What’s it like: Pant (no, not what you wear)

This is an example of a bottle recycling/refund machine
(photo found on Aftenposten)

As I mentioned in a previous post (read it HERE), recycling is big in Norway. And in addition to the things you just put into recycling containers, you can also return bottles for a refund. They call the refund Pant (pronounced pahnt) and I believe it can be a noun or a verb.

I’ve also talked about how the boys focus on specific units/themes at school throughout the year (read that post HERE). Daniel’s current unit of study is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

It is exciting when you see your kids do more than just ‘book learn’ something.

Daniel’s box that is now sitting in the entryway at his school

One evening the boys and I were talking about things going on at school: their units of study, what they liked about what they were learning, plus important things like eating lunch, recess, PE, etc. Daniel began complaining that they don’t have any decent equipment (balls, jump ropes, etc) on their playground. And through a series of questions I posed, he came up with the idea of asking people to bring in their bottles and the money that is collected could be used to purchase some new equipment. He works with his teacher to write the proposal, and then presented it to the principal for approval.

I’m really proud of Daniel and his ability to apply his unit of study to everyday life. It’s fun to see his enthusiasm each day when he checks the box in the school entryway to see how many more bottles were brought in.

Gode venner: Good friends

en norsk velsignelse

We are thankful for good friends here in Norway.

This past Sunday, one of our friends invited us over for dinner. We loved the ‘blessing cube’ she had (see photo at right), which includes one of our favorite Norwegian blessings (a song you sing as a way to thank God for the food before eating).

We also enjoyed some great desserts. Her oldest daughter made traditional Norwegian waffles – always a favorite – and her youngest daughter did an incredible job of baking pavlova.

waffles og pavlova

NWotD: lege

Lege
(noun) doctor.Used in a sentence
Daniel besøkte legen i går.
(Daniel visited the doctor yesterday.)

Related words
Fastlege: general practitioner
Tannlege: dentist
Legevakt: ER/emergency room/emergency services

Related to us
Daniel had his first Norwegian checkup today. Everything went well. We really like our family doctor/GP. He is patient with our bad language skills, and seems to be quite thorough. A couple of things that were interesting to us and quite different from our experience in the states:

  1. He introduced himself by first name. No formal titles here!
  2. He was wearing a white t-shirt and dark blue scrub pants – no shirt & tie with white lab coat!
  3. We waited about 2 minutes to be called back. And the doctor called us back.
Have you ever visited a doctor in another country? Did you notice differences from your home country?

I was really on a roll…

I was blogging almost daily.

And then hubby returned from the states. And my focus shifted. It really is so good to have him home!
But stay tuned… I promise I will be back soon with more about our American-Norwegian life. More about our challenges, fun, faux pas,… more about life in general.
To be continued!

Wednesdays Off: thankful for little things

Terrible photo – but who cares!
So thankful for time outdoors.

We are happy to be back in language school. It is good to have that routine back, to reconnect with friends there, and to make a few more steps towards language proficiency.

That said, we are also happy that unlike our last class which was five days a week, we now have Wednesdays free. It is a great time to catch up on work, run errands, and relax a little together.

Yesterday, we finished our errands a little early and had some time before picking the boys up from school. So we went to the park and enjoyed a brisk 2.5 mile walk. So good to get fresh air and sunshine!

Cost of Living

A report was recently released, ranking the world’s most expensive cities to live in. And Oslo – our country’s capital (just north of where we live) – comes in at number four.

Read the report HERE

When we moved to Vancouver, we experienced sticker shock. Everything seemed so expensive. Vancouver is North America’s most expensive city. But after a month or so, we learned where to shop, which brands were the most affordable, and how to join customer reward programs.

And then we arrived in Norway. Sticker shock all over again.

But there are a few things to keep in mind..

  1. Our cost of living was low in the states.
  2. I was a coupon queen. I spent a couple of hours each week with my binder of coupons, scissors, sale ads, and a couple of really good websites. I’ve found some discount programs here, but not the same.
  3. A different currency can throw your brain for a loop! Currently, the exchange rate is about 5.95 Norwegian kroner (nok) to 1 US dollar (USD). So just looking at the prices initially was a bit shocking. Imagine a pack of pasta that might cost the equivalent of $1.80 – but you see 10.90.
  4. Import products are strictly regulated in Norway, and heavily taxed. Most things in the stores are local products, and most are also a very high quality.
  5. Restaurants seem especially expensive. But this is not an eat-out/restaurant culture like our home culture was.
  6. Prices are all-inclusive: the price you see already includes tax.
  7. Prices are higher, but wages are higher as well.
And again, after a while you learn where to shop, what the locals buy, and how to find discounts. You stop converting every price to US dollars, and begin recognizing a good deal when you see one.

EXTREME EXAMPLES

Of course we get funny and interesting reactions every time someone comes to visit us. Here are some extreme examples, things we like to show visitors just for shock value.
  • 79 nok ($13 usd) for a small box of pop-tarts [And no, we don’t buy those!]
  • $4 – 5 usd for a loaf of bread [But it is good, fresh bread, without junk in it] [And this is one reason why I make my own bread!]
  • 4000 nok ($725 usd) for a KitchenA!d stand mixer [Wish I could have brought mine with me]
  • $27 for a large cheese pizza [Yes, we buy these sometimes – and they are so good!]
  • Is that basic bicycle almost $500?” [You learn to take care of your things like these and make them last a long time.]

And just for fun, here is an interesting table from that report, showing some commonly purchased items, and what they cost in US dollars. How do prices in your city stack up to these?

Source: Worldwide Cost of Living 2013

What’s it like: Language school

Now that we are getting back into the language school routine, I thought I could share a little about it.Our current class meets 4 times a week. We meet from 12:10 – 2:35, and have Wednesdays free.

Not sure if it’s the norm, but all of our classes so far have been around 20 – 25 students.

We do a variety of things. There is always a text book, and normally a workbook to go with it. So some of our time is spent going through the text book, reading together aloud, reading in groups, sharing discussion questions. We have times where we talk about current events or cultural happenings. We have lessons in grammar (which I love, but I’m a grammar geek!). From time to time, we’ll have a special event, like a day at the beach, or a time to bring food and share things from your home culture. We have homework, writing assignments, and opportunities to do oral presentations.

In our beginner course, the teacher would use some English to help explain things. But since moving to the next level last August, it is taught only in Norwegian.

Our classes have really been helpful in our language development. And it has been a good way to meet some many great people!

Language Confused: Hate

It’s always good to know how to introduce yourself. This is one of several key phrases we focused on before arriving in Norway.

ADVICE: don’t merely depend on your reading skills when learning a new language. You really need to hear it from a native speaker. Say it back and let them have the freedom to correct you.

We thought we were doing great. But sometimes we would get strange looks. Apparently, as we later figured out, Zack was saying something that sounded more like “I hate Zack.”