Columnist: Indigo is an American  studying at UiO, hoping to come closer to figuring out Norwegian society. She will be writing a biweekly column about how to navigate Norwegian life for Universitas.
Columnist: Indigo is an American studying at UiO, hoping to come closer to figuring out Norwegian society. She will be writing a biweekly column about how to navigate Norwegian life for Universitas.

Welcome to Norway – now fill out these forms

NO WAY I'M IN NORWAY! is a biweekly column about how to navigate Norwegian life, through all the confusion, frustration, and eccentricity that comes with this country.

You made it to Norway! You're finally here, enjoying the end of this questionable winter we're having. You may have already observed some of the most crucial elements of Norwegian culture, such as a passion for the outdoors, a love of coffee, and a penchant for ignoring other people.

Not so fast though – don't get too comfortable. You might have a handle on parts of the culture, but you don't really exist as a whole person here yet.

Have you reported to the police, to alert them of your presence? That's just the tip of the iceberg. Have you got a person number, to prove that you're really corporeal? It will get you far, but not quite there. Are you registered in the «folkeregister,» which is somehow different from registering with the police? Are you going to work here in any form? You better have gone to the tax office to prove you are who you say you are, using no less than three forms of evidence. Have you opened a bank account, and therefore received the codes you use to log in to every single website? That's expert level.

The world of Norwegian bureaucracy is wide and multi-layered. It goes deeper than you can yet imagine. Mastering it takes years of experience, and even then, there are new circles of Hell to discover. You thought the state would just take care of you for free without hassle? On the contrary, hassle is the primary form of payment. At times it will feel like your entire life in Norway is some kind of sadistic IQ test to see if you really deserve to live here.

Be sure to semi-constantly carry around a folder of all your important papers and documents. Mine is helpfully labeled «Important Papers,» in case someone wants to steal my identity.

And don't listen to Norwegians who try to tell you how easy things are. They're either lying, or they've never tried to leave the country and come back.

It just might all be worth it though-once you have your papers in order just sit back, relax, and enjoy that feeling of smugness creeping over you. It's all a part of your initiation and assimilation. Now you too can give condescending advice to new internationals about how they can become a functioning member of society! At least until it's time to renew your visa, and get caught up in the revolving door of madness all over again.