Jun 6, 2011

Follow up: May 17th

It's a little late (nearly a month) but I thought i'd quickly post up some pictures of 17th may around the world :)
you don't have to be in Norway to celebrate, there was celebrations in Australia, Singapore, America and even Brasil!

May 16, 2011

May 17 - Norwegian National Day

Syttende mai (17th of May) is nearly upon us, in other words, Norwegian National Day!
This is probably one of (if not the) biggest days in Norway, filled with parades and alcohol, flags and food. It celebrates the signing of the Constitution of Norway on May 17, 1814. It is the second oldest single-document constitution in the world (and first in Europe). In Oslo, the parades go past the Royal Palace where Norwegians see the King (Harald V) and the Queen (Sonja) of Norway.
Children's parade in front of the Royal Palace in Oslo
The day is primarily focused by parades, though typically has no military marches, the parades are citizens, dressed in the national outfit (the bunad) and waving Norwegian flags. Marching bands play music and the National and Royal anthems (Ja, vi elsker dette landet and Kongesangen respectively) are usually sung, childrens marches tend to occur in the morning followed by speeches, and so on. There is even a march from the Royal Guard. The celebrations can go all day, with vendors selling food along the street for the hungry Norwegians running around waving flags all day.

The day is commonly ended with family celebrations, sometimes including the extended family, for large dinners and perhaps, drinking. It is a big celebration and some towns have their own changes to the celebrations, but one thing you can be sure of is that Norwegian flags will be present everywhere.
I told you it was a big day

Apr 23, 2011


As you may or may not know, Russ is coming up. For those who don't know, it typically starts around the 1st of May (with many preparing earlier, by spending 1.5 million kroner on a bus) and ends on Norwegian National day (which will have a separate post) on the 17th of May. You probably have somewhat similar celebrations in your own country, but nothing can compare to Russ. Everyone gets dressed up in colours, overalls, and hats, usually with a certain colour dictating their area of further study (the most common is usually red - referring to higher education). I suppose this is not enough to set Russ apart from other high school graduation celebrations however, but what does is that Russ (an interesting word, both singular in referring to the celebration, and plural in referring to Russ - the students that are attending Russ) has many traditions, quirks, and of course, as you saw in the link above, buses, vans, cars and so on decorated with Norwegian colours, Russ colours and usually decked out with lighting, sound systems, TV's and who knows what else. A lot of effort can be put into a russebuss.

There is many other parts both during Russ and leading up to it that make it an event like no other in the world, typical of a high school graduation celebration of course, there is lots of alcohol, sex, loud music and everything else you can imagine. There is too much to type about here, so i'll provide some links, some pictures, and some quick dot points on the interesting bits about Russ celebrations...

  • Russ make "russekort" (russ cards) which are fake business cards, usually funny, offensive, and anything in between, which they hand out to eachother, and pretty much anyone that asks. They also commonly get asked by kids for their Russ cards, which previously led to some parents having issues, so now some Russ carry around 2 sets, a kids set and a more vulgar 'real' set (though I haven't seen this myself, I've also never checked).  I might get some examples later and post them up.
  • Russ are traditionally required to wear their russ outfit for the entire 1st-17th, without removing them, cleaning them etc etc. except for sleeping. As you can imagine, it smells after a while, with so much drinking, dancing, sweating etc. 
  • an interesting thing about Russ are Russknuter, which are items (usually useless miscellaneous items) which are tied into a tassel on the russ hats, from doing different tasks - I think this facebook group sums it up adequately, http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=67512513113 (some of these have received critisism every year, for being stupid, illegal, dangerous, etc. etc.) there is pretty much an infinite amount of russ knots. 
And now i can't be bothered coming up with anything else so, here's a wiki link and an aftenposten link and some pictures following:

A big russebuss
A good photo to show an example of the russ overalls and hat

As I'm sure you can imagine, there's tons of Russ pictures out there, you just have to look. Most of which are a little X rated to post here!

Mar 31, 2011

Norway? More like Snoreway!

(you'll have to forgive me for the spacing of images - I wasn't sure how to make it right, so rather than play with it just left it as is)

The other night I was with a friend who said "Why would anyone want to come to Norway, what's in Norway?"

And I suppose for some people cold dark winters and relatively mild short summers aren't their thing, along with many of the social and cultural aspects of Norway. There are many aspects about Norway some may not like, living here. For example, night life is not as big as it is in other countries, and all alcohol stores are state run, and close on Sundays and after certain times (meaning most people forward think it). To most people, Norway is probably boring. This happens to be an opinion offered by Norwegians themselves (possibly more than foreigners even), especially when it comes to Oslo, which many Norwegians apparently consider one of the most boring cities in Europe.

So, I suppose the point of this is to give some reasons to visit Norway...

 1. Geirangerfjorden:
Actually, just fjords in general. They are all around the entire Norwegian coastline, spanning many many kilometers, of dramatic, beautiful, untouched scenery. There is not many other countries where you will see as spectacular a sight as this.

2. Aurora Borealis and the Midnight Sun:
Norway is often called the "land of the midnight sun" though I'm unsure why, since you can experience this in all of the extreme North. Essentially, it is the time when the sun doesn't go below the horizon during the summer. Very beautiful, but I prefer what happens in the winter - Auroras. This is something of which you cannot describe which is amazing to see, and cannot be experienced in many other places.

3. Trondheim:
This is one of the best 'cities' in Norway, with some of the most amazing history, many old buildings and some of the best cultural things to see and do (and eat). Anyone visiting Norway should visit Trondheim.

4. Bryggen:
Bryggen in Bergen is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a part of 'old Bergen' along the wharf, with lots of preserved buildings, and lots of history. The city of Bergen itself is also worth an extended visit, as it has many museums, cafes and so on.

5. Flåmsbana:
The Flåm train line runs through multiple small towns in Norway, and is incredibly scenic, passing through steep mountains, with many breathtaking waterfalls and cliffs. It is a very popular tourist attraction, and for good reason. Such sites cannot be seen elsewhere.

6. Preikestolen:
Near the town of Stavanger, this is also a popular tourist attraction, and a national icon, of sorts. It is also called the pulpit rock in English, and overlooks the Lysefjord. It's a small hike up there, but the view is always worth it.

7. Vega Islands:
This is another UNESCO WHS in Norway. It is about halfway along the western coastline of Norway, North of Trondheim, and is a series of many small Islands, dotted with old fishing towns. Many of the towns in the area are very scenic, and the islands themselves are also very beautiful. There is many pictures of this area around, but I don't think any capture it well enough. My favorite part of the area is Lofoten (not quiet in the same location, but very nearby).

8. Vikings:
...and other viking-related things. Throughout Norway there is a lot of Viking history, many museums, many old stave churches, and remnants of the forefathers of the country. It is something which Norwegians are quiet proud of, and eager to show to visitors, and something which is deeply embedded in society and culture. It is also probably one of the main reasons most people would want to visit Norway, apart from the nature.

I suppose 9 & 10 would be Women and Food, respectively, but i'm too lazy to talk about that. Perhaps another time.

Mar 24, 2011

Libya, Japan, and Money

There is somewhat mixed feelings of the recent turmoil in Japan. While it is a devastating and ongoing crisis, which will probably have economic effects all around the world, a recent article suggests that Norway stands to benefit economically from this (greatly).

You see, the electricity that Japan supplies from it's nuclear reactors has to be replaced somehow, and in the short term the simplest way to do this is of course - natural gas. This is something that Norway (along with Russia, Ukraine, and other countries) have an abundance of. Apparently, Norway stands to earn an extra few billion US dollars from this.

On that same note, Norway has also offered aid to Japan, but last I heard hasn't actually sent any. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg had extended the offer of search and rescue teams, however it is essentially up to Japan to ask for the aid from Norway, before they will send it.

Recently however Norway has sent planes to Japan to bring tourists back home.

As for Libya, this is a situation that doesn't directly affect Norway economically, as it is hitting the fuel prices in other countries, in fact it will likely also benefit Norway (Libya is one of the 10 largest exporters in the world for crude oil, thus the prices have gone up, Norway has lots of oil - with increased prices Norway again stands to make lots of money from this).

However, Norway is more proactive on this particular issue. It has one of the biggest foreign aid budgets of any country, and is an active NATO/UN member. So in this particular case, the Norwegian military services are sending some planes to help enforce the no-fly zone in Libya, which to some people (particularly Americans who send planes into military operations all the time) this may not sound like a big deal. However, Norway has only used these planes (F16's) about three times in the last decade or so. So to Norway, it's kind of a big deal.

Feb 16, 2011


Svalbard is a place that's interested me a lot recently. It's an archipelago (this is a group of islands) that lies far north of Norway, about halfway to the North Pole.

Quick History:

One note is that most houses are company owned
It is generally said to be first discovered in the 1500's however some say Vikings discovered it as early as the 12th century. It wasn't until 1619; when the Dutch settlement of Smeerenburg, that more activity started occurring however. Over the next 200 years, Russians, Norwegians, French, British, Danish and Dutch explorers, fisherman and whalers all came and left, drawn generally by the seasonal fishing and whaling.

It wasn't until the late 1800's and early 1900's that a permanent, year round source of work arose, which was because of the discovery of coal reserves. Since by this time no country had actually claimed full sovereignty over this cluster of islands, Svalbard remained contested over, which resolved over the end of the first World War, resulting in the signing of the Spitsbergen Treaty in 1920. 

The Treaty:

This treaty granted full sovereignty to Norway, thus making the Islands a 'part' of Norway, however what is interesting is that the signers of this treaty grant the citizens of this country the same rights to land, living and work as a citizen of Norway. In other words, anyone whose home country has signed the treaty can go to live and work in Svalbard without any of the usual documentation you would require.

The population is only about 3000 people in the whole area, so despite anyone being able to live there, seems not many are drawn to the cold, harsh winters (-16 degrees, not including the wind chill!). The good thing about Svalbard is that it doesn't pay the same taxes as Norway does (since even Norway doesn't really have full control over the area) but the pay rates are about the same, meaning you can earn a lot of money there if you found a job.

While before, most employment was from Coal mining, this has dropped off in recent times, with the economy relying also on tourism, fishing, research (marine biology, arctic biology etc.). The average income is said to be about 20% higher than the average on mainland Norway (and considering Norway already has one of the highest average incomes in the world, this is fairly considerable).

The relationship between Svalbard, Spitsbergen and Longyearbyen:

Despite being so north, Svalbard has a fairly mild climate
This confuses some since the names are all long, and Norwegian. Svalbard is generally referring to the entire cluster of islands. Spitsbergen is the largest of all the islands, and Longyearbyen in the largest town, which resides on the largest island, Spitsbergen.

Some other interesting facts:

-The most common languages are Norwegian and Russian, however since anyone can move there, the area has many other smaller language groups as well.
-Svalbard is home to the Global Seed Vault
-Unlike on mainland Norway, where snowmobiles can only be ridden on marked tracks, in Svalbard snowmobiles can be ridden anywhere, and are considered the main way of transport during winter.
-It is illegal to leave the home without a rifle
-On that note, it is estimated there is as many as 6000 polar bears on the Islands (almost 3 times the population of humans) though others have estimated less, at 3000 bears.
-Longyearbyen is considered the worlds northernmost town. 

I recently read of someone who was applying for a work visa in Norway, but it was declined, and to reapply you cannot be in the EU/EEA area for 3 months, so he considered staying in Svalbard for the three months. Some would find this difficult, do you think you could live in a place like Svalbard?

Jan 29, 2011

Simple. Useful sentences

As always it's been a while, I'm pretty slack with posting.

This post will be giving some examples of questions that would be useful in Norway (mostly from a tourist point of view, rather than actually making conversation)

Below are 2 choices, A or B, one is where is, and one is How do I get to; the numbers following are words you can then fit in to both of these to complete the sentence. 

A. Where is...? - Hvor er...? (Vor ahr)

B. How do I get to...? Hvordan kommer jeg til...? (Vawr-dahn kohm-er yai till)

1. the toilet? - toalettet? (Too-ah-let-et)
2. a bus station? - en busstasjon? (ehn boos-stah-shawn)
3. the bus station? - busstasjonen?
4. a train station? - en togstasjon? (ehn tawg-stash-ohn)
5. the train station? - togstasjonen?
6. an airport?* - en flyplass? (ehn flea-plass)
7. the airport? - flyplassen?
8. a cafe? - en kafé? (pronounced the same as cafe in English) 
9. the hospital? - sykehuset? (suhk-eh-hoos-et)
10. this hotel? - dette hotellet** (deh-teh hoh-tell-et)

Karl Johans Gate is a busy street (Gate = street) in Oslo;
the university, parliament and royal palace are nearby.
"Hvordan kommer jeg til Karl Johans Gate?"
*since most places in Norway are only going to have one airport, you probably wouldn't say this very often, I included it mainly to show how 'en' remains the same whether it is 'an' or 'a' in English.
**regarding different dialects, I have also heard 'dette hotel' however in most cases we hope you know the name of your hotel, and can instead say "Hvor er [name of the hotel]?"

Other useful phrases:
Help! - Hjelpe! (yel-peh!)
Can you help me? - Kan du hjelpe meg? (Can doo yel-peh mai?)
I don't speak Norwegian - Jeg snakker ikke Norsk (Yai snak-er ik-keh Nor-shk)
I am from... - Jeg er fra... (Yai ar fra...)

When given directions:
Right - Høyre (Hoigh-rah)
Left - Venstre (Ven-strah)
Straight ahead - Rett fram
U-turn - U-sving (ooh-sving)

These sort of simple phrases are both good for the vocabulary, but also useful for tourists if something goes wrong, you can ask for help, ask for a hospital, or tell someone you aren't local and find someone who speaks English well (which won't be difficult). When traveling and asking for directions, it helps if you know the locations of some famous or popular building. In oslo, buildings like the National Theatre, Opera House, Royal Palace, University and Parliament House are all fairly well known and popular buildings. Unfortunately for getting directions, most of these except the Opera House are along Karl Johans Gate.

Stortinget, the Norwegian Parliament building.

Anyway, more next time (who knows when that might be)
Ha det!

Jan 19, 2011

Houses in Norway

It's probably the houses you see around Norway that often remind you you're in a different country.

Since Norway usually has a very cold temperature, houses must be built to certain "guidelines" in many places, so that they can handle the temperature changes, the snow, the rain and so on.

Usually, housing in Norway is considered a little expensive (That linked house is about 2.1 million kroner, 360k USD, which here isn't so bad, but some countries are a lot cheaper), and the high quality of building is the reason why. Houses almost everywhere must have double glazed windows and insulation as a bare minimum, otherwise the occupants would freeze in the winter!

One thing you will definitely notice in Norway is the lack of brick and stone buildings. They exist, but there isn't very many in most places. This is because the change in temperature from below freezing to more 'average' temperatures (anywhere from 10-30 degrees Celsius is common) results in the expansion and contraction of most stone, especially if it is wet from rain, thus the stone cracks and breaks apart, not lasting very long. In a way, this is a similar concept to how some parts of the Fjords formed.

Many houses are A-framed and have small windows, which were usually the ones made a little while ago. There are many modern houses in Norway with large double glazed windows (to keep the heat inside) and a more square frame and rooftop, like the one to the side. Houses are also commonly brightly painted, in White, Red, Yellow or Black (Hvit, Rødt, Gul eller Svart) though other colors are also seen.

Some of the black houses are actually painted in tar.

From a long time ago, houses were fairly simple, but got the job done. The grass is on the roof as a type of natural insulation, which was very common during Viking times.

Nowadays, like most countries you can find a mix of old and new, and here is a new Norwegian building, very modern, in it's design and shape, lots of large glass windows, but the common material is still there - wood.

One of my favorite buildings however,
is the Stal Tre Hus (Steel tree house)

On another quick note, the image of the first black house above is taken by another blogger here on blogspot. He has lots of photos up from around Stavanger in Norway, so if you like to see photos of Norway and Stavanger (a very pretty town, too) you might be interested in following his blog.

Jan 14, 2011

Sentence Forming Words

Generally, when you want to say you've been learning Norwegian, or you've started, you don't want to spout out a bunch of random Norwegian words, you'll probably want to form sentences. This is also, obviously, important groundwork for the rest of the language.

So, following will be some words that pretty much every sentence will have at least one of. Some of them, you may recognize from previous posts, but it's always good to see words again.

I - Jeg (Ja-ee)
Him - Han (Hahn)
Her - Hun (Hoohn)
Are - Er (Are)
Is - Er (Are)
Am - Er (Are)
Was - Var (Vahr)
Has/Have - Har (Hahr)
Had - Hadde (Hahd-deh)
A/One - En (Exactly the same way you pronounce the letter N)
You - Du (Doo)
You - Deg or Dere (Die/Deeh or Derah)*
At - På (Poh)
On - På (Poh)
Who - Hvem or Som (Vem or Sohm)*
What - Hva (Vah)
When - Når (Nor)
Where - Hvor (Hvor)
Why - Hvorfor (Vorfor)
How - Hvordan (Vordan)
The - en (Same as En above)*

These words are generally used in sentences, I'll give some examples soon, but first I need to clear up some things. has many different meaning, these depend on context. It is also not the only word for "in".

As for the stars at the words for "the" and "you" this is because you use du in certain situations, deg when referring directly to the person, and dere when referring to multiple people (I suppose the English equivalent would be 'all of you'?. The other thing is the word en. At the beginning of a word, it is singular, for example 'en hund' means "a dog" however, at the end of a word it becomes definite, in other words, it means the. Thus you get 'hunden' which means "the dog". There are other rules to this of course, especially for feminine, masculine and neuter words, but I will cover those later on, this is the basic idea. For the word who, it also changes from som to vem depending on use (sometimes even dialect). For now we will just use "vem".

Lets see some examples:

Hvor kommer du fra? - Where comes you from? (Where do you come from)
Har dere hunder? - Have you dogs? (Speaking to two people, or a group)
Hvor ar hunden? - Where is the dog?
Når er du her?  - When are you here? (Maybe asking someone when they will be in your town)

Brace yourself, this is a longer sentence;

Hyggelig å hilser på deg! - Nice to greet (on) you! (Basically, good to see you)

I hope these few example sentences have sort of explained a few uses of the words for 'you' among other words. I know there are some words in these sentences that aren't covered in my posts yet that I haven't put any pronunciation for, but they will probably get covered in the future.

To finish, some inspiration to learn more:
Voe, a fairly popular blogger from Norway
Until next time, ha det!

Jan 2, 2011

Months, Days, Weeks

Since it's a new year now I guess a good way to start off is with the Norwegian words for the months and days of the week. 

Both of these are pretty simple, since the words are fairly similar to English, and if you remember a little about Norse mythology there is also a connection between the naming of the days and the Norse Gods.

Weekdays - Ukedager (Ookeh-dagger, Singular Ukedag/weekday en ukedag/a weekday)
Monday - Mandag - Derived from the Old Norse Máni
Tuesday - Tirsdag - Derived from Tyr
Wednesday - Onsdag - Derived from Odin
Thursday - Torsdag - From Thor
Friday - Fredag - From the Goddess Frigg
Saturday - Lørdag - Not derived from a God, this one comes from the Old Norse word for 'day of washing'
Sunday - Søndag - Like Mandag, Søndag is derived from the word for Sun, thus, "day of the sun" 

Hopefully everyone at least has an idea of who Thor and Odin where, the others are probably a bit less well known, but the links are there if you want to read up a little more on your Norse Paganism. Next is the months of the year:

Months - Måneder (Moh-neh-der)
January - januar (Jan-you-are)
February - februar (Feb-roo-are)
March - mars (Marsh)
April - april (Aypril)
May - mai (Mai)
June - juni (Youni)
July - juli (Yuli)
August - august (August)
September - september (September)
October - oktober (Oktober)
November - november (November)
December - desember (December)

As you might have noticed, none of the Norwegian month names have capital letters. Unlike in English, these are not capitalized unless it's at the start of a sentence. But as you will have also noticed, the English words for most of the days of the week, and months, are practically the same as English, so it's very easy to learn. 

So, good luck.
No pictures of women today, instead, Jormungand.
In Norse Myth, the child of Loki and a giant.
He was so large he could wrap around the world and bite his own tail
this is where the Ouroboros concept likely arises.