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 17 May 2008 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!

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