My fellow research assistant, Grace, and I came up with a list of many interesting and/or surprising observations on our time in Oslo several days ago. Here’s what we’ve got so far:
- Everybody’s pregnant! Or they have 0-5 year olds. (We’ve also heard time and time again from our research that family is hugely important, and with social support for families as good as it gets, why not?)
- Also interesting to note about Oslo’s demographics: There is a conspicuous lack of 10-18 year olds. Where are the teenagers? Are they in short supply, or do they just hang out where we don’t?
- Hardly ANY insects. Except ants and a few small flying things like gnats or fruit flies. Given the climate, this sort of makes sense, but coming to Oslo from “Spring Time Tennessee” makes the lack of insects VERY noticeable (and appreciated!)
- Why are there jellyfish in the fjords around Oslo?? It’s COLD!
- Surprisingly – Oslo is very “non-white” (my neighborhood, Tøyen, is particularly notable for its immigrant population), but at the same time, it is NOT well integrated. The “cold Norwegian” stereotype does exist to a degree.
- There are high numbers of British, French, and German tourists – perhaps because their economies are doing well – and we’ve seen a lot of Asian tourists, too.
- Oslo is a relatively clean city – especially in comparison to places like New York or Berlin. (Or even Knoxville)
- Also in comparison to other cities, there are very few homeless people. Perhaps again, this can be attributed to a strong social welfare system. (The US could learn a thing or two…)
- The streets are very quiet. Hardly any sirens in the distance, and public transit seems to be about the loudest thing one hears.
- So many dogs out and about! Oslo is very much a dog-friendly city.
- Men seem to be WAY more involved in their family life – we frequently see men playing with their children all around town, and we’ve even had some men bring their babies to work at Fafo.
- Music festivals and concerts seem to be the norm on Summer weekends. It’s surely not like this year ’round, but when the weather is nice, you have to take advantage!
- There isn’t much written English except in advertisements, but just about everyone speaks it if needed.
- People come to Oslo for education and/or work, but Bergen is the real cultural hub of Norway
That’s all we wrote down nearly two weeks ago. I can’t think of too many other things to add. Oslo is expensive, of course, but that wasn’t a surprise. Food costs and other goods (clothes, electronics) aren’t much more expensive than in US big cities – being a tourist in NYC for a week earlier this year was definitely comparable. The big difference seems to be housing costs and taxes – neither of which we really have to deal with, aside from a month’s rent and tax on our food.
Well, I guess that’s all for now. On the whole, Oslo is a very “liveable” city – something I will probably be frequently reminded that Knoxville is not for the first few weeks back in the States. Only five more days…