Before arriving in Norway I had heard different things from Americans who had visited the Scandinavian country - from the natural beauty and wealth from oil, to their "weird" people who were hard to reach or access. I'm not sure what I expected, but there did seem to be a consensus of respect for the society that Norway has created for its people, by my people - from education to health care to preservation of the environment.
Though my stay was quite brief, I fell in love with Norway. The landscape was both familiar and foreign to me - the verdant green rolling hills, evidence of an abundance of water, reminded me of Northern Michigan, while the scale and quantity of beauty was much larger than anywhere else I've been before. I saw just a glimpse of the natural beauty of Norway, staying on Norefjell for a couple days and leisurely walking/biking through Oslo for a couple days, but it was enough to know that I want to go back and walk, photograph, and sketch my way around the country. Even Elverum, which I was told by Norwegians is sort of a blasé small town, was charming in my eyes.
Upon my first impression, I found the Norwegians to be a kind, polite, and proud people. They drive politely, walk politely, and move through the world politely, which signifies an awareness of others. It's possible you could interpret this as standoff-ish, if you are used to direct and boisterous cultures, or you could look at it as refreshing. No one rolled down their car window and yelled vulgarities, no one whistled at the countless beautiful women, or looked at you weirdly. But they were inquisitive and eager to share their beautiful country.
One of my favorite things that I observed is that most people I met had a playful sense of humor, with twinkly eyes and crows feet along the edges. Maybe this was a cultural adaptation to what was once a difficult, pre-oil wealth-life, with many months of winter and little sun. Or perhaps it's the resiliency of a people who understand that what is important in life is to build and maintain a society that is inclusive of differences. Or maybe it's because there are trolls there. Either way, I'd highly recommend visiting Norway.
+ History: learn about the Nazi occupation of Norway and Norwegian resistance during WWII
+ Bike anywhere - always the best way to see a place. Unless you have access to a sailboat, that's cool too.