It's time for this week's So Your Character is ... Post! This is a weekly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country or having a disability. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last week's So Your Character is from Austria ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!
Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts are as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.
(None of the Images are Mine)
My name is Tuva Tovslid (29). I recently moved back to the south of Norway after nine years in a city farther north (I miss the northern lights). I have a master’s degree in social and cultural psychology. I have not found a steady job yet, but I am working at a school.
My two main hobbies are writing and bouldering. I have gotten my first book accepted by a publisher and are working on making it ready for publishing. Besides that, my husband and I (among others) are building a bouldering center for the local climbing club.
What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
What feels most special to me about Norway is the wild nature: the mountains and the coastline. That, and the long and bright summer nights.
We celebrate our national day The Norwegian Constitution Day on the 17th of May. It is a day where family and friends eat breakfast or dinner together. There is a Children’s parade, singing, and a lot of waving of flags. When I was a child, I got to eat as much ice cream as I wanted on that day. Definitively a day for celebrations.
Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
It is normal for Norwegians to have a small family cabin, to take refuge in during long weekends and holidays, to unwind and live close to nature. More than a specific place in Norway, some of these cabins are my favorite places.
I love that so much of the Norwegian nature is still wild. I love the first green spring days in the forest, the mountains in the clear autumn, swimming in the sea during warm summer days and skiing under heavy snow laden trees during the winter. However, the winters have been greyer and with less snow lately.
Tell me about your country's food. What are some of your favorite dishes?
Traditionally, Norwegians ate a lot of fish and sheep and potatoes. My favorite traditional dish has to be salted and dried lamb meat. It is later cooked and served with potatoes and other root vegetables. We use to have it for Christmas.
For breakfast and lunch, Norwegians eat a lot of whole grain bread with spread. The traditional and popular spread is brown cheese from goat milk (caramel-like but with a tang), salted sausages, and jam from strawberries and raspberries. Many Norwegians also pick blueberries in the autumn and make jam from that.
Tell me about any different speech patterns in your country. Slang? Idioms? Words for things such as “biscuits” instead of “cookies”?
I think one of the more special Norwegian words are “koselig”. This blog describes it best: It defines something/someone /an atmosphere that makes you feel a sense of warmth very deep inside in a way that all things should be: simple and comforting.
With so many communities isolated by water and mountains, Norway has many strongly developed dialects that sometimes make us misunderstand each other. I have heard that our dialects make it a real challenge to talk to Norwegians even though you have learned to write it.
We have two official ways of writing Norwegian, both are mandatory at school. Bokmål is maybe the most used written form. It is strongly influenced by Danish. The other form of Norwegian, Nynorsk, comprises of a collection of all the different dialects that developed from old. Most of us talk with a dialect though, whether we write in bokmål or nynorsk.
Describe briefly a regular day in your country.
Work normally starts at eight am, school about the same. Most people get up, eat cereal or a slice of bread. It is also normal to make a sandwich to bring for lunch. Then you ride your bike/car to work and stay until around four. Kids are picked up from school or kindergarten, food gets shopped, dinner cooked and eaten. Usually, the whole family eat together.
However, many families are busy with after work or after school activities and struggle to find time to sit down together. Normal activities are football or other sports, lessons in musical instruments etc. Grownups and parents often go out to exercise. Then it is time for some TV or pc-time, a final meal and sleep (preferably before midnight).
How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?
Though there has been a change, Norwegians are still known to be active. Many ride their bike to work, use their free time to hike and teach their children to take care of nature. But Norway is seeing more and more life style problems connected to less physical activity and less healthy food.
Politically, Norway is considered to be one of the most developed democracies and states of justice in the world. The socialism is still strong in Norway. We have as good as free mental and physical health care, and free education, including university level education. This year, Norway was ranked as the happiest country in the world, according to The 2017 World Happiness Report. This article sums up a lot of the good things that makes us happy to live in Norway.
Culturally, Norwegians are quiet but honest and trusting. We try to not meddle in others business. This might come off as excluding, and loneliness is a consequence for some, but it allows for a relaxed atmosphere where you are left to do your own thing.
|King Harald V|
The Viking era is an important period for Norway, bringing the world into our small and faraway country. The liberation of Norway in 1814, when we got our own constitution, is another important event. Also, I think the work that is done on gender equality are one of the main reasons Norway have gotten where we are, with our small population (5.2 mill now).
What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you? What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
One cultural stereotype is that Norwegians are a cold people. I can understand why some get that impression, but it is a result of the “mind your own business” mindset I described earlier. Most Norwegians are really friendly and ready to trust you. If you come at us directly with a lot of noise or casual familiarity however, we will be uncomfortable, simply because we are not used to it. In Norway that kind of behavior often hints that the person might be a little off.
I have not seen a lot of Norwegian representation in foreign movies, books or TV.
Maybe in Norwegian media, it is popular to paint Norwegians as whiny and complain a lot instead of realizing how good we have it. But I think this perception of Norwegians is seen in the light of us not having any right to complain, and not from Norwegians actually being less pleased than others.
What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
As I said above, I have not seen a lot of Norwegian representation in foreign movies, books or TV. I mostly read and see foreign books and movies. But a lot of the established Norwegian writers writing in a Norwegian context are true to the culture and country.
Who are your top three favorite characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?
It is actually Swedish, but Ronja the Robber's Daughter is a lovely children's book of a robbers family and clan living in a fortress in the forest. The movie shows so much gorgeous nature that is the same in Norway. And Ronja is a bad a** warrior girl.
Thank you, Tuva, for this very informative post! I hope everyone enjoyed reading it. Come back next week for So Your Character is from Sweden ...!
Are you interested in participating in this project? Check out the tips archive to see which countries have been filled and if you're from a different country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com. I'm especially looking for Spain, Denmark, Kenya, Argentina, Iraq, and Egypt.
Do you have any characters from Norway? Did this inspire you to write a Norwegian character or set a book in Norway? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Tuva? Be sure to thank her!
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