"Farai e disferai in continuazione il tessuto della tua vita, in attesa di trovare la sola esistenza che ti possa appartenere davvero”.
A few days after our arrival, it looks like I am back to school: I have school classes that last 4 hours, 4 days a week. I finished the long march of university exams just a few months ago, but this experience suddenly revokes fond memories of many years ago.
Gathered in a large room, where desks and backpacks are neatly disposed next to the windows, all students have to present themselves before the teacher: I head toward the large blackboard and I discover that my embarrassment hasn’t changed since elementary school.
Marianne, our young teacher, writes on the blackboard and we, her good pupils, repeat out loud the 26 letters of Norwegian alphabet. We slowly begin to sort some problems out, like the pronunciation of å (is our o), æ, ø (do you know how to pronounce bEUrre in French? Yes, that sound).
After the first lesson we are relieved and motivated to learn quickly: we know that verbs are not conjugated according to person or to time, the surrounding particles indicate “who” does “what” and “when”. This is a great relief for an italian, victim of subjunctive and conditional.
After a few lessons, we learn the demonstrative and possessive adjectives and pronouns: thanks God they are pretty simile to their English counterparts.
The weekend has arrived and we are ready to experience what we have learned so far. I cannot find the bread on the shelves of the supermarket: perfect. I know how to say bread, I can try to have a conversation with that store clerk, so funnily similar to the Barbie I had when I was a child.
“Anschild, vur ar broo?” (translated: Excuse me, where’s the bread?).
My pronunciation is horrible, but I can improve. I try again: finally she understood!
“You can find bread behind this corner. Have a nice day! “.
Big norwegian smile. No way, we are in Norway, not in England, so I don’t give up and I try again.
“Tusen takk”, I try to insist.
“You’re welcome!”. -_-
And then, among the shelves of Bunnpris, dragging down my green basket, I learn a very important lesson: it is not easy to speak Norwegian in Norway.
At school I study the Norwegian bokmål, a trace of the old Danish domination approximately spoken by the 85% of the population. Sadly, along the western coast (yes, where I live), multiple local dialects have combined to break the legacy of “colony” and Nynorsk language arose.
Furthermore, I have to face the problem of the extreme education of the natives: Norwegians can’t stand listening to people who are stubbornly looking for the right word, so they immediately “rescue” me and begin to speak English.
Unlike us, they have grown up with original-language movies and norwegian subtitles, so most of the population, children and the elderly, can communicate in English.
The temptation to cheat and to abandon the study of the local language is initially strong, but it takes just a moment to understand why it is worth insisting on studying.
First, the labour market. Unless you are an engineer who would work in an English speaking environment, any other profession requires a good level of Norwegian.
Then, the daily life. If you don’t speak Norwegian, you will not be able to read the morning paper, to understand what people are saying, to listen to the news.
All these things will allow you to gradually become part of this country.