Earlier this year, my husband and I left our home in North Carolina to spend 10 weeks volunteering in Stavanger, Norway. Stavanger is the fourth largest city in Norway, and its location on a peninsula on the southwestern coast with proximity to the North Sea has made it the center for Norway’s prosperous offshore oil industry.
This was our second visit to Norway—our first extended visit lasted 12 weeks in 2019. Although my paternal grandparents, Sigurd and Bertha Nygaard Wallem, grew up in southwest Norway, they immigrated to the United States in the early part of the 20th century, and until that 2019 visit, I had never had an opportunity to visit the land whose culture shaped my American family. After interacting deeply with Norwegians and experiencing their culture for six months split between these two extended stays, I’ve found myself surprised and delighted by many aspects of this beautiful Scandinavian country. Here are seven characteristics I especially appreciate about my ancestral homeland.