How can a comparison between the educational systems of Norway and Spain give a better understanding of welfare models and national cultures? The author aims at contributing to a discussion on how changes that largely are designed to meet present and future challenges in educational and welfare systems, are historically rooted in cultural, religious, economic and political power relations. The comparative analyses focus on complex and interwoven processes of change that are inherent to European standardisation forces – and that are assumed to be responses to impact of globalisation forces on education and work. Basic cultural dimensions that are part of any social formation serve as magnifying glasses to what is particular and what is universal across cultural borders. By means of initial and closing questions the reader is challenged to critically reflect on hidden and open power mechanisms in own and foreign cultures. Researchers, students and others who are visiting foreign countries – and foreigners coming to Norway – may gain some analytical tools that may encourage new orientation in intercultural communication.