This article is part of the The Great American Reach Around series.

Enok "kjetting" Moe

Steinkjer, Norway

Like all other European countries we Norwegians hate the US. Well, "hate" is a pretty strong word. It's actually more that we think ourselves to be superior to you in every conceivable way. Don't feel bad about us thinking that, though. We are that way to everybody, especially our own neighbours. You can't discuss anything with a Norwegian, because we will always make ourselves the subject of the discussion. We will use any excuse to point out that statistics show that our nation has the highest living standards in the world, like I did just now.

We long badly for the rest of the world to see how great we are or at least acknowledge us. At least we want to be idolized by someone other than just god damn neo-nazis. Is that too much to ask? We gave the world such great inventions, like the cheese slicer! And the paper clip! ...What's that? We didn't patent the clip first? And our cheese slicer is inferior to later designs? Well at least we got the world in an iron grip because of our oil!

We also like to think we are the greatest at every sport there is, as evidenced by our domination in crosscountry skiing. Yet our mighty northern titans falling across the finish line draped in stalactites of frozen snot aren't that impressive since any worldwide crosscountry skiing event is more like a national Norwegian championship with a few Italians and Russians thrown in.

Steinkjer (pronounced "stain chair") is a small town right in the middle of Norway. It's a 'small town' in American scale, yet in Norwegian measures it's well above average. When talking to people online, I usually explain that I live in a rural part of Norway. This is comparable to saying you live in a hot part of the sun's surface.

The only exception is Oslo, our capital, and this is why it's a stupid mistake to base your views of Norway on observations made in Oslo. Since Norway is mostly one long mountain range along Scandinavia's coastline, settlings are small in size, and houses are far between. Cities and towns were naturaly formed whereever there was a valley big enough to put up more than ten houses. Flat land is nonexistant, and everyone lives in a slope.

Steinkjer is delightfully average and a great representative of 90% of Norwegian cities. We have a soccer team that everyone supports no matter what, mountains surrounding us on every side, no real criminal activity, a stage where Judas Priest played in the eighties, at least three Turkish pizza restaurants, and a local newspaper. Just like every other town in Norway.

The town celebrated its 150th birthday this year under the motto "Open, bright and happy". These three adjectives might seem like a really vague motto, but we have just run out of ideas for how to give our city some identity. We tried being "the IT city" until we realised other cities had computers as well. We were "The town of villages" for many years, whatever that means. There were two books released about Steinkjer this year, and they were called "A town in Norway" and "A town in Norway 2".

I know I'm supposed to end this by adressing common misconseptions about my country, but most of them are actually either true or were started by attention-hungry Norwegians. To avoid getting too much heated hatemail I'll just end this article right here on that note.

So long and "sug kuk i helvete".


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