Opposites and Oddities

Baffling or plain peculiar things observed over six months in a different continent (in no particular order):

  1. Reversed switches, doorknobs and locks

    Switches in Norway turn on when they are pressed on the top half (contrary to those I’ve seen in India, Singapore, and elsewhere). This confused me to no end on my first day in my apartment: I ended up gazing around the place for quite a while, thinking there was no electricity. Additionally, many locks on doors and some doorknobs open when turned counter-clockwise (when said lock or knob is located on the left side of the door), which to me was completely counter-intuitive.

  2. Right-side driving

    Since India and Singapore both have left-side driving, this reversal inadvertently had me looking in the wrong direction when crossing the road, causing unexpected distress to vehicular brakes. It also led to too much thought being put into which side of the road the bus will stop at.

    On a mostly unrelated note: some of the signs for pedestrian crossings feature a chap wearing a hat, while some do not. Eternal glory shall go to the one who can remove this item from my Unsolved Mysteries list.

    Sometimes he wears a hat, sometimes he doesn't.
    Sometimes he wears a hat, sometimes he doesn't.
  3. Interchanged commas and periods in numbers

    This one is quite common all over Europe. I knew about it beforehand, but that didn’t stop it from making me look twice at all pricetags I saw especially because several shops still used the decimal point for its intended purpose.

  4. European keyboards

    From left to right: Keyboards in Norway, Austria, and Czech Republic.
    From left to right: Keyboards in Norway, Austria, and Czech Republic.

    This was probably my number one annoyance (especially in the last month when I was travelling in different countries), causing me to stare for a good five minutes at every keyboard I would use, no doubt to the amusement of any onlooker. The most confounding part was that the keyboards are different in literally every country. And by that I don’t just mean that in Norway where they have ø, in Germany they might have ü – even common symbols like @ are in wildly different locations. In Norway, you get it by pressing Alt Gr + 2, in Germany by pressing Alt Gr + Q (which as one of my German friends ruefully recounted is the worst key combination if you’re using an Apple keyboard), and in Czech Republic by the utterly bizarre Ctrl + Alt + V. Some keyboards even have the Y and Z keys interchanged. I mean, what the heck?!

    Giving up on trying to figure out said exotic keyboard can lead to rather confusing conversations.
    Giving up on trying to figure out said exotic keyboard can lead to rather confusing conversations.
  5. More sun, please! No, I take that back – less sun, please!

    Trondheim isn’t north enough to experience the midnight sun, but the sunlight hours are still quite perplexing. When I reached in January there would be light by about nine thirty in the morning and darkness by about half past three. In the summer however, there’s no “night” to speak of – only a twilight sort of thing from eleven thirty at night till around three. This, by the way, is extremely detrimental to the productivity of someone who has gotten too used to working only once it’s dark.

    Sunset at 4:30 pm in February in Trondheim.
    Sunset at 4:30 pm in February in Trondheim.
    ...And it's still not dark past midnight in the summer in Trondheim.
    ...And it's still not dark past midnight in the summer in Trondheim.
  6. Salty chocolates

    And salty liquorice. Reminds me of how strange I found the abundance of sweet popcorn in Singapore.

  7. Most houses have only one bathroom

    This seems to be quite common in all the places I visited in Europe in general, unless you live in some fancy-pants big home.

  8. 19°C is a ‘heat wave’ in Trondheim

    Announcing... the Trondheim Heat Wave!
    Announcing... the Trondheim Heat Wave!

    And a rare sunny day is everyone’s cue to roam around in a swimsuit.

    That being said, summer in Trondheim is beautiful. This is a photo of the Nidaros Cathedral taken near Samfundet.
    That being said, summer in Trondheim is beautiful. This is a photo of the Nidaros Cathedral taken near Samfundet.
  9. Counting the week of the year

    They do this a lot - my roommates even came up with a needlessly complicated cleaning schedule based on the week of the year (conversely, at my university in Singapore they count the week of the semester, and in India they don’t seem to care about it at all).

    The cleaning schedule in my apartment. If the number of the current week is divisible by three, then the week is <em>3n</em>, and so on.
    The cleaning schedule in my apartment. If the number of the current week is divisible by three, then the week is 3n, and so on.
  10. Pub quizzes

    A quiz… in a pub? These actually happen frequently.

PS: If you go for an Android workshop at NTNU, there is a fair chance that you might all walk out with a free Android tablet.