Oops, I Forgot to Learn Norwegian
It wasn’t until we were wheels down in Oslo that I realized–oops, I forgot to learn Norwegian. It just didn’t make the pre-move cut. I hate to be the jerk who never bothers to learn a pleasantry or two, but here we are.
Which is why I really hate grocery shopping. It’s my most dreaded new-country activity (which isn’t actually saying much since it’s also my most dreaded home-country activity). And the longer I wait to do it, the harder and scarier it gets. And the more awkward I become around the cashiers. And the more I fumble the credit card machine. And the more hangry the whole bunch of us get. And so forth and so on…
Matt, trying to help me get over the hump, immediately sends me off to get some food. It’s cool. I can do this. It’s just Europe. No biggie. I gather breakfast together in about 5 minutes and then spend another 45 wandering around looking for ground chicken. There were all kinds of unrecognizable meats and a lot of things labeled “fisk.” Yeah, sorry Norway. I can’t do fisk. I went for the package that had a picture of a chicken on it, which I decided was pretty good marketing for someone like me.
By this time, I had bitten all my fingernails down to the quick. Why buying groceries is such a stress-inducing activity for me, I have no idea. I kept glancing over at the produce section, trying to ascertain the proper way to weigh my bananas. Didn’t see any plastic bags. Couldn’t spot the scales. Forget it. No bananas.
I’ve read that most Norwegians speak English and in my limited experience, this has been true. So why don’t I just ask, you say? Oh no no no. Mary doesn’t ask. Mary carefully and painstakingly observes and then does it right the first time. If Mary can’t do it right, Mary doesn’t do it…It can be a problem.
“Excuse me sir, where is your Kraft macaroni & cheese?” Just kidding. I didn’t ask that. I walked the aisles another 20 minutes until I found the Norwegian equivalent on my own. And I surprised myself because I didn’t even think they had mac & cheese. “American Classics” 😉 [Quick side note here. Old El Paso and Philadelphia Cream Cheese must be making a killing because no matter what country you’re in, they sell taco shells and cream cheese].
And guess what, I don’t even need to know Norwegian because I have this handy Google translate app that translates pictures. Yeah, that’s right, photographs. It’s amazing. Do I look like an idiot looking at everything through my phone? Yes I do. I might as well be carrying a selfie stick. But I’d rather do that than ask for help, because Mary doesn’t ask for help. Mary does it herself. You’re right, you’re right. Referring to oneself in third person is insufferable. Mary will stop.
So check this out. Here’s a poster at McDonalds as I see it on the left. And here, on the right is how it looks in the Google Translate app. Not bad, eh? It’s amazing actually. Sometimes I pull out the app just for fun.
I will definitely learn some Norwegian because I think you should learn the language if you’re in a foreign country. It’s yet to be determined how much. But probably not much.