How can I meet a Norwegian

social life
Buttoned Norwegians?

Is it really hard to make new friends in Norway? A German student looking for explanations.

“A good way to make new friends is to take part in organized events where you can meet Norwegians,” explains Karin Ellis from “Ellis Culture”. Ellis is Norwegian and has been offering courses on “Working with Norwegians” since 2008. In the workshops she not only talks about work, but also about private life with Norwegians. “So you should think about what hobbies you have or what you would like to learn. Then you can look around for suitable groups, ”says Ellis. Hiking is always a good idea - Norwegians love nature.

On a Sunday at 11 a.m., I set off with a pleasant 17 degrees. On the website of the hiking club DNT (Den Norske Turistforeningen) I found out about guided group excursions. After choosing the filters “near Oslo” and “for beginners”, the international Sunday excursion is suggested to me. For the four-hour tour I put on my well-profiled boots and stuffed my backpack with water, sandwiches and a rain jacket.

“You get to know Norwegians best in nature,” says Ellis. The tours take place outside, far from the city and from everyday work. That just makes the Norwegians looser and more relaxed. For Ellis, however, it is important not to generalize everything: "There are always exceptions and behaviors depend on many different influences."

During the tour I get to know Anne *. She has been in Norway for half a year and would also like to meet new people. As we walk along a lake, she tells me about her work colleague: “I wasn't the first to say it, otherwise I would have scared him away at the end.” No, her story is not about a declaration of love. Anne explains euphorically that her colleague has finally called her a "friend". “It takes the Norwegians a while to open up. But Norwegian friendships last a lifetime, ”says Anne.

Trust already established

Are the Norwegians really that shy? “Norwegians can actually be a bit reserved. They like to distinguish between work and personal life, ”says Ellis. Small talk is particularly difficult for Norwegians, as it is not part of their culture. Is there an explanation for their shyness? “One theory says that they don't need small talk because trust is already established and no longer needs to be built.” In addition, Norway is a large country with few inhabitants. So here you can easily get out of the way.

Anne has got along well with her work colleague since she started her new job. They share an office and therefore spend a lot of time together every day. In spite of everything, it took six months until the sentence “We are friends” was uttered. Then Anne was introduced to his wife. The next step: an invitation to your home.

“Anne is very lucky. In Oslo it is not customary to be invited home. In this city, people meet more often in restaurants or cafes, ”explains Ellis. In other areas of Norway, the opposite is usually the case: People meet at home there, which is not only cheaper, but also more comfortable.
After about three hours of hiking, we have circled the lake and have come to a fork in the road. Participants can choose between a short and a longer way back. Together with four others, Anne and I decide on the longer route. Among them is a Norwegian: Ole * - a tall, slim man, estimated to be in his late twenties. The group gets along well on the way to the next stop. In the subway we exchange our numbers and decide to go hiking together again. In the evening I get a text message from Ole: “Hello! We are heading out to a karaoke bar tonight. Join us if you want to celebrate with us. Sending this to all you subway people :) ”. But not so shy at all, these Norwegians.

* Name changed by editorial staff


Sophia Stölting

Copyright: Goethe Institut Norway, June 2017

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