Life in Norway

Begin speaking Norwegian right away and don't hesitate to walk up to people and try speaking with them in Norwegian because many of them won't just wander up to you. Norwegian people are very reserved and you need to be confident and take the first step. Nicole from OH, Year Program
Bring long underwear and warm clothes you can wear under your normal clothes as well as over. Even if you´re from a cold climate, you´ll have to walk so much in Norway that you´ll be colder than you might expect. They don’t heat their houses or schools as well as we do, either. Acacia from AK, Year Program
Norwegians won't try and get to know you, you need to make an effort to try to make friends, especially at the beginning of the year. Norwegians are much more willing to get to know you if you speak Norwegian to them. They may seem cold at first, but are very friendly once you get to know them. Isla from OR, Year Program
Try to only speak in Norwegian, and resist the temptation to speak English. Norwegians are almost all near fluent in English and if you don’t tell them from the beginning that you only want to speak Norwegian, you´ll never learn it. Acacia from AK, Year Program
Norwegian families in general give more freedom to their children than American families. Students in Norway are also given more freedom, less homework and more big tests in school than American students. Graham from CA, Year Program
Remember, if people don’t seem enthusiastic and don´t smile to you, do not take it personally; it’s just the culture not to show enthusiasm to any large degree. Once you break through the icy exterior, though, Norwegians are some of the warmest people I´ve ever known.Acacia from AK, Year Program
Remember your basic manners. Norwegians aren't afraid to call you out on them. Erick from CT, Year Program
Norwegian teenagers dress nicer at school than they do in the US, but save the shopping until after you get there and have started school, since the styles are very different there. Acacia from AK, Year Program
Culture values were very different, especially concerning use of time, transportation, and money. Norwegians walk, bike, or take the bus everywhere, and never drive unless absolutely necessary. Acacia from AK, Year Program
Also, they are much more relaxed about time than we are, and set a large amount of time aside for relaxing and doing nothing. With American "time is money" values, this was probably the hardest thing to adjust to. Acacia from AK, Year Program
School, also, was a shock to me in terms of how relaxed they were. Deadlines didn’t mean much, but the grading system was harsher. Acacia from AK, Year Program
People spent a lot more money and shopped a lot more than I thought was normal and teen drinking wasn’t a big deal. A lot of American "taboo topics" were openly talked about, and nobody ever gossiped. Acacia from AK, Year Program

Digging Deeper

Language Resources
Cultural Resources
News and Media
Movies and Documentaries
  • Max Manus: Man of War (2008)
  • Magic Silver (2009)
  • Oslo, August 31st (2011)
  • Hocus Pocus Alfie Atkins (2013)
  • Kon-Tiki (2012)
  • Pathfinder (1987)
  • The Wave (2015)
  • Kitchen Stories (2004)
  • Edward Much: Special Edition (1974)
Books
  • Norwegian Folk Tales (1920)
  • Jorgen Moe (1813)
  • Happy Times in Norway (1942)
  • Snow Treasure (1942)
  • Hunger(1890)
  • Through the Night (2013)
  • Sophie’s World (1991)
  • The Ice Palace (1963)
  • The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas (1948)
  • I Curse the River of Time (2008)
  • History of Norway (2015)
LGBTQ Resources (Diversity) Heritage and Ethnicity Resources (Diversity)
Note: The links and resources listed in "Digging Deeper" have been provided to AFS by people involved with our organization, including alumni members, volunteers, etc. AFS has not reviewed the resources in their entirety and presents them "as is" for your own information. As such, the sites, publications, films, etc. do not necessarily reflect the approval of nor the views, opinions, and/or values of AFS.