Svorsk Swedes in Norway

I’ve lived in Norway 10 months now. I came here for the same reason as nearly 150 000 other Swedes: to work and save money. I work in the service industry and I work a lot. I share apartment with two other Swedes that also work at hotels. We are young and we go out a lot but we never let in influence our day jobs. We still complain about the cost of living in Norway although our salaries are set accordingly. We save less money than we expected but we like it here better than we thought.

We don’t live in a collective house in Grünerløkka and I wouldn’t say that we are “Party-Swedes” (see video below) but other than that we represent the typical Swedish workers in Norway quite well.

Norway’s economy is booming and the capital Oslo is growing fast.

Unemployment in the country is a little under 3% at the moment. On the other side of the border, 25% of Swedish young people are struggling to find work. No wonder we go west.

In fact, in central Oslo, roughly every 10th person i Swedish.

If you ask a Norwegian company manager why they often times prefer to hire a Swede instead of a Norwegian they’ll say that Swedish workers are more service-minded and hard working. There is even talk about Norwegians being lazy. I think in truth, young people in Norway today just don’t appreciate the standard of living that emerged with the findings of oil supplies. Norway is quite a newly rich country but the generation growing up today don’t know anything else. So the Norwegians have their eyes on high status jobs, often times in the finance or shipping industry, and the other jobs – they leave to Swedish and Polish people.

Norwegians themselves admit that Norway wouldn’t have managed without us. And us Swedes, we return home rich or go travelling until we need to go back to Norway for a new travel fund. It’s a win-win situation but we don’t know what it means for the future of our countries.

I don’t know any hotel, restaurant, café or bigger clothing store that doesn’t have any Swedish staff but at my work place I am the only one at the moment. And so last Friday when my manager called me in the morning and asked if I could do an interview with a TV-team that were headed to our hotel in ten minutes and wanted to talk to one of our Swedish co-workers, I didn’t have much choice. I was on my way to yoga class, with greasy hair and no make-up but I said I could be at work in half an hour, knowing my manager really wanted the publicity on TV.

Me and my Norwegian colleague Karoline were filmed in the front desk and by chance one of our regulars happened to come and thank us both with a box of chocolate, so we got that on tape and some good shots of the hotel. They asked us a couple of questions about the difference between Norwegians and Swedes and how we work together. Karoline is one of the most ambitious, service-minded and friendliest people I’ve ever worked with, and all my other colleagues do a great job, so I don’t think it’s a matter of nationality but rather personality.

The 5 min clip was shown on the TV news that night and there is a link on the web, but I’m not telling 😉

Swedish and Norwegian is very similar but to make it easier at our work places, we tend to speak a kind of “svorsk” – a totally unique, random blend of Swedish (svensk) and Norwegian (norsk). We don’t give this made up language a lot of thought, but someone recently told me it has become an issue in kindergartens where a lot of Swedish workers influence the children’s language, especially if the children’s parents have yet another origin. Imagine the language confusion at home.

Swedes and Norwegians are also very similar kind of people, although I’d say Norwegians are more nature-loving and less pretentious than Swedes. And of course, we love to make fun of each other.

Here is a mockery rap song that was popular last summer about all the young Party-Swedes.


There was also a funny TV-program called “Svensker er mennesker” (“Swedes are also people”) and the popular TV-show host “Skavlan” was recently awarded by the Nordic Culture Fund for his “svorsk” – and his way of joining the two languages.

Borders are meant to be bridged.