Norwegian vs British Culture

So, being Norwegian, I never really thought that the British were that different from us. I was wrong. (I know that using the term British may not be politically correct here as I know that there are many differences between for instance the Welsh and the Irish aswell, so forgive me for saying “the British”).


When I moved to London to live with my now husband I thought I was well prepared; I spoke the language reasonably well and surely that was the most important factor. The fact that I was still thinking in Norwegian and had to translate my thoughts into English turned every conversation into a challenge. Now try to have a conversation in a loud pub, after a couple of pints, well, you could say that I was not the greatest conversationalist (is that even a word?). But of course in time I improved, and at the moment I most confess that I not very good at speaking either English and Norwegian!

Before I moved I had of course heard jokes about the British and their tea, but I was surprised to find that they aren’t jokes – they are really serious about tea! For a coffee drinker this was a little bit difficult in the beginning, but again, I embraced this new culture and I now really enjoy a “nice cuppa tea”. My husband enjoys it more though, and he seems to enjoy it even more now that we are living in Norway, I guess he is holding on to his” Britishness” for dear life!

They are ever so polite though aren’t they – the British. I quickly learned to say please and thank you after just about every sentence. It even seems to be common to say “excuse me” or sorry when people bump into you on the bus! In Norway, if somebody bump into me on the bus they are likely to feel a very sharp elbow, but in England, I would apologise! They even call out “thank you” to the bus driver when leaving the bus. I guess I most explain that I am from Norway, and even though I don’t think of us as being rude, after living in London for 8 years I am starting to wonder.

I didn’t see any proof of this myth that the British are so good at queuing though! Nobody ever queued to get onto the 137 bus at Sloane Square in the afternoon!

Another thing that took me by surprise as that people hold doors open for each other. I guess to any civilised human being that sounds strange, but remember – I am from Norway… So in London doors are being held open all the time! In the beginning I found it strange. When walking down a corridor at work and if somebody was say 10 meters ahead of me, they would hold the door open for me, and so that I wouldn’t appear rude, I would feel the need to half run so that the gentleman would not have to wait for me. But I got used to that aswell, and I started to enjoy it, strangers actually showing each other a bit of politeness. Back in Norway I can not begin to count the amount of doors that have slammed in my face just because I was expecting them to be held open for me! Men would also allow women to walk first, through a door, into a lift etc, but again, in Norway that kind of thing doesn’t really happen (to me anyway)!

I never really enjoyed British humour (again: I know that say Scottish humour may be different from the English…) I just didn’t get it! When I was growing up my dad (who is also Norwegian just in case you are wondering) liked to watch Faulty Towers (he still does), and I just never got it. It was not in the least bit funny. After a few years in England though the humour started growing on me, come to think of it that may have something to do with my understanding of the language… Now I really miss it… And there isn’t that much of it on Norwegian telly. I was excited when I heard that The Office was starting over here, but then it turned out to be the American version, not the British version, so it wasn’t quite the same.

I guess I should also confess that I really really miss Eastenders!

– Photo credit to Asta Burrows –


6 Comments to “Norwegian vs British Culture”

  1. Congratulations on starting your blog, Asta! I’ll be checking in! 🙂

    Veronica Samuels 🙂

  2. “Gratulerer så mye med en egen blogg ;-)”
    I just have to say….don’t complain about my changes 🙂
    I guess it is hard not to be influenced by your surroundings.


  3. See, you get used to the nice manners and miss them when they are gone! I fume when someone here slams a door on me!

    • I know! I have been back home in Norway now for about 3 years, and I still can’t get used to people noe holding doors open for me, or not letting me go first through a door…

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