From the moment I saw the black and pink sign hanging on a storefront in Oslo, I was obsessed. Obsessed with the modern design of the store’s interior, excited by the trendy music playing in the background, and in love with the attractive baristas making the best assortment of coffee, juices, and smoothies.
Joe & the Juice became a necessary stop in every Scandinavian country we visited, and I even went so far as to ask for a handfull of their logo stickers to wear on my shirt. As my cultural artifact, this coffee shop is a perfect representation of what I love most about Scandinavia- the slow paced lifestyle, health conscious habits, and people-centered values.
Firstly, the store doesn’t open until 10 am which is a perfect reflection of the leisurely mornings that these Europeans enjoy. A slower-paced lifestyle trumps the daily American frenzy as customers sit down to enjoy their drinks rather than rush on to their next stop. Secondly, the coffee shop serves tropical fruit juices and fresh exotic smoothies which reflects the health conscious, active lifestyles that these avid biking cities promote. And most importantly of all, the friendly interaction between baristas and customers reminds me of the value that Scandinavians place upon the rights and dignity of all human beings. Here, the government is structured as a social democracy. Public healthcare, education, and retirement homes ensures a higher standard of living for the population as individuals forego personal income to promote the overall wellbeing of their country. Furthermore, their prison system is based upon rehabilitation rather than punishment because they believe that all humans deserve the right to a better life.
If I’m taking away one thing from this trip, it would be admiration for a group of countries that have successfully balanced the need for sacrifice and the desire for achievement to ensure all citizens are able to benefit from a higher quality of life.
Goodbye Norway. Goodbye Denmark. Goodbye Joe & the Juice. I’ll always be your number one fan.