FAQ for Norway in English

What cultural differences should I be aware of? 

Norway has a democratic working life, with a flat structure. The authorities are there to help you. It is not dangerous to ask questions to the authorities in Norway, but you must follow the rules and regulations.

More information
Here are some statements that describe cultural characteristics in Norway, which are collected from the website links below:

  • Research shows that Norwegian society has unusually high levels of trust.
  • Norway is considered to be a world leader when it comes to gender equality, with many measures taken to redress imbalances.
  • The Norwegian approach to work/life balance emphasize the value of free time rather than giving high status to those working long hours.
  • Norwegians tend to value safety and security above all else, likely a result of developing as an agrarian society in tough conditions.
  • Over 70% of people are members of the Protestant Church of Norway which happens automatically(!) at birth if one of their parents is a member.
  • Norway has allowed same-sex registered partnerships since 1993. Actual same-sex marriage became legal in 2009.
  • Norway is more diverse than many expect, with over half a million immigrants from Europe and beyond, making up 1/3 of Oslo’s population.
  • Labor unions are strong in Norway. Around one in four are a member of a union. Parties on the left receive heavy financing from unions.
  • Norway is among the countries with the lowest level of income inequality in the world, despite also being one of the richest overall.
  • There is little personal touching in public in Norway unless you are a really close friend or a member of the family, and even then, touching is kept to a minimum. A hearty handshake in greeting is expected, but a kiss is not.
  • Norwegians view themselves as ‘egalitarian’ and their culture is based on mutual respect and interdependence. They do not puff themselves with individual achievements, and they have simple tastes. The Jante Law attitude may be a bit dated but is still found in many places in Norway. The Jante Law as a concept was created by author Aksel Sandemose and it states:
    • You shall not think you are special.
    • You shall not believe you are smarter than others.
    • You shall not believe you are wiser than others.
    • You shall not behave as if you are better than others.
    • You shall not believe that you know more than others.
    • You shall not believe that you can fix things better than others.
    • You shall not laugh at others.
    • You shall not believe that others care about you.
    • You shall not believe that you can teach others anything.

In modern-day Norway, this law is no longer considered modern and just used as tongue in cheek, but its basics survive. It should give immigrants quite a clear idea of what is expected of you in Norway.

Some links for more information about cultural differences: https://www.meganstarr.com/30-things-you-should-know-before-moving-to-norway/

or here https://medium.com/@sethpiper_/100-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-norway-ba152cb91082

or here https://www.tripsavvy.com/things-to-avoid-while-in-norway-1626518