30 January 2019

To Beer or Not to Beer in Norway

The Nearby Norwegians have never been accused of "living in the past."  But, like all good historians, we surely do to some degree.  It is in our nature to be curious about the past.  We are also very curious about the places our ancestors came from.  That is why I found it refreshing when I came across this website:  Life in Norway.  Offering regular e-mail postings from Norway Weekly, podcasts and more, the site asserts that "whether you're living in Norway, planning a trip, or just fascinated by Scandinavian culture, this is [...] for you.  Well, count me in, at least on the third point.

Moskenes, Norway

The website contains information on moving to Norway, as well as addressing various concerns once you get there:  work, jobs, learning Norwegian, personal finance, housing, education, and driving.  Are you interested in getting a credit card after your move to Norway?  This site has helpful facts and even comparisons between various cards.  What about life there in general?  Sources listed include ideas on food and drink, businesses, daily life, expat blogs, and how to satisfy your daily news cravings once in Norway. 

Perhaps you're all set to travel through the country, train ticket in hand.  You can click on the "Explore Norway" link, which will take you to various options, including the fjords to the cities of Stavanger, Tronhdeim, Lofoten, and more.  And, let's not forget culture.  Most people's common knowledge of Norway from around the world stems from the country's old mythology (trolls, Viking tales, and more Norse gods than Thor can shake a stick at!)  You can read all about these topics and also consult the website for ideas on Norwegian books, music, sports, television, and even the history and people of Norway.

Although I will never live in Norway, I can still dream.  I find it fascinating how the culture of my Norwegian-American ancestors meshes with today's tendencies.  One of the articles entitled "The Cost of Living in Norway" expounds on just how expensive it might be to live or travel in modern Norway ("Does a beer really cost $12"?)  Many foods and amenities that current day Scandinavians have become accustomed to must be imported, leading to increased cost.  The price of fresh fish and salmon is less than in many other countries, however.  I doubt that my ancestors worried about the price of a beer, since they did not drink it.  They also caught salmon and fish straight from the river that flowed alongside their farms, while vegetables and fruits were either gathered or grown, then preserved.  Today's prices do not equate to the lives of Norwegians in past centuries, even though they do result in some pretty pronounced sticker shock for current visitors and new immigrants.

According to Life in Norway, the country does an excellent job of handling the transition to an aging population.  By 2020, experts predict that 20% of Earth's population (about two billion), will be elderly.  Norway places at the top of the Ageing Society Index.  If you are a senior, Norway probably seems like a pretty friendly place.  How does the United States fare in this category?  (Hint:  not nearly as well.)  But, perhaps the Ageing Society Index does not take into account the effect of those cold and dark Nordic winters, which take their toll even on young people.  In particular, icy walking paths and elderly bones do not mix!

Instead of thinking about packing up my suitcase and heading to Norway for a rewarding retirement, even if I could, I will continue to take pleasure in studying the culture, albeit from afar.  It is no different from what I have been doing for many years as a family historian.  I love Norway... even more so, I love the idea of Norway.  But, I will stick with my familiar gray, soggy but safe Pacific Northwest winters, and enjoy researching Norway from the comfort of my own home, while enjoying my (what feels like) $12 Starbucks.

Chery Kinnick

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