So I wanted to talk about some of the minor ways life is different in Norway when compared to the United States.
Buses and Trains: I have ridden Ruter to and from campus many times, and what strikes me the most is how public transportation runs on the honor system. Oh, there are gates at each train station and bus entrance, but most passengers walk right around or through them. They largely exist to verify that your ticket or pass is valid for the trip. Ruter officers monitor train cars at random, and they have scanned my pass several times.
I cannot imagine this system working in America. Too many of my countrymen would take advantage of the lax security and be free-riders. (OH, so that’s where the term comes from!)
Steel Grates: Instead of welcome mats, most buildings have steel grates at their entrances. I suppose the Norwegians have figured out that these are better for cleaning shoes of snow and slush in the winter. Steel grates also make up pedestrian bridges. Oslo is not the city to wear heels.
Water Works: Many buildings in Oslo lack a water fountain, which is really annoying because walking around everywhere in long pants makes one thirsty.
Another thing that bothers me about Oslo is that “public” restrooms at malls, shopping centers, and transportation hubs require a fee. The fee is about $1.20. Although a small sum, I come from the Land of the Free, and Americans would be outraged at having to pay this.
Food: During my first week in Oslo, I walked into a pizza shop, sat down, looked at the menu, and then walked out of the restaurant. A personal pizza cost $20! That’s more than what a large pizza costs in the United States. I walked to the next restaurant, a Burger King, and was shocked that a Whopper sandwich cost 99 NOK (~$12). I passed.
At one of my other BK ventures, I bought a crispy chicken sandwich. The chicken had these browned rice krispies to make up the crunchiness. In the US, I think these kinds of sandwiches are just deep-fried. A staple of Norwegian cuisine is Grandiosa pizza. It’s all right, as far as frozen pizzas go. But the local population love it. In the past decades, Grandiosa’s jingles have topped the music charts twice! I’m also surprised at how many T.G.I. Friday’s there are in Oslo. I must have seen three or four around the downtown district. Maybe Allen Iverson can find a second home here.