After reading What’s Weird About Norway, Halvor Theng invited me to do a Q&A with his high school students for their course on intercultural communications. I had a great time reading and responding to their questions and thought it was worth sharing.
- Q: Have you ever done anything illegal?
A: So many things.
- Q: Are you a secret agent of the government? If so, then that’s cool. If not so, then ignore this paragraph. (This computer will self-destruct in 5 seconds)
A: Deactivation code FOUR ALPHA NINER BETA SEVEN
- Q: You’re implying that we (Norwegians) suck at sports. But sir, may I remind you that we do have the best chess player in the world. (Yes it is a sport, look it up!) What is your comment on this?
A: I got to play against Magnus Carlsen during Bergen’s annual spillfest (eller noe sånt, husker ikke navnet) when he was 13 years old. He won without stopping to think even once.
- Q: What is the most peculiar gesture you have experienced?
A: The other day a friend put her fists out in front of her and shook her arms up and down. To her, this clearly indicated cooking. I have no idea how.
- Q: What are the English words for “risengrøt”, “fiskepinner”, “pinnekjøtt” and “hæ”?
A: Rice Porridge. Fish sticks. I don’t know, I’m not really into food. Seriously. Living in Norway made me detest eating. Pinnekjøtt’s some kind of meat. I’ve had it I’m sure. But I couldn’t tell you what it’s from, let alone the english counterpart. Talking about food makes me bored. Oh, and “huh”.
- Q: Do you have something you do every time you travel to a new country?
A: Buy a sim card, get to know the receptionist at my hostel and learn how to say “hello, thank you, this, how much, and numbers 1 through 10.”
- Q: Why do you dislike us (Norwegians)?
A: I love Norwegians! They tend to dislike me though. Can’t imagine why…
- Q: What is your favorite place in the world, and why?
A: Home. Traveling consistently is tiring. You need to find places along the way that you can call home. Even if it’s just home for a day, find a place you can relax and feel safe. You always feel better when you’re home.
- Q: Can you send us a gift from the next country you visit?
A: I prefer to keep my bag as light as possible. Sorry. Or should I say… sorry. Since Norwegians use English for that anyways.
- Q: Where in Norway did you live?
A: Må få kunne holde nokken ting private.
- Q: You are half Norwegian, what is your other half?
A: Like every American it’s Irish, English, Italian, French, Mexican, Spanish, etc.
- Q: What is your most personal experience in your life?
- Q: What is the most exciting country you have ever visited?
A: China. No one speaks English. There are crowds of people everywhere. Towns of population less than 5 million are considered small. And the landscapes are breathtaking.
- Q: What’s weird about you?
A: How much time do you have?
- Q: What are you writing about now?
A: Working on many stories, including a second, all new What Else Is Weird About Norway.
- Q: What influenced you to start writing?
A: Michael Crichton novels. And the worst action movie ever made: Daylight.
- Q: What food did you taste when you visited Norway?
A: Whatever my grandma cooks.
- Q: How many countries have you visited?
A: I don’t know. 20-30 I think. I’ll probably double that by the end of next year, though. I’m trying to see places I haven’t seen before.
- Q: Which places in Norway have you visited?
A: East, west, north, south, all over.
- Q: What is your favourite country? Why?
A: America. I fit in there.
- Q: When you travel, are you alone or do you have any traveling partners?
A: Now I travel alone. It’s nice to have someone I can be close to travel with me from time to time, but I always end up craving independence before long.
- Q: Do you have a girlfriend?
A: Hemmeligheter er hemmelige.
- Q: Which place were most strangest out of all the places and countries you’ve visited?
A: Probably, but definitely, Norway. Or maybe China. It’s a close call.
- Q: What kind of places do you like the most to travel to/ in? (Big cities, poor countries etc.)
A: Well, poor countries are cheaper, so I can travel longer and live more luxuriously. Big cities are pretty similar the world over, so they rarely excite me. Beaches are nice when the weather is right. But you will never be bored in the forest or jungle or mountains because waterfalls and animals and landscapes are always exciting.
- Q: Have you ever been caught by the police in any weird countries?
A: I’ve never been caught by the police in any country.
- Q: What is the most strict country you’ve been to?
A: Strict in what way? Norway is strict in that any deviation from the norm is immediately corrected by those around it. In fact, it’s quite similar Taiwan in that way. In both countries, out of the ordinary behavior will bring an onslaught of locals desperate to help you behave exactly as they do. But Myanmar (aka Burma) is strict in other ways. You can’t stray from the designated tourist spots without getting some attention from the government. As long as your VISA is in order, you’ll be fine. But it shows how closely the government follows activity within its borders
- Q: What is the weirdest country you have ever been to?
A: I could write 10 What’s Weird About Norways but still, it could never top all the idiotic things Americans get into.