I recently traveled to Norway to present at an education conference in Sandvika, just outside Oslo. I have traveled internationally quite a bit in my 34 years on this planet, but I had not been outside North America since 2004. My reflections are as follows:
1. If you don't like American football (I don't) and do like real football (I do), you will be mistaken for a Canadian (not that there's anything wrong with that).
2. The US banks need to get with the times and issue Chip and Pin credit and debit cards. When the waiter at the restaurant calls swiping your card "running it the old fashioned way," and your colleague cannot pay at the gas pump, something should probably give.
3. I am thankful for and humbled by how much of the world speaks English, and I wish I knew more languages. American schools need to start teaching languages earlier.
4. I submitted a bill to the organization I was working with for some travel reimbursement and was notified that Norwegian banks no longer issue checks and the money would have to be wired electronically. No big deal, right? Come to find out, the small local credit union I use does not have an international SWIFT number necessary to handle the transaction. I like this particular local credit union, but I guess shopping local can have some limitations.
5. Educators in Norway are highly professional, take pride in their career choice, and are compensated adequately. I noticed the same when I was in Victoria, BC last year.
6. Trips to interesting places are much better when my wife comes along. I'm glad she got to join me on this trip.
7. Fish is best served raw, cured, at breakfast, and often.
8. IKEA in Norway looks, feels and smells like IKEA in the US.