How un-American ;-)

A list-to-be of the little things that remind me I’m from two countries, not one. Randomly updated.

Baseball in Norway. Doesn’t exist except where there be Americans. But one day I saw some neighborhood kids holding the bat at the wrong end and the American in me just couldn’t stay silent about it.

Norwegians are rude. A stereotype born from the fact that Norwegians do not engage in small talk or say “Please” when asking for something. They do, however, say thank you a lot and for everything; you can get very creative with “takk”. Just don’t say “takk for alt”. That goes on headstones.

Norwegians don’t embalm their dead. They believe in the dirt to dirt thing. In comparison, Americans appear to have learned about death from Disney movies.

VAT is included before checkout. This makes non-Americans think the US has a ridiculous sales tax policy, by not adding it on until check-out. I can defend the US practice because there sales tax is local, not national, unlike VAT in Europe (called MVA or moms in Norway). VAT is specified on your receipt, though.

Getting someone’s attention. A retail worker in the US (or any English speaking person) might call out “sir” or “ma’am” to get a customer’s attention. Which can lead to customers taking offense at being called “ma’am”. Not a problem in Norway, where those terms aren’t used. Instead, we go with a “hey, you”, or even just “you” (du, pronounced doo). “Du, kan du…?” “You, can you…?” Also helpful when you forget someone’s name.

Bathrooms given as fractions is one of the oddities of US real estate that also is practical. 1 and 3/4 baths? You know one of them probably doesn’t have a bathtub. 1 and 1/4 bath? Most likely the quarter one is just a toilet. Most bathrooms in Norway are 3/4 since most lack a bathtub.

Children outside without adult supervision. In the US, the 2010’s brought on the idea of “free-range parenting” and suing for the right to do it. In Norway, children never stopped walking to school unaccompanied by adults, or stopped taking the bus by themselves, or stopped playing outside without grown-ups nearby.

Never going outside in my PJs. Americans will wear their sleeping garments outdoors, in public. They go shopping in their pajamas, fly on planes in their pajamas. I have never, ever seen a Norwegian do this, nor would I expect to since most Norwegians sleep in the nude.

Christmas lights. White in Norway, colored in the US. I like both but I also like that each country sticks to its tradition.

Number of rooms: In American, I live in a two-bedroom apartment. In Norwegian, I live in a three-room apartment.

The flag. Norwegians will put a flag up in celebration of a birthday. Else, the flag is up only for national holidays and royal birthdays. Nobody wears flag-patterned garments except as participants in the Olympics. Americans are so fond of the flag and its design that you see it everywhere, all the time. There are houses that have the flag up all the time, and people who wear something flag patterned even when it’s not Independence day, but especially on Independence Day.