Life in Norway

Culture Shock in My 3rd Home

I lived in the capital of Indonesia for around 18 years. I used to live in a small city in Southern Japan for 4 years of my bachelor life. Since I lived there for quite some time, I would call it as my home. Now I am spending my days in Norway, or to be specific Oslo – my 3rd home. But you know, things in one place and another are never the same. Hence, we all feel this “culture shock” whenever we visit or live somewhere new to us.

Full name: Zacky Dhaffa Pratama
Home country: Indonesia
Program at BI: MSc in Business Analytics

A friend of mine once said that culture shock was not caused by the difference between two or more cultures. But rather caused by our indifferent stance on other cultures. That are not ours by not willing to learn about them. While this statement might be a bit harsh for some, I think there is some bitter truths in it. I am not a sociologist or even a proper researcher in the first place. But I am going to share an observation that caught me off guard. Since it is quite different with my experience in Indonesia and Japan.

A view of street of Oslo from the top of Operahouse

I felt that Norway (or Oslo) is very diverse. I did not expect that before coming here. One thing I have learned is that you cannot guess one’s nationality here, just based on names or appearances. It’s a mix of people with diverse backgrounds and cultures. Even though some are immigrants, they are calling themselves Norwegians. A concept of national identity for a heterogeneous society that I did not anticipate coming from a homogeneous one. Namely Japan, and to some extent Indonesia.

Nights near Tsutaya (CD/DVD/Comics/Game Shop) in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.

Back in Japan, there is this sentiment that is shared among the foreigners who are living there. That they will not be considered as a Japanese. Perhaps, this is because administrative-wise- The highest level of permit that foreigners get is a permanent residence. It takes a lot of effort and time to have that in the first place. Indonesia shares the same thing with Japan, but I would say the condition there is much worse. This sentiment is very targeted to certain ethnicities and nationalities. Even the Indonesian who are the descendants of those ethnicities. Maybe this is due to our post-colonial mentality that still lingers in some people.

A street in Jakarta, Indonesia, where one of the local’s biggest mosque and church are located very close.

The diverse society in Norway allows different beliefs or religions to practice their duty without any eyebrows raising up. Being a Muslim (those who follow Islam as their religion) in Japan back then. It was quite difficult to find a place to do prayers, but not here in Oslo at least. I had no idea it was very convenience here to practice my religion.

The diversity also creates a pathway towards equality among its members of the society. To be specific, in regard to the gender roles. Whenever I go to school or back home while walking. I often see fathers bringing their children in a stroller for a relaxing walk by himself. I had never seen these two things back in Indonesia and Japan! Raising children is not a women-only role in the household as it is shared with the men as well. Which I think is a really great thing to do!

Just some silly things that I and my best friends – who came from different nations and cultures than mine – did

“Humankind is created so differently and diversely so that they can understand the others”.

That is one of principles I hold dear in my life. A future where humankind does not consider physical appearances, ethnicity, race, religion, etc. To communicate, get and do something together might be still far. Yet, Norway has already started and has been embracing that toward that future. Because of that, I think this is a nice place worthy to call home. At least that is for me, but how about you?