Norway: We’re not in Texas Anymore

       So, it’s 11:30 and the sun just set. We’re talking just dipped below the horizon, it’s barely dusk, the sky is blue not black kind of time…and it’s almost midnight! Weather aside, Norway is like no place I’ve ever been. Dr. Whitworth told us that Norwegians have certain qualities specific to them, and the Scandinavian region in general. They are egalitarian, humble, self-confident, connected to nature, and identify strongly with their county. They believe that everyone is innately good. They’re one of the most secular people in the world. So far through our explorations, I’ve witnessed the trait that manifests itself so differently here than in America: egalitarianism.
       Norwegian culture, economics, and social policies emphasize the welfare of the group– I know, as if being a Socialist country didn’t already say that but I’m a fan of stating the obvious. I saw this characteristic most especially in the Vigeland Park. Vigeland was a sculptor who donated all of his works to the city of Norway in 1921 in exchange for a studio and home on the piece of property which now constitutes the park. He spent the rest of his life completing sculptures and working around the grounds. I think the history of this park alone speaks to the egalitarian community. I mean who gives up their life’s work (200 sculptures) in exchange for a little cottage-studio? Beyond that, I think his sculptures represent the egalitarian spirit of Norway. His works show all stages of life and two of the focal points speak to a sense of shared work in pursuit of the greater good. 

The monolith was incredibly moving. The people depicted at the bottom are being crushed by the weight of the other figures towering over them, but the crowning figure of the monolith is a child. From hard work and sacrifice comes life and success.

The four men equally holding up the weight of the fountain symbolizes Norway’s sense of equality.

      This sense of common good struck me as so different from the United States’ individualistic, survival of the fittest mentality. Their interpretation of equality for all shone through not just in this park but in so many other areas of life. My first day has shown me how different two countries can be, but I’m excited to discover some common interests and shared values between this foreign country and my native one over the next few days we’re here in Norway. 

       -Babs

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