Norway Is Closed

2016_07_28_ closed_for_july

“We’re closed for the summer”


As July comes to an end you’ll notice some stores that have been closed for what may seem like ages, will throw open their doors, ready to welcome you back again. The construction site one street over will greet your still sleep weary brain with the dulcet sounds of drilling, digging and dynamiting.

Norwegians enjoy an almost silly amount of paid vacation time and it’s refreshing to see that a majority of people actually take it. In Canada most employees are entitled to two weeks vacation though it’s common for a lot of people to not take that time off from work. And from what I hear it’s even worse in the US.

So every year, come July, don’t be surprised to find your favourite store closed for a few weeks, or the painters you had hoped would slap a fresh coat on your house unavailable until early August.

It takes some getting used to but I’m happy it’s the norm here.

Where Am I Again?

I saw her across the street, walking briskly past the empty store. She seemed familiar. Although she had large sunglasses on I could swear I knew her. Her hair, her gait and the way she held herself strongly upright, no hint of a slouch. So familiar yet so hard to place. As she turned the corner I finally made the connection. Or so I thought.

When I moved to Norway from Canada I expected to have to get used to things being a bit different. Shopping at stores that didn’t have quite the exact items I wanted. Feeling a bit disoriented while walking about in a new (to me) town. Sounding clumsy when attempting a new language.

What I didn’t expect was to occasionally feel a brief instant of not being able to pin down where I knew someone from.

Not in the sense of were they someone I actually knew versus someone who only looked like someone I knew. I mean in the sense of what continent did I know them from.



It can be a bit harrowing at the best of times when you’re approaching someone on the street and you’re wondering if you should give them a quick wave or will they think you’re a bit batty. Who is this stranger waving at me?

It’s a completely different feeling when you can’t even place which country you may or may not know this person from.

I wonder if there’s a an actual word for that feeling.

Anybody else experience this? It can’t just be me, can it?

Norwegian Reading List

I love books. I love walking into a bookstore and wandering about the aisles, the smell of books, and the feel of a physical book as I make my way through its pages. While it’s always been a pleasure to lose myself in a story for hours on end I can’t say the same thing for when I’ve tried to tackle reading a book in Norwegian. The going is slow and at times I skip over large chunks of type simply because I don’t want to take the time to fetch a dictionary and try and figure out what’s happening. But still, over the last couple of years, I’ve been picking up books in Norwegian at the bookstore, at the Salvation Army store and other used stores. Compiling a stack (a small one) that I hope will inspire me to keep trying. I try to find books that I’ve already read in English as I think knowing the story beforehand will help with the translating as I go. That’s not always easy but I’m always on the lookout. If anyone knows where to find Norwegian versions of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series I’d be very much grateful.

Books in Norwegian

Books from left to right are:

  • Harry Potter og Ildbegeret (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) – J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter og Fangen Fra Azkaban (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) – J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter og De Vises Stein (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) – J. K. Rowling
  • Morder Uten Ansikt/Hundene I Riga (Faceless Killers/The Dogs of Riga) – Henning Mankell
  • De Levende Døde (Pet Sematary) – Stephen King
  • Steppevandringen (The Plains of Passage) – Jean M. Auel
  • Det Brennende Landet (The Burning Land) – Bernard Cornwell
  • Menn Som Hater Kvinner (Men Who Hate Women, better known as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) – Stieg Larsson
  • Den Hvite Løvinnen (The White Lioness) – Henning Mankell
  • Frelseren (The Redeemer) – Jo Nesbø
  • Bridget Jones’ Dagbok (Bridget Jones’ Diary) – Helen Fielding

I’ve read the English version of six of these books so, in theory, I shouldn’t have that much trouble getting through the Norwegian versions. And I’d like to say that I resolve to make my way through half this stack by the end of the year but resolutions and me don’t get along too well.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go see what a certain young wizard is getting up to…

8 Things I Miss From Canada

Living in a different country to the one you grew up in is challenging at times. You’re away from your family and friends. Your job, if you manage to find one, may be completely different to what you had studied or trained for. You may live somewhere where just being understood and understanding those around you is a daily struggle.

And then there are the little things. Did you know it’s virtually impossible to find a large box of baking soda here in my little, but very picturesque, part of Norway?


8 Things I Miss From Canada:

  1. Milk in Bags

Not cartons or jugs but bags. It seems to be a uniquely Canadian thing.

  1. Dollar Stores

I am a note taker, a jotter down of ideas, and a perpetual list maker. All this scribbling requires notebooks, notepads, and little sticky notes I can pop on and around my computer screen. I recently bought 3 notebooks here in town at a bookstore for about the equivalent of $6 CAD each. I fondly remember the days when I could have picked up more than a dozen notebooks for the same price I paid for three.

  1. Large Boxes of Baking Soda.

I used to be able to walk into most any grocery store in Canada and buy a 2 kg box of baking soda. Not that I do that much baking to justify such a massive box but it does come in handy when a cleaning mood strikes and I want to scrub without surrounding myself with toxic chemicals and fumes.

  1. Detailed Transit Maps

This could be a quirk of the town I live in but while you can look up bus stop locations, bus times and plan out when and where to catch a particular bus to a particular destination you cannot look up a detailed map of the whole local transit system.

  1. Coupons

Oh the days of clipping coupons and getting a good deal on razor blades, how I miss you so. Norway is expensive and coupons are pretty much non-existent. It’s taken a bit of adjusting to say the least.

  1. Big City Bustle

It’s not even the bustle I miss. I miss the ROM (The Royal Ontario Museum). And though at times would purposely avoid walking down certain parts of it, I miss Yonge Street. I miss being able to walk down the posh section of Bloor Street and wonder if I had the means, would I partake of all the over the top goodies on display in the store windows. I miss being close to a large city.

  1. Walmart

I know they’re a big, evil corporation but I miss being able to walk in and buy shampoo, underwear, bread, slippers, a usb stick and an assortment of sand paper all in one place. Don’t judge.

  1. Cheap Books and Huge Bookstores

You know the feeling of walking into a large bookstore and breathing a contented sigh, knowing that for the next few hours you’ll be immersed in the smell and feel of new books? Slowly wandering about the aisles, your eyes flitting over colourful covers and spines waiting for something to catch your eye? I remember it well. Books here are expensive so budgeting or even finding something you like can be a chore.

If you now find yourself living in a different country either temporarily or permanently, what things do you miss?

A Sign of Fluency?

I’ve yet to reach the point where I can seamlessly switch from speaking English to speaking Norwegian. Where I can confidently answer and chat in the language of the country I now call home. Speaking Norwegian, for me, still takes effort, thought and time. In one language I can express my thoughts and feelings fully and in a myriad of ways, injecting humour and a sense of myself in every sentence. In the other I feel constricted, fumbling around trying to pick out the appropriate word and trying not to sound like a toddler. Feeling incredibly self conscious when I do put in the effort doesn’t help one bit.

"That moment when you start to think in two languages at the same time"

“That moment when you start to think in two languages at the same time”

I do find moments where the words come to me, when I know exactly what to say and how to say it. When I know my thoughts are fully formed with words that occasionally include the letter Æ, Ø or Å. And it’s a fantastic feeling but those moments still don’t occur often enough.

Other than in some of my dreams.

I’ve woken up several times in the past year from a dream where the words flowing out of my mouth were not English. And not just in dribs and drabs, a short phrase here and there. Oh no. It was a full on torrent of ideas, thoughts and feelings. A roaring waterfall of words flooding out of me. Though I never remember what I had been saying, there is no doubt I had been speaking fluently in Norwegian. Or at least what my dreaming mind considers to be Norwegian.

One of my Norwegian language teachers had said that when you start to dream in a foreign language that’s when you really begin to integrate the language into your everyday life.  A sure sign of fluency. Not sure what it means if in my dreams I’m speaking some kind of dreamland, made up Norwegian which may or may not actually make any kind of sense or bear any kind of resemblance to the actual language.

Has anybody else experienced this? Have you started to dream in the language you’re learning? And did it make sense in your dream?