As an American living in Norway for a few weeks... Here's what has shocked me the most:
1. Grocery stores aren't open on Sunday
Sorry! Better plan ahead. The conveniences we are used to of getting whatever you want same day from Amazon prime are not enjoyed here. The pace seems a bit slower, things take longer, and people seem to be okay with that.
2. Everything is smaller here...
Grocery stores are the size of our Walgreens, CVS, or Rite-Aid There are no grocery store like a Kroger, Wal-Mart, Meijer, Wholefoods etc here. Everything is smaller here... The roads, the cars, the stores, the people, the corners, the parking garages. Good luck driving your big truck here. You'd get stuck in no time like we almost have multiple times. You need two people to help get into most parking spots and they can pack more cars into a tiny parking garage than you would believe. They may drive on the right side of the road, but lots of the roads are two way on one lane with a cliff on the side. You have to pull over and wait for a car to pass and the road to clear.
This is a BIG and unusual parking garage... And the cars are still right on top of each other. You should see the small ones that I was too afraid to take a picture of because they were too tight.
3. Norwegians love their sweets
It is very cold here right now... But everyone is eating ice cream when we go out. The candy aisle has more options than the fruit and veggie aisle, and the bakeries are all full of danishes, rolls, and breads. Norwegians love treats and sodas, but you don't see any obese people... Hmmm, why is that? One difference here is that most of the breads are baked on site. And are coming out of the oven all day long. Yum! We've ate a lot of bread here. And a lot of cheese. And a lot of meats.
4. Speaking of vegetables... There aren't many of those here
In the USA you can buy any vegetable or fruit you want at any time... Right now in Norway you can only buy: Cucumber, sweet potato, potato, broccoli, cauliflower, micro greens, bell peppers, tomato (from who knows where) and that is about it. Most of it is not grown here either.
5. People aren't "outgoing friendly," but are polite
99% of the people we've ran across do not smile at you or wave or say hello when you cross their path, but if you strike up a conversation they are very friendly and willing to answer any question you have. They seem to keep to themselves, are modest, and don't talk loudly. When I was sitting in the airport there was not a single sound to be heard. It was completely quiet. Compared to an American airport where you leave with a headache this was quite a surprise. In the USA it feels a bit rude not to smile, nod your head, or wave when you come across a stranger and make eye contact (at least for me as a Southerner,) but here you feel a bit strange when you do those things... It doesn't seem to be common and a stoic look is much more common here. But it isn't like NYC where people scowl at you and are just grumpy because you are in their way. They just are indifferent and going about their day. Not unfriendly.
6. Norweigans have embraced technology
Electric cars are everywhere... I've seen more Teslas here than in any city in the USA. The airport is almost complete automated. I bought a ticket, printed a ticket, checked a bag, deposited the bag to be sent to the plane, and entered the security carry on bag scan area without interacting with a human. The security area was high tech and allowed for so many people to go through at once.
I've only seen one person pay for something with cash in a week and a half-- everyone taps their cards and don't even slide them or have the chips read.
Tolls, parking garages, etc all use cameras to track your fees and you can just drive away and it will be paid for later.
7. Norwegians are efficient
The train station and bus station are efficient and easy to figure out... even when you don't speak Norwegian.
The planes board and deplane in an insane speed... everyone stands up, grabs their bags, and leaves... They don't wait around in the aisle forever waiting. People can handle their own bags and you don't see many people that are slow. There aren't last calls, major announcements over the PA, etc... People aren't babied, they are expected to know what they are doing and they figure it out on their own.
Grocery stores have one check out line or maybe two, but they are fast and they just get it done. If you want a bag you ask for it and then pay a small amount for it.
8. Norway is clean
Compared to major US cities and second/third tier cities such as: NYC, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, Savannah, Charleston, etc Norway is spotless. The streets don't stink, they aren't full of liter, and there are very few homeless people. The restaurants and cafes are clean too. My wife used to be a restaurant inspector in the USA and she has seen significantly better hand washing, cleaning, etc here.
Recycling, compost, and trash is important here.
9. Nature is enjoyed and embraced
Everywhere we go there is a public park, walkway, trail, etc that you can access. And people are taking advantage of them! Possibly why #3 isn't causing everyone to be overweight. OR maybe it is the exposure to cold and the amount of wood that people chop. Here in the rural area everyone has piles and piles of wood to burn.
Thanks to AI for this true statement: Nature is absolutely breathtaking: The scenery in Norway is unlike anything I've ever seen before. From the fjords to the glaciers, there's just so much beauty here.
10. Food is everywhere
I thought it was strange that they didn't have a lot of bagged snacks or processed protein bars and the like in Norway... So we packed a bunch of them in our suitcase. But every plane, train, boat ride, city corner, etc has a cafe or hot bar that has meals ready to eat and baked on site. If you don't bring a lunch that is fine... You can get somewhere good almost anywhere. In a lot of the USA if you don't pack something you're stuck eating a crap meal at a McDonalds which I won't do... They do have truffle fries here at McDonald's... Interesting.
11. Houses are a lot different
White bathrooms, queen bed each side has their own comforter instead of sharing a comforter, heated floors all over the house, three fireplaces in this house, etc. Houses are made out of the natural colors and materials (mostly wood) and are much less gaudy and blend more into the scenery.