What makes you happy? It’s usually the little things in life that make you feel happy. I realise that I had something like that in most places I lived (and some travelled). Sweet little things that make life just a little bit sweeter, every day!
The Netherlands – patat en frikandel speciaal
Hong Kong – egg tarts
United States – Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (at the time, they were only $2 a tub), cupcakes, everything is good!
United Kingdom – Toblerone white
Italy – gelato
Kenya – mandazi and mangoes
Spain – jamón, tortilla, churros con chocolate blanco
Thailand – coconut ice cream, mangoes, everything is good!
Cambodia – chocolate from The Chocolate Shop 240, mango vanilla milkshakes, sweet potato fries with curry mayonnaise
Egypt – shisha (so bad, but so good!)
Namibia – biltong and dried mangoes
Portugal – egg tarts
In Iceland, I enjoyed my daily breakfast with Kellogg’s Special K and milk. Not sure why, but the combination tasted differently there than anywhere else. But in Norway, nothing tastes the same. Not even Coca Cola Light, which is my biggest addiction. I haven’t been able to find anything else that would make every day a little sweeter. I tried all the potato chip flavours, ice cream flavours, there is barely any white chocolate here, let alone tropical fruits. Even apples taste more sour than sweet, as do the strawberries.
I’ve been wondering why I find it so hard to feel happy here in Norway. This is supposed to be a great place to live right? A dream for many. Yet, my sentiments here remind of me of how I felt while living in Egypt, which was at the time politically unstable.
Egypt and Norway are very different, so why do I feel similar? Food wise, it is similar; in Egypt, all local food tasted sour and salty to me and Norwegian food tastes similar, but more salty than sour. And while I had found one guilty pleasure of smoking shisha in Egypt, I haven’t had the urge to use snus here. So when food is happiness, both are lacking in both quality and quantity in Norway.
Both countries are not the most dog-friendly; one because the majority of the population hate dogs for religious reasons (or at least consider them haram), the other because the majority of the population is fearful of dogs and will easily report a dog as dangerous – after which you have a very small chance of seeing your dog again. There are breed laws here and a ban on the import of rescues. Most places like restaurants, bars, cafes and shopping malls and stores do not allow dogs and even dog people seem scared of other dogs and will usually demand you to leash your dog, expecting the worst from your and/or their dog. I mean, you’d think in the country of Turid Rugaas, people would be more knowledgeable about dogs, but I too often see people use aversive methods of training, labelling insecurity as aggression and using the “alpha roll” to dominate their dog.
So, while dogs are not “things”, Norway took part of the joy out of enjoying our sweet little (or big) “things”.
And when it comes to making meaningful connections, that has been difficult too. Not sure it’s because of my age now, the lifestyle we live as I am no longer young, wild and free, or the closed-off culture in Norway. It was definitely easier in other places, working for companies that hired young(ish) employees who were all transplants.
We’re bound to be stuck here for a little longer. So, as I write this on a rainy cold October day with very few external happiness factors, I hope I can look within and find the sweet little things there. If all fails, we should just plan a trip to Sweden/the Netherlands to buy some good food and refill our happiness cabinet.