17 Mar 2008

Is Singularity Overrated?

Norway is extremely homogenous, with fewer than 5% of Norwegian citizens having a non-Germanic ethnic background. For us, coming from 10+ years in Canada, of which the last 6 were spent in the Toronto area - home of multiculturalism - it's been interesting to once again experience such homogeneity up close.

I knew, coming in, that this would be a transition, but it still amuses me just how similar people are here.

By similar...

...I don't just mean physically - although the vast majority of our community is white and fair. Benjamin's class has two students who are of a visibly different ethnicity (they are both from India), but Christopher's class does not have a single child whom I would suspect originally hailed from another country.

...or how we all dress our kids the same - although on any given day, one of my children will bring home a friend wearing the exact same sweater, shoes, gloves or bag. Apparently everyone in Norway shops for their boys at H&M.

...or how we all drive the same (silver) car, even though I on more than one occasion have gotten mad at the car key for refusing to open someone else's Golf.

What really makes me laugh is how we all do the same thing for the holidays. Such as the Easter holidays, where every man, woman and child head to the mountains for one last ski fest before spring can be welcomed with open arms.

The entire country shuts down. Try to schedule a work meeting with a Norwegian colleague during Easter. It's not going to happen. A broken down furnace? You're cold out of luck.

Nothing gets done in Norway during Easter, because there's no one around to do it. Walk into downtown Oslo, and it's like being in a ghost town.

There's no point in fighting it.

So go on, join the traffic on the single-lane highways heading up into the mountains for some sunny skiing in shorts. That's where the rest of Norway will be. And tomorrow afternoon, that's where we're planning to go, too.

Because in Norway, apparently, we're like everyone else.

38 comments:

ALM said...

There's something comforting about all that, though...

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Are you complaining or bragging?

Hallie :)

Steph said...

Too funny. Have a great time skiing!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I think I'd like that, for a change.

Julie Pippert said...

There must be a wonderful relief and pleasure in that, as long as you are within it (the round peg). I wonder what it is, though, to be square, or to move into a different environment that isn't homogeneous. I've been in both, not to this degree, I guess. Interesting observation in this post!!

Dawn said...

You've gotten mad at your key for not opening up someone else's car also? I've done that ;) I always enjoy coming to your blog and learning more about your family and about Norway- today was no exception.

Mrs. Annie said...

I think we "Americans" could learn a thing or two about relaxing...

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

When everyone else is on vacay, you definitely want to be joining them!

Chantal said...

Just read your last three posts. Good on you for hitting the slopes on last time. Those kids are adorable! and Wow Berlin. I have never been there but it sounds like a very interesting place to visit. I should add it to my long list of places to go.

Karen MEG said...

Have a great, relaxing time Heidi. Just catching up, and Berlin looks like such a must visit city. Liam just did his country project on Germany (his Germanish roots LOL!) and Ian always raves about Berlin.

The skiing should be fantastic! We're actually experiencing the great melt now. Finally!

LoriD said...

Norway is a lot like any small rural community back here - during the fall fair everyone is involved and the "groupthink" of the town is quite evident. Some would find it stifling; others would find it very comforting.

Christie said...

That is pretty funny. Never thought of it like that.

Misty said...

Skiing in shorts? Does that sound nuts to anyone else?

kim-d said...

I think I would like to try it the Norway Way once--except for the silver car :)! I really like the part about nothing getting done at Easter; that seems really nice to me! And I am glad that you have chosen not to fight it; it just wouldn't be right! HAHAHA!

Motherhood for Dummies said...

Seriously you are killing me here...more skiing! The season is almost over and I am still not fitting into my snow pants and even my boots really :) Have fun for me

Kathryn said...

Oh so fun! Have a wonderful skiing Easter!

Kellan said...

It sounds so marvelous to me!! I would give almost anything to be skiing over Easter weekend! I hope you have a blast - I know you will.

See you soon - Kellan

Jennifer said...

I know I'd miss the diversity of my area if we lived somewhere completely homogenous. But! Oh how I wish *everything* would shut down around here more often. People wouldn't die if everything was closed every Saturday or every Sunday...Mmmm....that part sounds fantastic.

Don Mills Diva said...

I think I woudl miss the diversity but you gotta love a country where everyone is a ski nut - that I would LOVE!

Amy said...

My husband visited Norway while in the Marines and fell in love with it. He loved the beautiful country.

I really admire the emphasis that I that I see on family. I am not sure if that is just exclusive to your family or if it's a common theme. It seems as though devout so much of your time to family time. Of course, the elements of travel and skiing are awesome too!

Sue said...

My brother spent two years in Norway. We come from Danish stock and look it - he is blonde and blue eyed, spoke fluent Norweigian (sp?) and fit right in. He said it was so strange - that everyone looked like him, that everyone was so much alike culturally. But he very much enjoyed his time there and really loved the people. I know he is eager to go back with his wife and children. (I'm going to stow away with them and come visit you ;>)

Just Seeking said...

I love it! I am very fond of any place or person or culture that places family time, pleasure, enjoying life above working incessantly like where expected to do in the states!

Mary Beth said...

Why fight it? Go with the flow! Oh and my mother has set off alarms because she's trying to get into someone else's car. My last car was a metallic pink tracker - trust me, NO ONE else had that one!

Victoria said...

Lovely! Can't wait for the pics! Here in the southern US we all do something similar @ Easter, except we head to the beach. Which is where we're headed in a few days.

Missed you while I was MIA!

Victoria said...

Lovely! Can't wait for the pics! Here in the southern US we all do something similar @ Easter, except we head to the beach. Which is where we're headed in a few days.

Missed you while I was MIA!

shay said...

ha ha too funny!

"So go on, join the traffic on the single-lane highways heading up into the mountains for some sunny skiing in shorts. That's where the rest of Norway will be. And tomorrow afternoon, that's where we're planning to go, too."

I wish! IS that an invite?!

Anna-borderline-bonkers-banana :) said...

Whoot, that cracks me up!
Like sheep...hee, hee. Funny thing is I find it like that here. Since moving from a bigger city with far more diversity it is strange coming back to a smaller more farming minded community city. We too are like sheep.

Have a great time skiing, I am so jelouse!

Gina said...

That is so interesting!

Here in SoCal, people are as different as different can be.

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

So I guess you could really use the old saying, "They all look alike." :) Where did you live prior to Canada?

dkuroiwa said...

And here I am...in Japan...a tall, green-eyed, blonde American with a zaftig figure in the middle of small to smaller, dark skinned, dark haired (usually!), dark eyed people. I'm pretty damn easy to spot in a crowd. I would love to blend in sometimes...and then, there are other times, I love being so different.
And here...cars are usually silver, white or black. Ours was a lovely light blue!! Trying to teach the boys that sometimes being like everyone else is good, but...it's also kind of fun to be different!!!

Candy said...

I would love that if I was a working person, and had that time off, but if I wanted something and everything was closed for Easter, I'd be out of my mind.

MadMad said...

Oh, that's so funny! Though even here, just the other day, I was telling my daughter she might as well be wearing a uniform to school: every girl, of every color, background and shape, was wearing jeans and the same brand of jacket, and Uggs.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Hmmm, sounds a lot like Stepford wives =)

It is a bit bizare going from the two extremes. I remember coming from my white Idaho town to Seattle where the library card form is offered in 14 languages.

thirtysomething said...

Wow. Bizarre, yet somehow strangely comforting...the similarities.

Have a great ski trip!

Barrie said...

I come from Toronto and that multi-cultural background. But, here, in SoCal, my kids go to an elementary school that's something like 98% white. Feels very strange.

Beck said...

That's very, very funny to think about.

Cathy said...

Skiing for Easter -- love it!

another good thing said...

I love that- it's like a COKE commercial with everyone doing the same thing until, like a PEPSI gets opened up...