Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Happy National Day!

Posted on 18 May 2008 15 comments

Article illustration for Happy National Day!

I rarely write ‘personal’ blog posts these days, so I hope you don’t mind the break in writing about web design, apps, tutorials, etc., but several people have asked me how I’ve been getting on since I moved to Norway a couple of weeks ago. It feels kind of weird that I haven’t really said much about it, so as today is National Day here in the land of the Vikings, I thought it’d be a good time to spill the proverbial beans.

Well, it’s beautiful here. Beautiful and quiet. I’m living in (and working from) a family house in Tyholt, which is in the suburban part of Trondheim that sits atop a large hill overlooking the city and fjord below. The views from the hill are amazing, and my walk down into town takes me past a medieval ‘fortress’; another great place to while away the hours appreciating the landscape. But don’t just take my word for it:

Article illustration for Happy National Day!

Besides the aesthetic appeal of Trondheim, the place is full of lovely, hospitable people, and there’s an atmosphere of calm throughout the city, where the pace of life is just that little bit slower to really make a difference. Today was a slight exception to that rule, as National Day involves pretty much everyone going into the city centre in traditional dress and watching the parades march through the streets. Those not in the full regalia are either tourists like me or students participating in ‘russ’ (pronounced “rooss”), an almost month-long celebration of the fact that they’re leaving school. This essentially involves them wearing large red, blue, or black hats and trousers (depending on the subjects they’re studying) with patches sewn over them, and white lab coats adorned with words and art. It’s quite a sight.

Article illustration for Happy National Day!

One thing that struck me when walking home today was the amount of trust that people have. Gardens (and garages with the doors left open) are packed with goods ripe for the picking, if one was so inclined. Conservatories at the front of houses proudly display their costly possessions without any fear (it seems) of theft or burglary. Not only does Norway have one of the lowest crime rates in the world, but I’ve yet to see any ‘trouble’ at all. In fact an English friend-of-a-friend who’s lived here for four years says that he’s never seen anything even remotely resembling a fight. It’s certainly refreshing to walk home from the bars at 3am and feel completely safe. Not many suburban towns in England could boast that same level of security.

Despite the great atmosphere in the air, the lovely setting, and the new friends I’ve made, I’m really feeling the expense. People often say, “ah, the beer is really expensive there, eh?” No. Everything is expensive! Of course it’s all relative because Norwegian wages are so high, but it hits the tourist hard. And if I’m feeling it, how do American visitors cope with the dollar being so weak? We’re talking $12 for a beer!

As those of you that follow me on Twitter will know, I’ve also been having a bit of a hard time with the internet. I’m tempted to go into exactly why it’s been so hard to get online since I’ve been here, but the details will bore you absolutely senseless. Unfortunately, being disconnected from the ‘net means a general feeling of disconnection from the world at large, especially from friends and family back home, and also from Samantha, who’s currently travelling through north Vietnam. Hopefully this situation will change soon, but for now I can only apologise for not being in much contact with everyone. It’s not good for business, either; I am a web designer, after all.

But hey, enough complaining. The reduced ‘net connectivity has resulted in me being fairly productive, and I spend too much time in front of the Mac anyway. I’ve been doing absolutely loads of walking in order to stay fit, and also to save the 30 NOKK bus fair (that’s around £3 or $6). I’ve also massively reduced how much food I eat, which again has both health and financial benefits.

For those of you who are interested, I’ve got two batches of photos up on Flickr so far: set 1 / set 2. I’m sure there’ll be a few more on there before I leave.

Ha det!

15 comments

  1. Debsterbug

    Debsterbug

    18 May 2008 @ 01:13AM #

    Wow. You’re living what would be a dream for me. I loved reading about your stay in Norway and really enjoyed the pictures. It would be nice, I think, to take a break of several months like you have done in Norway. Only my first choice would be Ireland. :) Anyway..really enjoyed reading this post and viewing the pictures.

  2. Dan Peterson

    Dan Peterson

    18 May 2008 @ 01:42AM #

    Glad you’re having fun even if a bit expensive. :) My girlfriend would be extremely jealous. It seems like she’s always talking about either wishing she could live there or a band she loves from there!

  3. cat

    cat

    18 May 2008 @ 06:25AM #

    Expensive. I know that one! But I’m coming from Thailand which is dirt cheap. When I’m in the UK (once or twice a year) I walk around all tense because it’s very difficult to get through a day without spending £50.

    So as you can imagine, I’m chuffed when heading to the US due to the drop in the dollar. It’s still expensive though …

    PS: I hope you share more of your life in Norway, or your life in general. Can’t be all work no play, right?

    Now off to see your gorgeous photos …

  4. cat

    cat

    18 May 2008 @ 06:53AM #

    Elliot, I was just talking to my husband about your Norway trip. When I mentioned the prices, he nodded.

    He’s also from London. Did his Ph.D. fieldwork in Norway (he’s a structural geologist).

    Says back in the 80’s, beer in Norway was £4 compared to £1 or so in the UK at the time. Ouch. Especially for students.

    He intended to stay in a rented caravan – 3 field seasons at 3-4 months each – but luckily a local family took him under their wing for the duration.

    Lovely people, they’ve stayed in touch after all these years.

  5. Kyle Meyer

    Kyle Meyer

    18 May 2008 @ 10:46AM #

    Good to see that things are getting on well, even if the connectivity woes are making things interesting.

    The views look absolutely stunning, and I’m sure there is some good inspiration to be had from such scenery.

    Enjoy the rest of your time there, being cut off from the interwebs isn’t always a bad thing. ;)

  6. prisca

    prisca

    18 May 2008 @ 02:21PM #

    Elliot – wow, looks like you’re in stunning surroundings with a very different life :)

    thanks for sharing your experiences and photos ;)
    hope you’re enjoying your stay – though I can understand how odd it must be to struggle to get online…

    enjoy your time there :-)

  7. Ian

    Ian

    18 May 2008 @ 03:19PM #

    Hey Elliot, good to hear things are going ‘sorta’ well in Norway. The internet can really hamper productivity anyway, even for web designers. :)

    I have a Norwegian friend who’s told me all about National Day and all the crazy celebrations that go on. I’ve never been but it sounds like a pretty cool place to visit. Living out in the suburbs is probably the best place to be and it looks like the place your staying at has an awesome view of the city.

    Seriously though, £6 a beer!? Why that’s enough to turn even the alcoholics teetotal. :)

  8. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    18 May 2008 @ 06:33PM #

    Thanks guys!

    @ Debsterbug: If I ever feel lonely or disillusioned with it at any point, I’ll remind myself that I’m “living the dream,” in your opinion. It’s nice that you think that! :)

    @ Ian: Yeah, the price does somewhat encourage sobriety! Actually, in an attempt to curb alcoholism, the government only allow it to be sold until 8pm on a weekday, until 3pm on a Saturday, and not at all on a Sunday! And if you want to buy wine or spirits, the only place you can get them is the aptly-named ‘Wine Monopoly’, which is state-run. Crazy, eh?

  9. Tor Máhtte Eira Mathisen

    Tor Máhtte Eira Mathisen

    19 May 2008 @ 11:53AM #

    God dag!

    I must say, it seems like you’re living you life to it’s fullest. Trondheim is by far the most beautiful city in all of Norway.

    The prices are fine for us who actually live here and make a living here, but I do notice it when I go to Finland every weekend to buy beer that it’s a lot cheaper in Finland.

    88NOK for a 12pack to be exacct, and 144NOK(ish) for a 24pack, whilst in Norway you have to cash out almost 300NOK for a 12pack of pints, and over 160NOK for a 12packs of bottled beer. And I don’t even want to mention how much the 24packs cost.

    A bit of information no one can use for the good of mankind!

    Ha en flott dag!

  10. Magnus Jepson

    Magnus Jepson

    19 May 2008 @ 05:17PM #

    Yeah the prices are higher than other countries, but so is the average salary :)

  11. Rick Hurst

    Rick Hurst

    19 May 2008 @ 11:15PM #

    Unless I haven’t been stalking you diligently enough, one thing you haven’t mentioned is why you have chosen to be in Norway? Work related? Friends in Norway? Random? All these questions and more :)

  12. Matthew Dick

    Matthew Dick

    28 May 2008 @ 04:11PM #

    Awesome to hear it’s all going well. The pictures are beautiful. I will be in touch soon, a quiet day here at work, so I will attempt to get an email to you soon.

  13. Ben

    Ben

    07 June 2008 @ 12:43PM #

    Welcome to my country! Glad you like it. Trondheim is an especially nice city. Lived there for a year myself. How long are you staying?

  14. Celeb

    Celeb

    12 June 2008 @ 10:48PM #

    happy national day and to all many more.

  15. Mia

    Mia

    18 June 2008 @ 02:15AM #

    Wow, Norway? I just visited your site because I remembered that you recommended a html editor once, and now I see you’ve moved to Norway, and Trondheim. Maybe because of google, yahoo?

    Well, anyway, the high prices are actually quite forgiving when you think of the free healthcare and all kinds of free social help. You loose your job? No worries, the goverment pays you rent. You need surgery? As good as free. And when people feel safe -> lower crime. It’s as simple as that.

    Hope you enjoy your stay in Norway. And since your in Trondheim, visit Nordland!!! Very cheap if you buy a trainticket on the internet!!! It’s close to you, and very beautiful, if you havent already been there.

    http://www.visitnordland.no/

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