we all know what’s about to arrive…dark, wet, cold November. I’m trying to twist Eliot’s arm about travelling somewhere hot in November but he doesn’t have much holiday left. That’s true about the smoking too! If not smoking they use snus – I must write a post about snus!

  2. Hei Hei

    An impulse itinerary change resulting 10 days in Oslo in early September and I’m in love with the place and am convinced I want to move there.. am I crazy? :D

    Salt – can’t say I noticed? My mate is one of those “annoying” fit people that ate pretty healthily LOL so over-seasoning wasn’t an issue.

    Car Indicators – just like home! Perth drivers are awful! Especially around roundabouts! But we are blessed with VERY wide lanes.

    Queuing – that was a bit of a shock, given the “order” that seemed to be Oslo, the shoving was ehh unexpected! The take a ticket system’s brilliant though :) gotta love it!

    Fit People – Totally! The natives are a fit looking bunch! I don’t recall seeing anywhere close to the multitude of fat people as back here at home. I get that larger doesn’t always equate unfit, but most people I’d met LIVED at least one sport.

    November – Same but in reverse on this hemisphere I suppose, it’s the month where it temperatures are steadily creeping upwards toward the 40s.. and it’s just feels HOT ALL THE TIME.

    Prices – Yeah, “HOW MUCH”? I think Oslo helped curb my cafe coffee addiction :D

    Loved that I chanced upon your blog, it’s making my night/morning – settling back into GMT +8 after almost 3 months in Europe is proving.. challenging.

    • Thanks for your great comments – they did make me laugh and how lucky you were to have an unprompted stop in Norway. Not many folks make this far north when they come to Europe and it’s such a shame because it’s such a beautiful country. Loved your comment about the cafe culture…it does exist but at £6 a cup you can’t afford an addiction :-) You’re not crazy to want to move here. We have a couple of friends from the southern hemisphere (Aussie and Kiwi) and I said the same to them about leaving the lovely warm weather to live up here in the cold north but they just love it. I guess because it’s such an outdoors lifestyle with so much to do – in both winter and summer. On the driving comment…this weekend we’re changing out tyres and I’ve decided that driving in Norway needs a post of its own so keep an eye out!

  3. I am from Norway but have lived 7 years in London and 5 years in Sydney.
    I always think that people in UK and Oz don’t use their indicators and think to myself: This would never happen in Norway!!
    Ha ha, it is funny how we get this idea that things are better at home. I think that if I ever move back to Norway I will soon come to realise that it is not the most perfect place in the world. I might have a rude awakening…especially in regards to the dark and cold winters.
    I enjoy reading this blog. :) Thanks!

    • Thanks for your comment and lucky you for living in Sydney. It’s so cold here at the moment, the sunshine sounds wonderful! I know what you mean about the indicators. My friend assures me that this is just an Oslo thing – apparently outside of Oslo people use their indicators correctly :-)

  4. All the same things drive me mad! but more than anything the lack of manners here drives me crazy! Nice to see your observations of this strange country we have moved to!

    • You’re right Lisa…I think I’m so used to it now I don’t notice as much. Perhaps I’m even losing my manners. I do have to be careful when I’m back in the UK…I just can’t help but shove my way onto the bus and train…Eliot calls it “sharp elbows”. It’s become natural! :-)

  5. ha ha ha ha! this made me laugh out loud. I moved over from the UK in 2010 and I still can’t get to grips with all the salt and lack of indictor use :-)

    • Hi Emma – glad it’s not just me :-)

  6. Hello Sarah,

    Great blog! Me and my other half are planning to move to Norway from London in a few month and I would love to ask you a couple of questions regarding the move that I could not find here. Is it OK to contact you somehow?

    Kind regards,

    • Sorry for the delay – been a bit manic. Sure, you can email me. Will send you an email privately so you have my address.

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