Blog Culturas

Blog Culturas

BNCC and Culturas bring together ambassadors and lusophone community in Oslo

NewsPosted by blog Tue, November 29, 2016 11:18:00
Together with the Embassy of Brazil and the Embassy of Portugal, the Brazilian-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce (BNCC) and Culturas invited the lusophone community to discuss the role of Portuguese as a language in Norway.

At total, 45 Portuguese speakers attended the event on November 24th at the African Cultural Institute in Oslo. The main goal of the evening was to strength the network among professionals who speak Portuguese in Norway.

Since 2014, BNCC and Culturas hold the Annual Brazilian Professionals meeting, and this year, the event extended the invitation to all Portuguese speakers, native and learners, including people from Portugal, Mocambique, Angola and Norwegians.

The ambassador of Brazil, George Monteiro Prata, and the Ambassador of Portugal, Clara Nunes dos Santos, joined the event and presented the importance of this language in the world. After a mingling session and refreshments, the participants were invited to a Brazilian movie session to watch Caramuru (Guel Arraes).

CEO of Culturas Larissa Costa Slottet introduces the guests
BNCC director, Harald Martisen, the ambassador of Portugal, Clara Nunes do Santos and the ambassador of Brazil, George Monteiro Prata

Are Norwegians rude?

ArticlesPosted by blog Thu, January 28, 2016 22:18:39

Probably one of the most common stereotypes that you will hear about Norwegians is how their demeanor can be a bit cold or reserved at times. Most expats will tell you this, and most Norwegians will almost talk about this stereotype with pride. A few things you might hear are, “Nobody talks to their neighbors." “You don’t make friends in the gym.” “People will look at you like you’re crazy if you talk to them in public.” “The only acceptable time to talk to a stranger is when you are hiking.” The list goes on and on, but the comments are always about how people have a bubble, both social and physical, and you need to to respect that bubble at all times.

Well, I am going to have to stand up for Norwegians and say that this stereotype is just not true. Okay, I need to be fair and say that my experience is repetitive of the entire expat community. Some expats may have found Norwegians to be a bit cold and reserved, but I have found Norwegians to be quite the opposite. The only exception is the woman at the post office, but I guess bad experiences at the post office is a stereotype that can cross any border.

I have never been shy, and I have never had a problem talking to complete strangers. I guess that I get it from my mother who feels the need to say howdy to every stranger she has ever met in a line. I talk to my neighbors, people at the gym, and people in the park all the time. Nobody has been rude or unpleasant to me, and I have even made a few friends. So what is going on here? I am either an anomaly or I am completely oblivious to how uncomfortable I am making Norwegians.

My opinion on the matter is that Norwegians have bought into the outdated stereotype of being reserved and have now begun to use it as an excuse to be rude when it suits them. However, expats feel that Norwegians are cold because most Expats are too afraid to push through the initial awkward conversation because they fear that they might offend.

My advice to expats is to keep pushing a conversation with a Norwegian forward, no matter how awkward it may be. Norwegians are just like everybody else on earth and want to talk about their lives and connect. It just may take a few more minutes. You should also not be so scared to offend someone. Trust me, Norwegians have extremely thick skin and are very skilled at sarcasm, so just take everything said as light humor.

My advice to Norwegians is to stop buying into this whole reserved act. I have seen you after a few beers, so we are way past that charade. Don't pass your neighbor or co-worker on the street without saying hello, be friendly to expats, but don't tell me that you being rude is a part of the culture. It's not!

I know Norwegians to be friendly, inviting, helpful, curious, hilarious, and incredibly kind. Change the stereotype to reflect how your culture truly is.

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

2015 review in 10 episodes

VlogPosted by blog Mon, January 04, 2016 09:41:13

First things first: the Culturas team wishes a happy and productive new year to all of our readers! 2015 has been a good year and great things are coming in 2016, so stay tuned!

Meanwhile, here you can find one of the projects of last year. Throughout 2015, Culturas vlog gave 10 adaptation tips for expats living in Norway. From recycling, to winter clothes and Norwegian classes, you can find all episodes in our YouTube channel ( oslo). The last one was a special Christmas edition, take a look:

Danger in Rio

ArticlesPosted by blog Mon, December 21, 2015 16:59:49

It’s true, Rio de Janeiro is a dangerous city, but it is not as dangerous as some make it out to be. I think that I need to admit that I have been mugged in Rio, and many of my expat and Brazilian friends have been mugged there too. In this post I will explain what it feels like to get mugged and how to avoid being mugged, so you can go on to live a happy and safe life in your new location.

I got mugged on a beautiful Friday night. Warm with a nice breeze, the weather was perfect. My husband got off work, and we decided to go to our favorite Bruschetta place, Prima, to share a bottle of Cava. One bottle turned to two, and before we knew it, we had to head off to our dinner party. It seemed like a crime not to walk to our destination since it was such a lovely night. Tempted to walk along the beach, we knew better because we heard stories about gringos getting mugged along the beachside at night. We took the main street down, crossed the bridge from Leblon to Ipanema and turned down the street that would lead us to our destination, or so we thought.

We turned onto the Av. Vieira Souto, which is the street where the beach is, but we were still two blocks away from our destination! Thanks a lot, Google Maps. My gut told me that we should go back and go down the right street just to be safe, but the two bottles of Cave told me that it was just two blocks and that we would be fine. We started casually walking down the street laughing when all of a sudden two children were feeling my pockets. I thought that they were begging for money, so I simply told them that I did not have any. My thought process was, “Okay, they just want money. They sure are aggressive for beggars… OH, they had knives. WHY ARE THEY JABBING AT ME? What do they want? Okay, phone. Phone it is. Here is my phone. Go on now. GO.” I gave them my phone, and they moved to my husband, who held a bag in front of him and said, “No Telefone.” A doorman from a building came out and scared the two kids away before they took my husbands phone. It was over. We, I mean, I had been mugged. The only thing left to do at that point was to go to our dinner party and drink until getting robbed by a 10-year-old was funny.

I hope that you will never be mugged, but give them whatever they ask for if you do find yourself being mugged. There is nothing you own worth getting hurt over. The only friends of mine who have been hurt were the ones who fought back. DO NOT FIGHT BACK. The reason they send children to mug you is that they cannot be held in prison. You never know who is watching and if there are more of their older friends ready to jump in.

Here a few things that you can do to avoid getting mugged.

1. Don’t wear jewelry or flashy items. If an item holds any real or emotional value to you, don’t take it out of your house. A distraught Australian woman asked me at the police station if I thought there was any hope of the police finding her irreplaceable earrings. I almost giggled, as I told her no, which did not seem to please her at all. Most people wear their wedding bands, but I would not wear a big diamond ring if you are lucky enough to have one. Don't wear anything dangly that is gold or silver colored. Thay will take it whether it is fake or not.

2. Keep an eye on your things at the beach: Make sure that all of your items are in front of you and that you can see them at all times. I had a friend who hung her phone, cash, and credit cards off the side of her chair and sure enough, her things were gone within the hour. It is not just strangers who will take your things at the beach; it is the vendors too, so be careful of where you put your things. However, you will be asked to watch other people’s items all the time. As a gringo, you are somehow trustworthy and usually, Brazilians first to look after their things while they go into the water. Leaving your things with other people is your judgment call.

3. DO NOT WALK ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT. It is okay when the sun first goes down because the streets are full of people, and there is a ton of traffic, but around 20:00 is when it starts to get a little bit iffy. A good rule of thumb is, if it’s dark and no one is around, you should probably go there. It is okay to go to a kiosk along the beach at night if you are with a group of friends, but still make sure there are no dangling bags of the sides of chairs.

4. Don’t put your phone or wallet on the table. Someone can run by ant any time and grab and run off with it. The waiters in Rio are really good at telling you to put your things away and scaring off unwelcome company.

5. Avoid tunnels. You will not run into many tunnels that you will walk through in Rio, except one. There is one that will take you from Copacabana to Rio Sul, which is a huge shopping mall and office building that holds many Norwegian companies and the Norwegian Consulate. I would advise you never to walk through this tunnel. It is not very long, but it is very dangerous. Many people have mugged in this tunnel, and I have a friend who was assaulted.

6. Women should never take cabs alone at night. Brazil does have a chauvinistic culture, so a woman arguing with a chauvinistic driver in any way can lead to major confrontation. Many of my female friends have had very bad and even creepy experiences with their cab drivers.

The main piece of advice that I can give you is never to feel too comfortable in Rio. Most stories about a gringo getting mugged have one thing in common, and that is that they have felt too at home in Rio de Janeiro. It is important to remember that you are not in Norway any longer, and there are many people ready to take advantage of you if allowed the opportunity. You are a gringo. You look like a gringo. You indirectly act like a gringo. Remember this and always be aware, always keep an eye open, always keep your guard up. Annnnnnnnd maybe not get super drunk.

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

Opportunities for Norwegian students to study in Brazil

NewsPosted by blog Mon, December 21, 2015 16:53:03

BNCC (Brazilian-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce) and University of Oslo will gather Norwegian students on February, 3rd to talk about the range of opportunities to study in Brazil.
The meeting will be held at grupperom 1, on 3rd floor of Georg Sverdrups Hus, Blindern Campus from 14:30 to 16:00.

Culturas team will be part of the program and will discuss the importante of cross cultural training for students living abroad. The event also include a presentation of The Senter for internasjonalisering av utdanning (SIU) about the reasons to choose Brazil as a place to study, testimonials from students and a coffee with mingling.

If you are interested to participate, send an e-mail to Please register before January 30th.

Vlog EP 09: Get ready for ski season!

VlogPosted by Marianna Thu, November 26, 2015 11:06:07

The temperatures are dropping in Norway and you know what it means, right? Ski season is coming soon! In this new vlog episode, the video introduces what you need to know about ski in Norway: what are the styles, where to buy the ski gears, where to practice in Oslo, and many more!

Have you tried skiing before? Share your experience with us! Leave a comment or post pictures on Instagram using the hashtag #culturasonthego #weloveculturas

The Three-Month Slump

ArticlesPosted by blog Mon, November 23, 2015 10:09:39

Recently, I woke up and stared out the window for a full hour before getting out of bed. I thought of nothing, but I kept staring out my window at the few leaves that had not yet fallen from the tree in my back yard. Since that day, getting out of bed became a struggle, and all of my obligations were met with indifference. My workouts became low in energy, I stopped writing, and I stopped studying Norwegian. I did not feel sad or lonely, but I did feel very apathetic about my life in Norway. Some may call this depression, some may blame it on the weather becoming cold and dark, but it is nothing more that a common expat problem called the three-month slump.

The three-month slump may not be a clinical diagnosis, but it is a very common problem that many expat spouses face. I have faced this problem both in Norway and in Rio, and I have also spoken to many other spouses in both countries who have felt the same way. I am sure that everyone’s reasoning why is different, but the common thread does seem that people tend to feel a little depressed after three months of living in a new country.

Why three months? Well, three months is just enough time for all the glittery newness of a city to wear off. Nothing is special or exciting, and the usual habits of one’s relationship creep back in. The language skills needed for survival are usually acquired after three months, and any language training becomes more of a hobby than a necessity. A few friends are found, but no strong bonds have yet formed, and you wonder if you are friends with those people just because they are in a similar situation. Simply put, three months is the time it takes for one to understand what their life will be like in that particular country.

It would be unfair to generalize why people go into the three-month slump, but for me it was linked to purpose. I constantly worked before I moved to Rio, and I loved doing it. For me, working has always been a beautiful distraction from life and it gave me complete and total freedom over my finances. Giving up financial freedom and losing purpose from my day to day made me feel as if I lost all control over my life. I constantly wondered if I had made a huge mistake about moving to Rio and thought about all the other possibilities that could have been. The worst part was that I had all the time in the world to think about these issues and wallow in self-doubt and pity. I wanted to express my feelings to my partner, but it is hard for the person who is working to be empathetic to your situation. Not being able to get an empathetic response made the whole ordeal isolating and lonely.

What did not help the three-month slump? Suggestions. Suggestions from your spouse or other people are not helpful and downright annoying. I understand that people what to be helpful, and that is great, but telling someone in the three-month slump that they should teach English, volunteer, study, go for a walk, develop a hobby, etc. is telling someone something they have already thought of a thousand times over. The most important thing you can do for someone in the three-month slump is to listen and show as much empathy as possible. Giving suggestions is a form of sympathy and will only make someone feel further detached and alone. Truly try to feel with your spouse or friend and understand and support their feelings. It is common for expat spouses to group together and complain about their situation or problems they are having with the country. If you find yourself in this type of group, get out! Surrounding yourself with negative people will only prolong your three-month slump, and it can ruin your entire experience of living abroad. Living in another country should be an adventure, so you have got to find people who are in love with living in that particular country. Positive people will help see new possibilities and help lead you to find what you should do to make you feel fulfilled and happy.

What does help the three-month slump? This is a complicated question because everyone had different needs that must be met. One thing that helped me was to write in a journal every day. Through writing, I was able to process my feelings and sometimes realize how ridiculous I was being. The other thing that helped me out was implementing some real obligations throughout my day. I started walking dogs in Rio, and that was what finally kicked me out of my slump. Having someone or something depend on you each day will restore purpose to your life. I recently got a puppy of my own in Oslo to snap me out of my three-month slump here. The most important thing that you can do is to fake being happy. It is okay to feel down sometimes, but it can become a habit. Every time you have a negative thought stop yourself and turn that thought into the most positive thing you can think of like a hundred puppies running through a field of flowers. Thinking happy thoughts helped me view my surroundings in a whole new light and identify things and people who were counterproductive to my happiness.

The three-month slump can be a tough obstacle to overcome, but once you do, the country you live in will come alive again, and you can experience a true adventure. I have a favorite quote that I repeat to myself whenever I feel down, "Find what you love and let it kill you." Some may find this quote a bit depressing, but to me it means that life is too short to spend a moment hating it. Be happy, be positive, love your life, and let everything good consume your entire being until the day you die, or you can just get a puppy. It is either or really.

Written by Nicholas Williams, blog columnist at Culturas. American citizen with a Master in International Marketing Management, Nicholas worked in Rio de Janeiro for four years and is currently living in Oslo.

Let's get started: networking in Oslo!

VlogPosted by blog Tue, November 17, 2015 09:31:18

The new vlog episode gives ideas to start a social and/or professional network in Oslo.
Meeting interesting and influential people can change your experience in a new country. One of the groups is the Brazilian-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce (BNCC). Take a look at the video and share your thoughts with us!

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