After a failed attempt at chasing the Northern Lights in Alaska last year, this was my second venture. Apart from expecting to see the Northern Lights in Norway, I was extremely curious to know more about what made it the second happiest country in the world as per the UN's World Happiness Report.
I thought of sharing a few prominent experiences from my trip which I felt were the apparent reasons that made this country the World's Second Happiest.
The Standard of Living
My first encounter with an enthusiastic Norwegian was when I took a cab from Oslo airport to my Hostel in downtown. The driver was super friendly and talkative. We talked about his travel experiences in the USA and several comparisons between the countries. He confidently assured me that I would have no problems in terms of solo traveling in the country. I asked him about the reasons behind the Country being so expensive and what was the standard of living like. He educated me on how it actually works. People in Norway get free education, healthcare is basically free, compulsory maternity leaves, 5 weeks paid long vacations and has the highest number of good doctors. They have the highest tax rates, over 50% that takes care of most of the welfare programs. The social trust in the honest Government for the economic security and equality that it provides is remarkable. The specifics were intriguing.
While in Bergen, I took the bus to the City Center to see UNESCO buildings and wanted to know which stop was the closest. I asked the bus driver, who started chatting with me. I was shocked to find out that he was an Indian settled in Norway and has two grown-up kids studying to become doctors. He went on about how happy and content he felt about driving the bus daily. They had nothing to worry about due to the well-balanced lifestyle. I have never seen this level of contentment among the people. Being brought up in a country like India, that was definitely a surprise to me.