Norwegians do not let you past the entryway of their homes if you are still wearing shoes.

I expect this custom in, say, a Japanese house, or maybe even in a fancy American house. However, growing up and even now, we often wear shoes in my parents’ home.

You might think, well, it’s not so unusual to find people who don’t like you to wear shoes in their house. Think what you like — and here’s my response.

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Our shoe storage. We need about two more of these, honestly.

First, it seems that I have yet to be in a Norwegian residence that doesn’t have some variation of a skohylle that is similar to the STÄLL from Ikea. The TRONES (also from Ikea) is also a popular choice. As far as I know — unless you’re a Pinterest Mom with one of those entry bench things with a stall for each kid’s backpack/other personal belongings — Americans just kick their shoes off wherever, or by the door in a giant pile, or some other place where we’ll have to go searching for them later. These Norwegians take their shoe storage seriously, and even at a cool house party (two of which I have now been to), you will find every last person traipsing around in their (wool, no doubt) socks, and the pairs of shoes lined neatly up once the skohylle is full.


“Before” and “After” pictures of our entry. You can’t even see all of it (our skis are just to the right), and Jens is at work so some of it is missing.


Second, good luck getting past the threshold if you’re American (or any nationality, really) and you forget that you are living in a place where people take their shoes off to go inside. Don’t get me wrong — the host/hostess will allow you in the door still shoe-clad. However, if after you put all your stuff on the ubiquitous coat hooks and hat racks, you will not make it past the entryway. A quizzical look and a body blocking your path are all you’ll get until you realize that you’re not in American anymore, and you can’t wear your shoes inside.

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Not a black and white photo. This is the path to our apartment, even snowier than the last time I posted a picture of it.

Third, I have yet to be in a home with wall-to-wall carpet (my fiance lovingly laid carpet in the main areas of our home, which was originally intense green linoleum throughout). In my American mind, that means I should be able to wear my shoes inside. Wood floors don’t grab dust and dirt like carpet. Wood floors are just a Swiffer-sweep away from being clean again. Tile is a bit tougher to clean, but it still just needs a firm hand with the proper tool. Why oughtn’t I wear my shoes indoors? For all I know, these people have rusty nails and shards of glass lying haphazardly about throughout their homes (they don’t — Norwegians seem incredibly tidy, from what I have so far seen). You’re far more likely to step on a tasteful rug or whack your toe on a lovely piece of furniture with clean Mid-Century Modern lines than you are to contract tetanus. Which is probably true of almost anywhere…

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The 2010 Texas “Snowpocalypse”. School was canceled for seven days.

Anyway, what I have discussed and decided with the sweet Norwegians whose lives I’m now a part of is that snow, mud, and ice are a normal part of Norwegian life. You’re more likely to come into the house with dirt or water on your shoes than not. Sure, there are sidewalks, but even plowed, they are layered with the combination of sand, salt, snow, ice, and dirt. Americans — at least in suburbia where most of us live — are accustomed to cement pretty much everywhere. I’m not even sure what the path into my apartment actually looks like since I’ve only seen it a few times sans snow, back in November when I was previously here, but I’m about 100% sure it isn’t paved, nor is the parking area where we park the car. The Kiwi parking lot? Gravel. Well, ice and snow right now.

 

I’ve even found myself becoming particular about people’s shoes past my entry mat since puddles of water inevitably begin to form the minute a soiled pair of shoes come through the doorframe. This place is starting to change me already.

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