When you move from America to Norway, you expect there to be quite a lot of differences. I previously wrote an entry on the food labels, for example (The Expat Grocery Shopping Blues: Food Labels). The fact that we don’t use the metric system in America is definitely our fault. At first it can be difficult to gauge temperature in Celsius or understand when someone tells you to walk 200m. How far is that? I have no idea. After some time, you get used to these things. Now, after a year in Oslo, I have no real concept of temperature in Fahrenheit.
We all know that the plugs in different countries are not the same. I am not aware of the reason for this and am too lazy to look it up at the moment, but I think we can all agree that it is supremely annoying that the whole world can’t just use the same damn socket!
So I have had to use this baby, which I bought from Clas Ohlson (here):
This is a World to EU adapter so that you can use plugs from around the world in Europe. I’ve used this for some of my American electronics.
However, this is IMPORTANT Americans: It’s not just the plugs that are different…the voltage is different in America as well. Make sure that you check the voltage of any of your electronics before you use them in Europe. For example:
If you look at the photo of my curling iron above it says 120v/240v, so this is able to tolerate the higher voltage. However, many electronics do not accept the higher, European voltage and they will only say 120v on them. The plug adapter above doesn’t actually change the current, so if you plug in one of those products you’ll most likely end up melting your hair straightener (my mother has done this).
But it’s really the random, unexpected differences which can be so annoying. For example, I’m an English teacher and I brought some of my handouts with me from America without their binders to save on space. When I went to the store to buy binders, it turns out all of the binders here are 2 holes instead of 3 like we have in America. I had to buy a new hole puncher and now all of my handouts look like this:
Also, for some reason, the paper here is slightly larger than our paper. You wouldn’t notice it unless you put the paper from America on top of the one here. So much for everything being bigger in America.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the freaking tampons! Now, I’m a Tampax Pearl girl all the way, so I actually did have a small supply with me when I moved. However, when it came time to purchase some here, this is what I got:
What the hell do Europeans have against applicators? Seriously? This is gross. Someone invented applicators for a reason: they’re better! Continuing to use these tampons is like using your hands to eat when we now have forks and knives.
Look at this flimsy thing! How is this supposed to protect people? Don’t even get me started on that flimsy string. I have to go to a specialty store to buy Tampax here and they don’t even have Pearl.
Needless to say, tampons are a super lightweight, easy-to-pack item that is probably going to be in my suitcase every time I return from America.