Speaking your language makes Norway feel like home, only better
Share This Article:
I am often asked why, out of all the places I could have gone to study abroad, I picked Norway. It was not because I felt some spiritual calling to the country. Nor was it because I had some life-long dream to go fjord exploring, or had some weird love of horrendously cold weather. In fact, I chose Norway for a reason so lazy it almost shames me. For many years, I had held a vague desire to study in a foreign country, but was always put off by the fact that in order to enjoy my time away and understand the classes, I would have to learn a second language. So you can imagine my delight when I first heard that in Norway, not only were the classes taught in English, but everyone — the waitresses, the taxi drivers, the tourist guides — spoke it extremely well. There are plenty of things that could go wrong for me here. I could fall off one of the country’s severe mountain tops, catch pneumonia from the cold, or get stranded in some cabin under ten feet of snow. But it’s pretty unlikely I will ever be misunderstood. ‘No one speaks English better than the Norwegians,’ boasted an article in Aftenposten, one of the country’s biggest newspapers, a couple of years back, before pointing out that they were referring to nations where English was not the native language. For an otherwise friendly and pleasant place, it is the only thing about Norway that is slightly intimidating: the extremely casual way in which residents can switch between the two languages. This tends to make a visitor assume everyone here is smarter than they are, which, of course, is not true. But it is still quite embarrassing to think that people in this country have mastered two languages when they were half my age, when back home in Glasgow it wouldn’t be too difficult to find people twice my age who are still getting to grips with their first. But for countries such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, they really have no choice. English, unlike Norwegian or Danish, is a truly global language. The governments of Scandinavia know that their country’s children must learn English, not just so holidays in America will be easier, but in order for them to have better chances in the international career market.
- Article continues below...
- More stories you may like...
- How to pack for your year abroad
- Tromsø: Experience the extremes at the outpost of civilisation
- 6 awkward cultural mistakes tourists are making
You might also like...
People who read this also read...
CONTRIBUTOR OF THE MONTH