Guest post: Sindre from Norway on what it's like to be in Florida
Hello everyone! Today I have a guest post written by Sindre Hauge Larsen, the Norwegian that I've lived with in Norway and recently came to live with me here in Orlando, Florida. He's going to tell us a little about what it was like for a Norwegian like him to live in Florida for two-and-a-half weeks!
Katie recently wrote about her experiences as a Floridian moving to and living in Norway over several months. She was not on vacation and she didn't get caught in tourist traps; she lived with me and experienced what daily life is like here. In February we switched roles, and it was time for me to visit her in Florida!
The very first thing I noticed when getting out of the airport was the warmth. Nope, I'm not saying I didn't expect Florida to be warm, but the contrast to Norway at this time of year was just... fantastic! I could actually go around outside in the middle of February with shorts, t-shirt and sunglasses while everyone I know back home would need to put on a thick jacket and a scarf just to get the mail. I couldn't help but enjoy that feeling!
We went to two beaches during my stay, first Siesta Key then Daytona Beach. I have to say, the sand at Siesta Key has to be the softest sand I've ever touched, the grains being finer than those of table salt. This is a big deal for a Norwegian where the "sand" on the few beaches I've been to is more like gravel. I know of one "nicer" beach in Norway called Sola strand, though it isn't really usable until late May to the end of July. In Florida they don't really care if it's winter or summer, it seems, there they go to the beach pretty much all year around!
In Bergen, I live without owning a car. Everything I need is in the vicinity of my apartment, and if I need to go somewhere further away, there are buses coming and going every five or so minutes. If you've been to Florida, you might agree with me when I say there are a lot of roads, a lot of traffic and lots of traffic lights. Everything's kind of spread out; to get anywhere you need to drive, and often quite far. I imagine one reason for this is because Orlando is laid out very differently from my home town; every single restaurant and shopping mall has its own, in many cases rather huge, parking lot, making each business take up a lot more area. This gets rid of the lack of parking space we have in Bergen (where you have to pay to park in a parking garage and then walk to wherever you need to go), but it also means you practically need a car. Luckily we did have a car!
When Katie lived in Norway, she noticed how everything was three to four times as expensive here than in the US. Well, me going over there, I felt I could afford anything and everything! Especially the food and clothing prices were hilariously low compared to what I'm used to. Even eating dinner at a restaurant several times a week was affordable for a student like me, something that'd force me to live on bread and water for the rest of the month back home. What's interesting though is how most of the really cheap food contains a lot of fat, while the healthier food costs pretty much the same as in Norway. The apples at Target were actually more expensive than what I usually buy. Luckily this didn't also apply to bananas, so I managed to get myself a fruit anyway! Another thing I found peculiar is how the American food industry describes the fat contents of the product by how much fat it does not contain; many products had "95% fat-free" (or a different number), basically saying "95% of this is not fat".
I really like how nice people in America are; heck, you can even start a nice conversation with a complete stranger. This usually just doesn't happen in Norway. Katie showed me a picture the other day of people waiting for the bus. The people were standing in a line, possibly a few meters away from each other, and were just staring out in the air. It had the caption "Waiting for the bus like a Swede". She thought it was hilarious, but I couldn't understand what was so funny about it - because that's how I too wait for the bus! Many times when I read about Americans who have been to Norway, they usually describe the Norwegians as a very angry people. This isn't necessarily true - we just have a habit of pretending any strangers we're forced to stand close to don't exist at all. We'll talk when talked to; otherwise we prefer being left alone. Americans don't seem to have this social block at all, making it both easier and more rewarding talking to random people.
My trip to Florida lasted two way too short weeks. I got to see what it is like actually living there - we went to physics classes, we went to a lot of restaurants (Olive Garden, Applebee's, Denny's, Five Guys, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse and several times to Chili's), we went to an American cinema, and we even went to the huge Florida State Fair. I had a wonderful stay, and I will definitely go back some time. For now, though, I'm stuck with classes again in cold Norway!
So there you have it! Thank you so much, Sindre! If you're interested in writing a guest post for me, contact me through e-mail. =)
And in case you're wondering, here's the image he's talking about. ;D