After only 3 days in Oslo, I’m ready to claim Norway as one of my favorite countries that I have ever visited. I am absolutely blown away by the unique culture and history that exists here. For the past month, as I have travelled throughout Western Europe and a small portion of Eastern Europe, I have experienced a host of cultures that all felt a little bit similar. I don’t mean to say that all European cultures are the same – each country possesses its own unique distinctions that make it worthwhile to visit them all! But at the end of the day, I felt like each culture was a twist on the same underlying theme, and after a while, they all started to blur together.
Yet, these past couple of days have convinced me that there is something special about Scandinavia. In many aspects, Norway stands out from the rest of continental Europe in my mind. One of my goals for the trip for to delve into Viking/Scandinavian history, and I have been so rewarded the last two days with constant history lessons that I have actually really enjoyed. From tour guides and museum exhibits, I have learned so much about Norway, and that excites me! The history and culture of Norway have rich folk backgrounds, hardy Vikings and adventurous explorers, and incredibly original contemporary art. Every part of this city seems to be intentionally steeped in Norwegian culture; for example, the City Hall is built strictly from Norwegian materials and filled with Norwegian art. I think that because Norway is a relatively small and isolated country, it is able to forge those deep cultural bonds among its people. The country appears to be very unified in its identity.
Also, Norwegians’ love for nature is evident all over the place! At the Folk Museum, you could tell how intricately their lives were tied up with the environment from the vibrant floral decorations that covered nearly every artifact. At the Royal Palace, we learned that the Queen of Norway has visited every mountain in the country and recently demonstrated her commitment to the environment by picking up litter in one of Norway’s towns. Norway’s connection to nature seems to run deep in their roots, and I think that motivates them to be more sustainable and protect the environment. What you love is what you’ll prioritize, and it’s clear that Norwegians take enormous pride in their natural assets. Even in Oslo, you don’t have to go very far before you’re wandering through one of their many public parks and green spaces, like the Ekeberg park or the Akershus Fortress.
Oslo has been wonderful so far, and I have high hopes for the rest of our trip!