August got away from me and I can’t believe I haven’t blogged in over 2 weeks. School started and like most households with kids in school, we had to get back into the school routine…or in our case, create a somewhat new routine. I think we’ve found a groove now, though, so I wanted to share some info about housekeeping and recycling in Norway that I thought some of you may find interesting.
I never thought, beforehand, that just the simple acts of cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry would be difficult in Norway. You think you know how to do those things until you come face-to-face with appliances and products all written in a foreign language, some with settings that you’ve never encountered before.
I spent the better part of our first week in Norway Google Translating the appliance manuals (thankfully the landlord left them for us) so we could figure out how to use everything. You’d think it would be common sense, but the language really complicated things. Some of them, like the washer and dryer, didn’t have manuals and even the landlord couldn’t tell me exactly what all the settings were for, so we have no clue what we’re really doing when it comes to the oven, washer, or dryer, but we’re getting things cooked and washed and dried so I guess the settings we’re using are good enough.
Here’s some random, dorky observations/info about these foreign appliances that I thought some of you may find interesting:
— the oven has brackets on the inside that you slide your pans into. I went to several stores in search of baking sheets the first few days we were here and couldn’t find them. It was a mystery to me until a fellow Fulbrighter spouse here in Norway told me her neighbor told her that they use the baking pans that are in the bottom drawer of the oven. The pans that look like boiler pans to me.
– the first time we used the dishwasher we couldn’t figure out where to put the utensils. There’s no basket and I literally had to get out the manual to figure out that tucked in the top of the dishwasher is a third rack just for utensils.
– the dryer in this apartment is a condensation dryer, which we have grown to dislike VERY much because it takes FOREVER to dry a load of clothes, no matter how small. (Typically, it takes about 2.5 hrs for one load, which makes doing laundry all in one day–our preferred way–practically impossible.) Basically, the way this dryer works is that it’s not vented so it collects the water from the clothes in a compartment on the dryer that you have to empty when it gets full. It always feels so weird when I have to dump the water out.
Norway is very green (literally and figuratively) and we’ve spent the last two years recycling everything possible (so much that we had gotten our landfill trash down to just one bag for the entire week for four people before we left the U.S.), so we were happy to learn about the cool, innovative programs that Norway has initiated to increase recycling.
These are underground recycling containers. The ones with the blue doors are for paper and the ones with silver doors are for everything else…basically your landfill trash. These are near our mailboxes and require a key to open. On the street below are receptacles for boxes of any kind (cardboard or food boxes), metal cans, paper, and plastic that doesn’t have a “pant.” A “pant” is an additional charge that is added to your total bill when you purchase certain plastic bottles and drink cans (like a Coke can). The pants I’ve seen are anywhere from 1-3 NOK. The reason for this is to serve as an incentive to recycle them. Grocery stores have an automated recycling machine that you bring the empty bottles and cans back to and you get your pant money back. According to Wikipedia, in 2014, 95.4 percent of bottles and 96.6 percent of all drink cans in Norway were returned under the scheme. Quite impressive!
The landfill trash in the silver containers is collected and taken to a combustion facility where it is sorted and burned. The heat from burning the trash is used to convert water to steam, which is then sent to a turbine generator to produce electricity. This is how our apartment (which is only 5 years old) and other newer buildings are powered.
I’m working on a recap of our first month here, so I hope to post that one this weekend. Thanks for hanging with me on this kind of technical post and I hope you found all these little differences in housekeeping and recycling as interesting as I do.