Satellite_image_of_Norway_in_February_2003

How to Make Norwegian Friends?

Satellite_image_of_Norway_in_February_2003

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.

Good luck!

54 thoughts on “How to Make Norwegian Friends?

  1. I thought this was a great post and certainly some tips I should put into action.

    We have found Norwegians to be friendly and helpful although we are guilty of not making much of an effort to developing a relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jay,
      Yes sometimes I feel like as it is easier to mingle with people from our own culture we don’t make that extra effort to meet Norwegians half way (or all the way :-). Good luck with everything and send me some thoughts if you get good or bad experiences.
      Best

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi,

    I just discovered your blog and found it a very interesting read so thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

    I have to admit that I have almost given up on my efforts to make Norwegian friends. I have never had any troubles making new friends during the 14 years have been living abroad but Norwegians are in their own league in my personal experience.

    That said I find the Norwegian people to be extremely nice and friendly. I will continue the quest and hopefully make some local friends at some point 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi!
      I was a bit sad to read that you had almost given up on us norwegians… I am so sorry! Where are you from?

      I assume you have found people from other countries to hang out with, but if you are not ready to give up on us yet, I think the best you can do – as written here as well – is to join some sort of a group – whatever you’re interested in, and make sure you’ll meet the same people several times until they get used to you.

      I think we might be a bit more hesistant to make new friend, not just because we are shy or have enough friends (who ever gets enough friends?! 😉 ), but because we are the “friends forever” type of people. So before you welcome people into your life, you wanna make sure it’s the kind of person you want to keep there… 🙂

      Also, I spent six months in the US and I had such a hard time making friends. (And I’m also the type of person who usually has no problem making friends..) Of course I had several evening out with great people, and tons of fun, but FRIENDS.. No. It might be that the cultural is so different (even though it seems kinda the same) that we need to learn all the social codes from scratch, and to be able to learn that you need to spend time with norwegians.. Sadly it’s not teachable…

      I hope you’ll learn to know some norwegians, and luckily we tend to come in clusters – get to know ONE, and you’ll most likely find yourself knowing a whole bunch in no time!

      Ps. Just start talking to people in your building, it’s true: we suck at small talk, but we love getting to know new people! At least I do. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Charlotte, Thanks for your nice answer 🙂 I think you raise some good points here. When you first arrive, you just want some people you can spend some good time with/share experience and then hopefully you can become good friends with some of them gradually. It’s the first part that can be challenging here. The quest is on!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Honestly, I think the best way to go about it is just to be honest (no word pun intended). Norwegians are supposed to be so shy etc., I can’t say I’ve ever really understood that stereotype, I have always been an extremely outgoing person and have not found that to be an uncommon trait amongst us Norwegians. I don’t think we’re so shy and closed, it’s just that we are shy and closed in different ways than people are used to from their homeland. Some foreigners use the example that no one talks to each other on the bus as an example of cold Norwegians. First of all, that only goes for some parts of the country. In small places, it’s much more common for people to talk to each other on the bus because they all know each other. I’m from Oslo, and every time I meet someone I know on the bus we talk for the duration of the bus trip. It’s more of a politeness thing with strangers, we don’t want to impose on others. We don’t assume they would be interested in talking to us when we don’t know them. For a lot of people, the bus trip to and from work is the only time during the day when they have some time off from duties (work duties or family duties), some time to themselves when they can listen to their favourite music and relax. Even though a full bus might seem stressing, it’s sort of a “timeout” for a lot of people. So we don’t talk to strangers because we don’t want to interrupt them, mostly. And it seems a bit weird to talk to them when we don’t know each other and don’t have any common ground. Of course, this also leads to us not talking to people who WANT strangers to talk to them, but the tip is, as I started with: Just be honest. Try to talk to people, be friendly. If they want to be alone, they’ll show you. If not, they’ll answer back and be friendly. Especially old people and children love it when strangers engage them in conversation.
      If you feel like you aren’t getting through the shell, be honest with Norwegian acquantainces. If people ask you how you are liking Norway, don’t lie and say you’re having a great time. Be honest, say you’re having a rather good time, but this far you’ve had some trouble making new friends, so you really wish you had someone to hang out with so you could get to know the Norwegian culture better. Before you know it, you will get invitations and eventually hopefully make some really good friends. It might sound humiliating, as though they are pity inviting you, but probably it’s just that they thought you were doing fine on your own, or waited for you to make the first move. And, after all – Norwegians love to show off Norway and “Norwegian culture”.

      Like

    3. Hi Corinne. I hope you have made some friends in the 9 months it took from you wrote your reply here until now.

      Charlotte brings up a great point: Norwegians don’t usually allow people into their “personal bubble,” because once you are in, you are in. You would have to do something severely upsetting for me to want to stop spending time with you once you had been integrated into my life.

      Don’t get me wrong, though. There are a lot of people in Norway with a horrible morale and horrible ethics. People who “use you” for favors. Subtly at first, but more and more demanding after a while. As a gullible norwegian, I can say that I’ve had to sever several connections with friends because they were too demanding. I never say no if a friend is in need, but if we were friends, I would expect the same from you. Going out of your way to do something for someone without alterior motives (you have something to gain) will win you a lot of friendship points.

      Pro tip: When communicating with norwegians, do not complain about anything important. You may complain about the weather, politics (carefully!)… Weather and the weather. You can mention that you have a lot of spare time, and tell people what you’re interested in (once you have started a conversaiton) and the Norwegian will most likely tell you of someone who does the same, and *where he goes to do the thing you like.*

      Like

  3. Hi,
    i dont really agree with this article. I m french and have been living in Oslo for 3 years now. Before that i lived in Sweden for 5 years and i can see a huge difference in how difficult it is to make friends here in Norway compare to Sweden. In Sweden people were curious, asking a lot about me and i made so many friends pretty fast. In Norway my “sambo” who is swedish and myself think it s hard to get through norwegians. It takes time. We have 1-2 norwegian freinds that we met at work but otherwise our friends are internationals like us.
    Maybe it s because Oslo is a bigger town and because generally it s harder to get friends when you re busy working during week days?
    I m a mom soon-to-be and i hope that it will be easier to meet some friends when i ll be “mammaledig” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the issue here might be a different definition of the word “friend”. I’ve noticed some people have very superficial relationships with people they call “friends”. They say they are friends with someone because they are in a huge gang that go bowling once every month, even though they’ve never talked to them about anything besides bowling our outside the activity. I think that a lot of internationals mean – at first, at least – people they can hang out with when they’re bored, drink coffee with etc. when they say friend. To a Norwegian, the word can mean something else.
      For instance, my class has a tradition where we go to the pub every Thursday. There are a lot of people I talk to on those evenings that I never talk to or see outside of those pub evenings. We can have fun, and get tipsy together. But I don’t consider most of them “friends”. I think you have to know people better to be friends. My friends to me are people I can watch the sunset with, drinking red wine, talking about philosophical topics. People I could go on vacation with knowing it would be a blast, because we would make each other feel safe and want to make the best of it. Friends are people who would hold my hair if I got sick at a party and never mention it again or tease me about it. Friends are people I could call when I need someone to talk to at 2 am. Friends are people I could leave the keys to my apartment with for three weeks while travelling with my family. Friends are people who have confided in me, or whom I confide in. Friends are people who know when you are sad about something, who know when to press the issue and when to not ask. Of course, there are degrees of friendship. Not all of my friends fall into all of the criteria mentioned above. Some of them, I just meet occasionally. The keyword here is TRUST. I think the problem people have with making friends with Norwegians, is reaching that level of trust. To be more than just acquaintances, you have to commit, show them you are serious. Divulge something about yourself, that you’re a bit embarassed about. Tell them about a weakness. Tell them about one of your best memories. Tell them of how much you miss your grandmother. It is all about showing you want to make a serious commitment to them. Make an effort to understand their traditions and values.
      If you are NOT interested in that kind of commitment, then it can get hard to make friends with Norwegians, I am sure. Therefore it can be hard for foreigners who are only in Norway for a limited amount of time. If you just want someone to hang out with while you are here, then there are some other tips: Sign up as a dog walker. That means you get to go out a lot, meet dog owners, talk to them. That means you can get to know the owner. Instead of eating at home or at a restaurant, go barbecue in the closest park. Bring beer, soda, lots of sausages. This should also offer plenty of situations where you talk to others – about the weather, about summer, about barbecuing and so forth. Of course, getting from there to “let’s go drink coffee together” is hard. But it can be done. And, like lots of other people have said: Sign up for an activity. Ski course, Thai food classes, yoga, poetry readings, as a volunteer for the local sports club – whatever interests you. Those sort of clubs and classes often have social get-togethers, such as parties or dinners. That especially goes for clubs, who are more long-term. That is a great way to make new friends.
      The bottom line is: Don’t expect friends to come to you, be pro-active! 🙂

      Like

    2. I have never lived in Sweden but when I met Swedish people they seem to be more curious about where I come from and about my culture than Norwegian are. This is quite interesting, considering that Norwegians think that they are similar to Swedish people.

      Like

  4. ” learn Norwegian language”
    Yes! Double yes. I can’t stand English-speakers whining they don’t have Norwegian friends. Get out of your comfort zone, you lazy winter-hater.

    @Nell: Barselsgruppe = great way to make new friends.

    Like

    1. Working on it 🙂 Elina, do you realise how long it takes to be able to learn a language well enough to have an interesting conversation?
      PS: I like winter

      Liked by 1 person

      1. About two months 😉 im a Norwegian exchange student in Central America and it took me about two monts to learn the language good enough to comunicate well, and about the same amount of time to make friends. Its tuff in the beginning, but if you refuse to speak english, you have no choise but to learn, and all though its hard in the beginning, I promise it is worth it!

        Like

    2. Sol, you are very lucky to have the ability to learn a new language in 2 months. I have to work and I need to English during the day as I have an international job and I work a lot so it’s slowing me down 😉

      From my personal experience, it’s also much easier to make friends when you are a students as most student activities are towards making people connect and students often have more open schedules. Most of my colleagues run out of the office at 4pm sharp to pick up their kids and have the family dinner so every contact you make has to be very active. Clubs are a good suggestions as mentioned above.

      Like

      1. Hi Corinne,
        I read your comments and think it is a shame when you say you’ve almost given up on finding some Norwegian friends. I know it can be really difficult, especially when you don’t speak the language. I spent a year as an exchange student in France, and even though I learned the language, it was almost too late to get to know the french outside my family. I assume that you are probably a bit older, and have come further in you life than me. But since I am currently a student in Oslo I wanted to tell you that I would be more than happy to meet up, if you want someone to talk to in French or English, or even just practice your Norwegian.

        Like

  5. Hi,
    I have been in Norway for 5 years now, got my 200 odd hours course of Norsk language, and got my norskprøve 2 . so I am nearly there, and my wife is Norwegian. Still, apart from A4 discussions in shops and colleagues about the weather and sports, I still don’t get the jokes, cannot express myself correctly and feel I am slowing any discussion among friends (we have plenty of Norsk friends with my wife). so they speak Norsk and I speak english and it works fine, we understand each other and discussions are lively. This is when we are sober. When getting drunk, it goes opposite, my Norwegian friends try more and more their english and I try my broken Norsk. and then it is getting even more fun, but obviously not so deep topics can be handled that way.
    But when 10 drunk gutter start talking Norwegian full speed like the other week end when I was invited for a ski week end (gutter tur), I gave up trying and went to bed…
    the next evening, there were less guys and we managed to talk more, still drunk of course, but then we had nice long talks about Norway, winter, languages, food and such. This was much nicer and I think I made some new friends that evening. we will surely see each other next year for the next gutter tur organised by my friend.
    All in all, Norwegian are very nice but a bit shy to try their english. trying some Norwegian can break the ice and at least you get some contact happening. we are the foreigners, we have to make the first step and cross that bridge, even with broken Norsk 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Norwegians, more than any other nation, love to listen to foreigners talking about what they love about Norwegian culture.”
    Agree but when you criticize some aspects of their culture or confront it then they are surprised 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. If you think its difficult making friends in Norway, imagine being born and raised here and being talkative, open, curious, having no difficulties talking to strangers on the bus and train. Norwegians can excuse your behaviour when you are a foreigner but when you are Norwegian and behaving like this, your are just STRANGE, and creepy! 😉 Even so I have managed a get a bunch of really brave friends that were not frightened with my somewhat strange behaviour, being open and friendly from the first minute. I realise that I should have been born in another country if I wanted to fit in more. Norwegians are strange. I would probably fit in more if I lived in Denmark. Danish people are so much more friendly than Norwegians. Thats maybe the reason for the massive Norwegian emigration to Denmark every summer. That, and the cheap beer. 😉

    Like

  8. Really? I first came to Norway at 19 for a holiday where I met a whole lot of very friendly Norwegians who were all incredibly eager to practice their English and speak with a foreigner! I emigrated here at 22 and now I’m turning 30 this year so I’ve been here a while. Those very same Norwegians I met over a decade ago are still my fast friends and I have made many more over the years.

    I think I can count on one hand the number of my friends here who are also foreign, my friends are very much Norwegian in the majority (I am English). I did learn Norwegian, but it took me at least four years (if not five) to have the language to an ability where I could converse happily.

    In my experience I’ve found Norwegians almost over eager to get to speak English. To the point where it was somewhat annoying if I wanted to practice my Norwegian! Then again, I moved to Trondheim, which is a much smaller city than Oslo – perhaps it depends on the city and which people you meet where?

    I wish you all the best of luck with making your Norwegian friends!

    -The weird Norwegian,you sound awesome. You’d fit right in with my friends here 😉

    Like

    1. But you kind of hit the the jackpot, Jen. I keep telling everyone that our gang of friends are a weirdly open and friendly group, and very un-typical norwegians. Which is why I like them:)

      Like

    2. You’re on to something here. There’s a big difference between Norwegians living in Oslo and Trondheim, or in any other town. Try out the people in the northern parts of Norway, or south; west. The people you meet will be different.

      Like

    3. Hello, Jennifer. My name is Lily. Could you please tell me a lot about Norway? I am interested in it so much. I have heard it is a very good country, is that true??? what ‘s the education system like there. Is it easy to work there with my English???? Thank you in advance. If you have any Faceboook profile send me please.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Veldig enig med deg der, nordmenn er alt for overivrige når det gjelder å snakke engelsk. Jeg kan godt forestille meg at det kan være ganske irriterende til tider. Jeg vil foreslå, hvis dette fortsatt skjer, at du insisterer på at dere snakker norsk, siden dere tross alt er i Norge, og ikke i England.

      Like

      1. Synes ikke nordmenn er ivrig naar det gjelder aa snakke norsk. Jeg er engelsk og ingen vil snakke engelsk med meg. Dette er helt greit naa, men var veldig isolerende da jeg flyttet hit og ikke kunne et ord paa norsk!

        Like

  9. Norway is a complex country. I originally come from a small village north/east, and if you DON’T greet everybody you meet om the street or don’t raise your hand when driving a car to all the other cars you meet or you don’t participate in the social clubs, you are an outcast.. Then I moved to Oslo. People thought I was an alien, as I started to talk to people on the bus station, waiting for the bus… There are different social conventions that are to be followed, based upon where you are. The best advice.. Watch, listen, learn and do as the locals! And it is always bad to “show off” or be better that anyone at anything before they know you, so just find somewhere down the middle, and good luck 😉

    Like

  10. Norwegian isent that hard to get to know.. But if you moved to Oslo, it is HARD! That is even hard for a nativ norwgian. Move at least 100km away from that town, and you will find that Norwegians are kind and loyal. But yes we are a little bit shy, and not to god at taking that first step. So invite us for a cup of coffe, and you are on your way to making a new friend 😉

    Like

  11. looks like most of the people here ( norwegians or not ) would like to make new friends or just chat a little, then i would suggest we manage some kafeen ? 🙂 we can create an event on facebook ?

    By the way, i am from Brazil/Rio de Janeiro. 🙂

    Like

  12. “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.”

    I’ll pick the idiots!

    I don’t know if it is harder or easier to make friends in Norway than other places. But I do know that it is a lot harder to make friends when you start to raise a family, or when you reach the age when student years – everybody moves around, looks for people to connect with, and friendships can start at an instant and last forever. In a train. At a party. Behind a three. At the beach. It is done.

    Later, it is just not like that. Even to take care of your old friends and your family is hard enough, and a lot of people get hurt by friends who just don’t have time for visits, not even when you make a birthday party where you hope to see everyone you really miss in your life. Moving to new places in those times is hard for everyone.

    Like

  13. I have read several excellent stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting.
    I surprise how so much effort you place to create the sort of magnificent informative website.

    Like

  14. I am Miguel from Philippines. I want to have a Norwegian friend/s. I like your country and i want to learn your culture.

    Like

  15. The sheer number of comments here shows how complex the issue of finding norwegian friends is. Maybe it is somehow connected to the local living standard and resulting neglect. Inviting someone for a cup of coffee will definitely not do the trick. There are some great people here, no doubt. But finding them is an almost Herculian task.

    Like

  16. I am really enjoying the theme/design of your blog.
    Do you evr run into any internet browser compatibility problems?
    A number of my blog readers have complained about my website not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari.
    Do you have anyy solutions too help fix this issue?

    Like

  17. Hey so I’m full on norwegian. I’ve moved a lot during my life, but I’m much like you have described us norwegians. I’m desperately shy (even more than normal norwegians) and I do all these things.

    The thing is as someone mentioned before, we make friends for life. We won’t waste time or energy on someone we’re not interested in. And just to clarify, if you have not made a norwegian friend yet it’s not because no ones interested.

    And we suck at small talk and at the same time we despise awkward silences, which is a pretty bad combination. So we appreciate so much if you are able to make the conversation flow. You have to approach us because frustratingly enough for both us we are not very good at it. If you do this there is a very good chance we will like you and see you as a potential friend.We might seem a bit unsocial but we really appreciate you talking to us.

    And don’t give up, I know it takes a long time and I swear it takes just as long for norwegians to make friends with other norwegians. 🙂

    Like

  18. Any success stories to share? You can change names but I’d like to know if this really worked and about the circumstances that led to that the ‘happily ever after’ sustainable state where efforts are equal in both factions: norwegian and non-norwegian.

    Like

  19. @mais
    We won’t waste time or energy on someone we’re not interested in. And just to clarify, if you have not made a norwegian friend yet it’s not because no ones interested.

    -You contradicted yourself, pretty much said that they won’t waste their time because they’re not interested and then,,, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested.

    ???

    Like

  20. I have given up on making friends with norwegians, people say oh you just have to make an effort… I am an extremely outgoing person and have made a lot of effort, i have been determined to make friends with norwegians and have not put much effort into connecting with foregners, at this point I have decided to give up on norwegians because frankly its too painful that the only reason they would make any effort is if you confide that you hate the norwegian culture because it is so ice cold and it hurts their pride. I’m not looking for pity friends, just people who I have a connection to. For example i feel like i could make friends with 3 out of 4 french pwople I meet and 1 out of 1000 norwegians. That being said I think there is something terribly wrong with this culture that in is so FAR from accepting of new people.

    Like

  21. When I lived in Norway (for 17 years) we had a lot of friends. We mostly met over kafe og kake. Coffe and cake goes a long way, even at 11 PM they can dish up huge cream cakes and strong coffee. Real cream cakes of course, no the cool whip stuff (yuck).
    I am not a big turgoer (hiker), though I like the breathtaking nature of Norway, but if you can “prate” (are talkative) then you are welcome. Not “snakkesalig” (talk too much) men “koselig prat” (friendly kind of chatting). We made a point of mingling with Norwegians mostly and I learned the language within a year. (the speaking and reading, that is). The writing took a little longer and I still make mistakes there, but I didn’t care. The most important thing for me was to get a handle on the language. Later they thought I was either from Møre og Romsdal or Danmark. Laugh!

    Norwegians are very polite (most of them). They thank you for everything, even if you stop for a little chat over the fence: takk for praten, (thanks for the chat). After you are done eating they usually say: takk for maten (thanks for the food), I liked that very much and we still use it at home quite often.
    I liked the comparison with the thermos. There is something to it. Once they open up you have friends that are generous and warm hearted.
    The drunk Norwegian is a chapter for itself. I don’t want to start on that. Bad experience.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s