A total of around 48 hours inside airplanes or airports, airplane food, airport prices, flight delays of more than 5 hours and all what is on the package did not dim the greatness of my first international trip to my next home: Oslo, the Norwegian capital of just 500.000 habitants. On this post I intend to tell a little about the different perceptions (at least the ones I can remember). Sorry if I come up with any Brazilian stereotype or bizarre thought, that’s my culture and I am still in it. Besides that, I won’t explain exactly why I was there, but you can see it here on this post about the trip.
(I will make one post only about the conference, this is only about the Oslo experience)
I must confess I didn’t see much of the city, I arrived and my route was only house -> office -> house, with very few exceptions. But I must say Oslo is totally calm city to my standards. Very few traffic, few people on the streets and few tall buildings. It looks like a very pleasant city, since I particularly dislike crowds. Building look very pretty, well taken care of (except maybe some old apartments where inside is a little not so good or the old metro). But in majority it’s much prettier than any city in Brazil (when we talk about constructions, not nature - because, you know, you just can’t beat Rio de Janeiro, sorry guys). I loved it!
Temperature / climate
I know we were not at the worst winter part, so I have no idea of how cold it can really be, but for sure the -1 to 3 that I experienced there was not so cold at all to me. I was feeling colder in my own city, here in Brazil, because houses are not prepared to cold (so you are always cold) and the humidity seems to be higher, so the sensation is worst.
And I saw SNOW for the first time! :) Snow is a funny thing, I like the way it feels like. I just didn’t like when it melts and everything becomes slippery as hell, thus making me almost fall 3 or 4 times. And taking in account my underdeveloped dexterity, I know it will definitely happen.
Almost everywhere there’s a heating system in place, from houses and offices to public transportation. They have good isolation also, so it’s quite easy to be on short sleeves inside. Really, this is paradise near the way we feel at home in Porto Alegre’s winter, where the only time you feel hot is on your bed (after some 10 minutes) and on the shower (if you are lucky enough to not use an electric shower, which the majority are not). So it’s pretty easy to leave your bed and the shower without thinking every time you will freeze to death.
Bathrooms are worth notes: the bathroom floor where people have shower is heated. It’s an absolute paradise feeling to walk on that. Also the bathroom lights are mysteriously placed outside the bathroom itself (I wonder why, but had no courage to ask). Every sink I run through had hot and cold water - oh, yeah, and you can drink the water from the tap (this probably means that we could make Chimarrão – South Brazilian’s kind of tea - just using the tap, without the need for an stove).
By far what I will probably miss the most of Brazil, the food. OMFG, they eat kind of sandwiches at lunch and they have real warm food at dinner (quite the opposite of Brazil). And I must say that their bread is a little rough. Not to mention to put sweet things (as chocolate or some kind of jam) on it. NOT WARM FOOD AND SWEET AT LUNCH? I disliked it, but I guess I will adapt (I hope). I must say that the sauces and meat served at dinner didn’t catch up my tongue also - besides the fancy meal at the official dinner which was absolutely magnanimous (and probably overwhelmly expensive). By the way, as I’ve been told, meat is sooo expensive (I will miss the Brazilian barbecue, especially the one that my granddad does).
And no hope for buffet restaurants (so usual in Brazil - I already miss “Tudo Pelo Social”). When you buy it, they serve your plate and that’s it, no way of choosing “that and that and not that”. Maybe I could open a kilo restaurant with tons of meat?
I was expecting closed people, and I kind of didn’t find them. Really, people from AIESEC, I was told, are very different from the “normal” Norwegians, but AIESECers are pretty cool, smiling, starting conversations and so on. Of course they don’t hug you when meeting for the first time, but they are really nice. I can say that they are more open them me (because I probably am the most closed Brazilian ever since).
But also people from outside AIESEC (I talked with people from Electrolux and Hybel, 2 organizations that were in the conference) and they looked like quite interested to talk to me and they were great people). Also, when I was waiting at the bus stop at 4am, a random guy who arrived there to wait for the same bus started to talk to me about where I was going (it was an airport route) and, after getting to know I was Brazilian, about football (or soccer, as you wish).
And what about public service (such as the police thing to get the work permit)? Absolutely helpful, smiling and flexible enough to really help you. Being used to the Brazilian public service, I can say that nothing of the above can be found here. I loved it.
By the way, Norwegians seem to be very polite and caring about other people. Every time I was around, they started to speak English, so I could join the conversation. I think I didn’t need to say not once “hey, please, switch to English so I don’t feel a baby here”. And their English knowledge is great. And everybody speaks English, really. From bus drivers to random people on the street. I just met ONE person that did not speak English, and it was a restaurant waiter with all the looks of being an immigrant from middle east or somewhere near. Norwegians speak English very well. Once again, I loved it.
Are Norwegians closed? NOT! Maybe I was expecting too closed people, so the good impression. Let’s see the impression on the long run.
Definitely I didn’t love it. Prices are so expensive there, probably because they get a very good salary there (or is it the other way around?) Anyway, prices are huge, for example, a very simple plate at the university restaurant by the office was arounf 50 NOK (Norwegian Kroner), which means around 6.5 Euro or 16.7 Brazilian Reais. WOW! And for sure the worst prices are for alcohol, in a bar we paid 50 NOK for an long neck beer. At the store it’s a little cheaper, but not so much, a can of 500ml bear is around 20-30 Kroner. Totally bad for a beer lover as me, I guess I will have to brew my own alcohol somehow.
Talking about alcohol, we could not forget to mention parties: in fact people do not drink much at the party (because of the prices), so they do kind of pre-party and after-party, where then they kind of rock the house until the bottles are 100% empty. They go wild at the party, dancing and all, but, different from Brazil, they do not make out or anything (at the party at least). I loved the party, but, then, I was so drunk that maybe it was just the alcohol. Who knows? Well, just to make sure you understand: I loved it (besides the formal one, that band was really bringing me down and the beer was so expensive that it was not worth)!
Buy the passes (from machines), go anywhere with the same pass (bus, tram or metro) and no body checks anything. Absolutely not working in Brazil, but there, people really buys it and respect (I think). Norwegians seem to be very responsible people in that sense - no cheating the rules. And is so easy to understand their transport system, where is it coming, where it came from, in how many minutes it will arrive and how many minutes it will take to your destination. I loved it! Transport is punctual, I loved it even more!
Safe as a Swiss safe, people just leave the offices open (the whole floor), leave a computer screen at the building hall to pick up tomorrow, leave the house key at mailboxes, walk without any worries to very desert streets and so on. I saw ONE begger there and it was clearly not a begger, but a drug addicted just asking for money. A very good cultural shock, I can say.
I will be the coach of University of Oslo (or UiO as they say). They seem to have a great potential to perform (they grew a lot in the last term and were awarded with the leadership award and the most progressive LC award). What I liked the most of them is that in the SWOT analysis they were the only one to think of opportunities to grow on Exchange and that they are very mature people, really good to talk to them. I guess they were really happy to have me as coach as well, so we both are very willing to start the work. Guys, let’s go for the Role Model LC next year. ;)
The last are the best: my team is absolutely amazing. The guys are so funny, it’s unbelievable. The ones that were more mysterious to me, Sveinung and Alexa, are amazing. Sveinung is probably the funniest guy on Earth (and for sure the funniest on Norway) and Alexa, besides being funny and extremely competent, is a very good dancer. Camilla, Ida and Sonam just reinforced the good impressions I had from them. Also the current MC is amazing, Kirsten, Kenneth, Camilla, Magnus… It will be amazing to work with all them, I can’t wait. So, just to make sure you understand: I loved it!
Can’t wait to be there again in 15th June!