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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Race, and other awkward moments, in Norway

Norway has been homogeneous for most of its history, save for the last fifty years when immigration has steadily increased.

For the most part, things run smoothly here and there is very little negative interactions.  However, as is the case virtually all over the planet, certain *ahem* stereotypes still exist.  Which leads to awkward moments...

For example, the other day I was taking the trykk and, as so often happens, it was packed and I was the only non-ethnic Norwegian in the section.  The overhead automated announcement, which usually just mumbles the next destination, does so and also issues a cryptic message to "be weary of pickpockets".

I know some of you readers will think I was imagining this, but about a dozen pairs of eyes immediately turned in my direction with suspicion.

I usually try to smile or pretend to be oblivious, but I'm not.

Here, however, is an interesting aside and difference from most of the world.  While the same situation would/does happen in every other corner of the globe, here in Norway the situation completely changes when one simple fact is introduced.

I start speaking English.

I can't tell you how many times I've been in stores, restaurants, and other settings in addition to public transport and by merely speaking my native tongue, I go from being just another dark skinned foreigner to an American.  For the most part, those that ignored me reach out and attempt to connect with me.  Frowns become smiles.  Looks of contempt become curious questions.  It is really an astounding transformation.

Though, don't get it twisted, I'm still an outsider.

Norwegians are very proud... Of their culture, country, and, secretly, themselves.  They want to know how I find their country because they know everything about mine and, naturally, find their homeland superior.  It's reassuring to have an outside person collaborate those thoughts.  Aldous Huxley once wrote "Philosophy is the finding of reason and proof what one naturally believes off instinct.


- Norway can be cost-prohibitive... It cost me 100 USD to obtain the following items: 6 trips on the public transportation, a frozen pizza, 3 liters (101 ounces... or 8.5 American beer cans) of beer, and a haircut.  My haircut is fresh, btw

- Russ season, like escobar season, has returned.  The kids are out in their red, blue, black, and green overalls.  The ID checks for beer have increased.

- I just found out that Iggy Azalea is white... that has nothing to do with anything, just thought that I should mention


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