For all of you newly moved or wishing to move up North. There you are, on the brick of a new life. Freshly arrived in your new home in the North. This land and its people will soon find their way in every aspect of your life. And if you don't want to become a bystander in your own life, you better start letting it all in. So, let’s dive into that confusing, but exciting space in between cultures.
For your convenience, I put together these 10 easy steps into Nordic-hood: (This is a generalisation, please read lightly.)
The way into people's heart goes through the spoken word. And I mean that very literal. As in: put in actual effort to learn the language. You would be surprised how many doors open when you show interest and effort.
But actually, the real way into people’s heart is through the stomach. If you want to gain a better understanding of the culture, then try some local cuisine. Or if you’re up for it, learn to catch your own fish. It will give you more appreciation for your everyday food and for the land your table stands.
Get to know the seasons. Like all of them. The north is blessed with more than 4. You have winter, hardly winter, grey season, false spring, second winter and some summer days that somehow have the same weather as some winter days. Just to name a few.
Each of these seasons has its appropriate actions, for example: It takes some subtility to discern when the last winter will come around, before you change the tires on your car.
Do what others do. Now is your time to shine as a pack animal! You might not understand why you are doing things at first, unless you want to learn it the hard way.
For a long time, I didn’t understand why my neighbour would shovel snow, sometimes four times a day, instead of letting it sit in your driveway until you had to get out on Monday. Turns out that snow is easiest shovelled freshly fallen, and it will actually save you energy doing it regularly.
Accept that you'll always be in between worlds, in between countries. You can live in the north longer than you ever lived in your birth country, but you'll never be truly Nordic. In the eyes of most natives, that right is reserved for those who spend their childhood there and have done all the typical things children do there.
Don't let that stop you. Instead, be proud to be an interesting blend of cultures!
From now on, coffee is your default beverage. And it’s not just a drink. Coffee is a bonding ritual. Every time you have coffee with someone, you peel away one layer of the famous ‘Nordic shell’. It’s like alcohol, but with lasting results.
Want to lure people into your house? Make sure to have a big pot of filter coffee ready, nobody will be able to resist the smell. Seven.
Your job isn't your life, so stop stressing already. Your life is outside. Your life is the people you love! Priorities are different here. And believe it or not, this leads to better job environments and work efficiency. Although, two weeks is still considered an appropriate duration to answer emails.
“Everything will be alright in the end.”
Forget planning ahead. And this might be the case for many cultures, but where I come from, people plan their summer holiday, minuteously, in January.
However, in the North, you have weather. A lot of it. So, it is a bit more difficult to predict when you’ll be able to do what.
And isn’t it also very freeing? To only decide on your weekend a day before? It brings you much more in tune with yourself. Try it!
Embrace the sun! Love the light! Even in the darkest of winter, the North is a place of the light. And every season, the light looks different.
But really, start to feel very guilty when it is sunny outside and you are not.
Stand with the people. Stand with the community. In places where people live scattered, they stand together strongest.
Never have I felt a bigger sense of community, than when I moved from a city with millions of people, to a village of 400. You just can’t be anonymous here. People will keep an eye on you (sometimes a bit too sneaky though). Let them!
When it comes down to it, they will have your back <3.