What is my experience in Oslo, Norway?

My niece, who studies in Italy, asked me – for a school assignment on the city of Oslo – if I could write a little about my personal experience. I thought it might be useful to others too, so I’ll bring it back here.
NB. I tried to focus on the positive aspects, because every country also has the negative ones 🙂

In 2016 I moved with my family to Oslo, Norway, where professionals like mine, a software developer, are in great demand and appreciated.
The purpose of the transfer was to acquire an economic and social stability, both for me and for my partner and her daughter, which was no longer possible in Italy.

There are many aspects that we enjoyed in Norway.
For example, children are very protected (directly by the constitution): on May 17 – the day on which the Norwegian constitution is celebrated – all the children gather in a parade (barnetog) and are celebrated. In Oslo, the King greets all the children from his terrace.

Schools are free, no tuition fees, free books and in high school you are even given a laptop on loan for free. Everyone has the right to basic education, up to graduation.

Although the Norwegian economy is very dependent on oil, Norwegians are very sensitive about nature. Oslo was also awarded the “Greenest European Capital in 2019” award

Thanks to the proceeds from oil extraction, which in Norway unlike Italy are in the hands of the state, the Norwegian state has created the largest investment fund in the world, worth 10,000 billion euros. This money is used to guarantee one of the best welfare systems in the world.

Corruption is an almost non-existent phenomenon and not accepted by society. At school, for example, it is not accepted to “copy”, and you can be expelled (or have you cancel an exam with a ban for 6 months) for very little.

In Norway there are 3 official languages:
1- bokmål: “the Norwegian of books”, de facto language, spoken by the population during the Danish and Swedish occupation, the main language of Oslo,
2- nynorsk: “the new Norwegian”, a language created at the table to cut with the past of the Danish-Swedish occupation, created by collecting the distinctive terms of the Norwegian dialects, the main language of the west coast (Bergen, Stavanger)
3- the Sami (spoken mainly by the Sami people), an ethnic group that is now protected after the attempts at “westernization” of the 1950s, the dark period of Norwegian “democracy”. Since 1993 the Sami have celebrated their “birthday” on February 6.

In schools both languages ​​are studied up to middle school, then from high school we specialize only on one of your choice.
Furthermore, the many dialects are seen as a cultural richness, unlike Italy where unfortunately they are seen as an indication of a low cultural level, and everyone is proud to speak their own. This entails many difficulties for us foreigners in learning the language and integrating into society. Fortunately, they are very tolerant of foreigners, and appreciate the effort to learn their language.

In Norway, however, the majority of the population has a high command of English, which is also spoken fluently by children. This is also very useful for tourists and in the professional sphere, which makes it easier to introduce a large number of foreigners (like me). I personally have worked with people from: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Poland, Serbia, Morocco, Iran, Belarus, and others.

My experience is very positive, as – among many things – in the professional sphere I am highly respected, I have a great salary, flexible hours, constant free training, and free coffee in the office 🙂 Ah, in the office it is normal to see children: yes, in case of need (for example the kindergarten is closed for holidays) it is possible to take the children to the office (but also to the cash desk at the supermarket!) in such a way as not to create discomfort.

In the summer, you can hike the mountains surrounding Oslo, swim on the fjord, or take a ferry and picnic on one of the nearby islands.
All by public transport: the monthly pass includes buses, trains, trams and ferries in the Oslo area!
The car is not essential here, and indeed the government / municipality policy is to try to ban access to petrol or diesel cars in the near future.
For this reason, electric cars are very widespread, thanks also to a very low cost of electricity compared to Italy. For example in Norway the domestic use of gas is prohibited, and we use electric plates (induction).

What about water? thanks to the Norwegians’ great respect for nature, we have practically pure water from the tap.
A scientific curiosity: here it is possible to extinguish a fire due to a short circuit with water (which is an insulator), which is not possible in Italy (due to the conductive metals present in the water, which would worsen the situation).

How can we complain that the standard of living in Norway is very high, and the happiness index is among the highest in the world? (in 2020 5th position, Italy 30th)

I hope I have been helpful in making this city better known, but also in raising awareness that one day we may all be foreigners, as King Harald V of Norway (also a foreigner) said in a public speech on September 1st. 2016, which immediately went viral:

“Norwegians come from North Norway, Central Norway, Southern Norway – and all of the other regions. Norwegians have immigrated from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Poland, from Sweden, Somalia and Syria. My grandparents came here from Denmark and England 110 years ago.

It is not always easy to say where we are from, what nationality we are. Home is where our heart is – and that cannot always be confined within national borders.

Norwegians are young and old, tall and short, able-bodied and wheelchair users. More and more people are over 100 years old. Norwegians are rich, poor and in-between. Norwegians like football and handball, mountain climbing and sailing – while others prefer lounging on the sofa.

Some are self-confident, while others struggle to believe they are good enough as they are.

Norwegians work in shops, in hospitals, on offshore platforms. Norwegians work to keep us safe and secure, to keep our country free of pollution and to find new solutions for a green future. Norwegians farm the land and catch fish. Norwegians do research and teach.

Norwegians are enthusiastic young people – and wise old people. Norwegians are single, divorced, families with children, and old married couples. Norwegians are girls who love girls, boys who love boys, and girls and boys who love each other.

Norwegians believe in God, Allah, the Universe and nothing.

Norwegians like Grieg and Kygo, the Hellbillies and Kari Bremnes.

In other words: Norway is you.

Norway is us.

When we sing “Ja, vi elsker dette landet” (‘Yes, we love this country’), we should remember that we are also singing about each other. Because we are this country. Thus, our national anthem is also a declaration of love for the Norwegian people.

My greatest hope for Norway is that we will be able to take care of one another.

That we will continue to build this country – on a foundation of trust, fellowship and generosity of spirit. “

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