This is what Norway will soon look like. So you better have some friends to keep you chatting in cafes and entertained in wild parties on long and dark Friday and Saturday evenings. Do not be scared! As some say, once you make a Norwegian friend, it is a friend for life. Here are a few tips for you to make friends in Norway.
First of all, forget all these things you’ve heard about Norwegians: they are closed, not interested in making new friends, not interested in people outside their childhood circle etc. Of course, it’s not like anyone will ask for your number in a party and call you every time they are up to something. Don’t expect Norwegians will hug you and say “I love you” every other sentence like Americans. This is a cold country, people have been used to living in secluded fjords with little contact with other communities, so be patient: it takes time. Norwegians are usually shy and not very good at smalltalk, but it doesn’t mean they are uninterested or uninteresting. It just takes time to know them and for them to know you. So ask questions, organise dinners, meet again. In other words: break the ice.
Once a half-Norwegian half-Malagasy woman told me that Norwegians are like a Thermos bottle: hard and cold on the outside and warm and “myk” (soft) in the inside. You just need to manage to open the lid.
So, start this journey with an open heart, no pre-conceptions about Norwegians being like this or like that. Like everywhere else on this planet, some are idiots and some are great human beings, just make friends with the kind that suits you best.
Second principle, do not be scared to get out of your comfort zone. You don’t know how to do cross-country skiing? Take a course (you would be surprised how many Norwegians take those beginners’ class). Bored in the winter? Join a band, a climbing club or a knitting group. Meet and mingle, and once they meet you once, twice, and many other times, you will slowly become acquaintances. And they will invite you to parties or other gatherings and before you know it you have enlarged your circle friends even more. Remember that you are a foreigner, so do not expect anyone to make a move towards you. These people (like yourself in your own country) have enough family and friends to sustain themselves until the end of times.
It might take time and you might get hurt on the way. Like this time when I talked to so many unknown people in a party, so happy to believe I had made a new group of friends. They invited me to a concert where they were all meeting up the following week. But once there, they all pretended they had never met me before.
Trying to make Norwegian friends is not always easy, and believe it or not, them ignoring you just after a party does not necessarily mean they don’t like you (but it can of course. I know, this is confusing). It usually means they were very drunk when talking to you and feel ashamed of what intimate details of their life they might have shared with you. Note that when drunk, some Norwegians act like they are already your friend when they’ve only met you 5 minutes ago. This is an illusion, you need to meet a Norwegian when sober to make sure he or she is really interested in becoming your friend.
Third principle, get to know what turns them on. The usual suspects are: cross-country skiing, hiking, cabins in the woods lacking electricity and showers, cakes with lots of cream and berries amd sometimes chocolate, picking berries and chanterelles, and “koselig” or “cosy” evenings (on this topic see “How to Make Things Koselig“). So invite people for dinner and light candles, go skiing on the illuminated slopes of Nordmarka and soon you will find that many Norwegians become interested and even talkative: more than any other people, Norwegians love to listen to foreigners talking about what they love about Norwegian culture.
So you need to be happy and positive (I know it’s hard when you have 4 hours of daylight, but try your best). You also need to relate to their language and culture, so learn a bit of Norwegian and they will appreciate the effort (even if spoken badly).
How to be sure you’ve made a Norwegian friend? He or she invited you to their family hytte, he or she has confided in you and showed some kind of emotion (sadness for example), and they stay roughly equally friendly when sober and when drunk. You now know you can call them through tick and thin until the end of times.