Prices here are not as bad as I first thought. The food is very expensive and that's what one tends to notice first. The reason for high food prices: Norwegians pay fair salaries for every job -- harvesting included. US food prices are so low because US farm workers are paid next to nothing. Right now there's a big debate in the US about illegal immigrants. It will be very interesting to see what happens to US prices if reforms go into effect. The immigrant workers issue has been the big white elephant in the room that everyone chooses to pretend doesn't exist. When the workers are all legal and paid fairly, perhaps we'll see corn on the cob for $1.50/ear as it is in Norway!
Kids can actually play like kids are supposed to. It's very hard in the US to find a merry-go-round on playgrounds anywhere, they were deemed too unsafe years ago and so have disappeared. Over here, kids climb trees and boulders at school freely, preschoolers rocket down inclines on their tricycles knocking into each other, and yes, kids get scuffed but kids have always gotten scuffed. No permanent harm, no foul.
WORDS AND ICONS
I find Norwegian very easy to read. Scan a paragraph, and you can guess more than half the words, which is usually enough to get the gist of something. Or, like the other day when we saw the sign "Volksbibliotheka" and knew that it said "Public Library". What's funny is that devices have icons for every function, presumably so that one needn't know the language in order to operate the device. Take a look at the icons on our oven:
I had to laugh when I saw this. The "0" means off but the rest of them were like some kind of intergalactic runes! Perhaps it should have been labeled in Norwegian instead -- it would be easier!