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Episode 8: Comparing Norway vs The US

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Tune in: Apple | Spotify

Whenever I mention Norway on my Instagram I always seem to get at least one comment along the lines of “wait you’re not from here” 

Because despite my best efforts to clearly explain why and how I ended up in North Carolina, it’s easy to miss. I barely have an accent, and American culture is so used to people listing where their ancestors came from that me personally immigrating to this country seems to get missed. And if you listened to episode 1 of The Hygge Hour Podcast you may have heard me say I was basically on this mission to blend in, so I’d say mission accomplished.

But as I start sharing about the fact that no, I’m actually from Norway. Born and raised. English isn’t even my first language, all the questions seem to come up. 

And I’m happy to answer any questions and I love being able to share this with yall, which also is another big reason why my business name is Hygge Design Co. (and the podcast) as an opportunity to open that door for conversations about what makes us different and unique. 

And it seems very fitting to air this episode today since it is the seventeenth of May or 17 Mai as we’d say in Norway – our constitution day. 

So what is today’s episode? It’s a dive into some of the differences between Norway and the US and how Americans can add a little more hygge to a lifestyle that doesn’t easily lend itself to it. 

A little disclaimer – neither country is better, just pointing out some of the obvious differences. Also based on my experience, growing up in Norway close to Oslo and now living in North Carolina. 

So today is 17 Mai, and I figured let me just explain a little more what this means to us Norwegians. Normally, we’d celebrate the constitution day with ice cream for all, as much as you want, getting up early to watch or participate in the parade (you do this as kids) since we grew up where the crown prince and crown princess have their residence, we walk by that and wave before going to play lots of lawn games, grill out and eat ice cream. 

Truly is a day dedicated to the kids.

In elementary school and middle school, we also had days leading up to 17 Mai where we would go out and pick trash after the winter along the streets to help clean up, which big difference here Norway isn’t nearly as littered as America.

Alright, so now that you know why I thought today was so fitting for this episode, let’s get into it! 

Coffee and quality time

One of my favorite hygge moments, and to me the ultimate hygge, is sitting at the family cabin on an island drinking coffee after dinner. Spend time with family and just chat, truly quality time. 

It’s very common to drink coffee after dinner, and if someone comes over you’ll almost always ask if they want a cup of coffee.

I found this stat from Fjord Tours that helps explain the importance of coffee for Norwegians:

“In fact, Norway has the second-highest per capita coffee consumption, with over 80 percent of its population drinking coffee on a daily basis. Not only are Norwegians drinking coffee every day, but they are also having multiple cups. The average number of cups of coffee consumed by Norwegians is over four!”

Café phenomenon / Food 

Starbucks didn’t even come to Norway until 2012. And my mom still doesn’t get it. Interesting marketing thing here, a lot of people will choose starbucks over something else in the US because they know what to expect. 

I used to work at a cafe and also worked at a foreign exchange company where it felt rude bringing laptop to cafes. The place I worked actually didn’t have wifi for customers! 

While it may be a little bit more of a thing now, cafes are still heavily for socializing and spending time with each other!  

I also want to mention here that drive-thru’s are not really a thing. Yes, we have McDonald’s, but I don’t know that I’ve ever gone through the drive-thru in Norway. 

Store hours

The local mall where I grew up their hours are  – 10-9pm Monday through Friday, and 9am-7pm on Saturday and closed Sunday. 

Grocery store – 7am – 11pm Monday through Saturday, Sunday closed

Walmart by my house – 24 hours 

Have to plan more. Amazon isn’t a thing. Importing stuff from the US gets very expensive because of value-added tax, and the general consumerism of America isn’t as widely spread. 


Where I lived in Norway, public transportation was widely available. I think i was maybe in 4th grade when I rode the bus to my grandparents’ house by myself (with my sister) for the first time. So coming to America and watching the parents pick up their kids from the bus stop that literally stopped outside their front door was very different for me. 

I walked to school or rode my bike up until 10 grade. Some days it took 45 minutes to walk, and that’s just what we did. I remember the handful of times my mom or my grandparents would take me to school, once was because it was -20 degrees and the others were if i had a doctors appointment or dentist appointment, but even then, I’d get myself there most of the time since I would typically go alone. 

Love for nature and calm

Norwegians generally have an appreciation for nature. 

We’re supposedly born with skis on our feet, and we’re talking cross country skiing, not downhill. 

Field trips at school – full-day trips, and there’s no better hygge feeling than being outside for 6-7 hours and finally getting back home and taking a shower and snuggling up with hot chocolate on the couch. 

“Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær” – there’s no such thing as bad weather. While yes, Norwegians do also get cold, we also know how to dress appropriately for the elements. 

When my husband played college football this life skill definitely came in handy. 

I’d love to know what you thought of today’s episode! Let me know if you like some of these more personal/less business related ones too, and I might do more of these in the future!

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