What to expect from a drunk Norwegian?

A Frog in the Fjord: One Year in Norway Book
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Before anything, gender equality reaches out to drunkenness in Norway. So don’t expect Norwegian women to drink a little and leave all the fun to the men. The French saying “A bottle of alcohol is ugly in the hands of a woman” probably never existed here. Everyone gets wasted. So when I say “Norwegian” I mean women AND men.

The first thing you can expect from a drunk Norwegian is sudden happiness and an ease to socialize. Once I overheard a Norwegian who had just arrived in a party say “Oh damn I don’t know anyone here, I need to get drunk fast”. That says it all: quite uncomfortable in any kind of social situation which doesn’t involve people they’ve known since kindergarden, alcohol gives most Norwegian the power to chat freely with strangers without any internal boundaries. I am not saying Norwegians are anti-social, of course when they win in the Winter Olympics or on 17th of May it’s another story.

The second thing you can expect from a drunk Norwegian is promiscuity often leading to sex. Wait a second I didn’t say Norwegians are promiscuous, not anywhere any time, but on a Friday or Saturday evening in bars, or in julebordet, or in after-ski parties: if you wait until alcohol level gets high enough, making-out and sex are likely to happen a lot. Between colleagues, friends, people who’ve never met each other and haven’t exchanged a single word. It’s called “Norwegian seduction”. Note that an alcohol-free version of Norwegian seduction is also possible, through internet dating. I don’t really understand how Norwegians, who tend to avoid any kind of awkward social situation, can wake up naked with someone they haven’t shared their name with, but it still happens a lot.

The third thing you can expect from a drunk Norwegian is emotion sharing and sudden intimacy. Also not very likely to happen in everyday life in Norway. Suddenly a colleague who never even says “hello” starts sharing life secrets and emotions about his/her divorce, or gives huge declarations of love or friendship. Do not expect any of this to survive the night: The next day the same Norwegian sobered up will not start saying hi or make any mention of whatever he or she said during what you thought was a great moment of connection and intimacy. Haha and you thought you had made a new friend.

In the end, as a foreigner (unless you are Finnish, then Norwegian seem extravert even when sober), the difference of personality between sober and drunk Norwegians is confusing. First because in a lot of non-Nordic cultures people feel comfortable enough in social settings for not having to get drunk. We look forward to meeting strangers as they are potential new friends. Norwegians usually assume French, Spanish or Italians are already drunk when they meet them as they talk to everyone in a party, when in reality they drank one glass of wine and ate a few peanuts. It is therefore hard for us to imagine that others need a lot of alcohol to ease up (believe it or not, we don’t).

Second, the Norwegian code saying that “what happens in Julebordet stays in Julebordet”, or in general terms “whatever happens when we are drunk is not to be spoken about” is very difficult to understand and follow. If I meet the guy who spent an hour telling me about his break-up and how sad he feels the day after the party I want to give him a big hug. But he will just ignore me, run away from me in the tbane and hope I don’t remember anything he said. This leads to many misunderstandings when we, foreigners, think we really bonded with someone and made a new Norwegian friend when actually not at all.

But hey, sometimes one needs to chose between cultural integration and social life in Norway vs. a healthy liver. So you might as well embrace it all and start binge drinking. Find a Norwegian coach, buy lots of condoms, learn Østlandsk after-party amnesia, and have fun!

44 thoughts on “What to expect from a drunk Norwegian?

  1. And then there are the misunderstandings Norwegians have when they think they are bonding with us foreigners, only to find out that we don’t know all the unwritten rules. Is is really true, as one very disappointed Norwegian told me, that since we had danced together more that twice, I had signaled that I wanted to have sex?

    1. Everything what she is write about Norwegian true. Who made comment in here “ it’s not true “ – it’s seems be notwegian folk. Who think they the “one of best on this planet ”. It’s actually always make me fun to hear from some norwegian they thought like this. They so naive.l this small groups and travel not so often.

  2. Where on earth do you meet this norwegian? Noone I know or ever have known behave like this… Think you have to change job…

  3. Your blog is outstanding and so often completely spot on! I envy your work- would you be open to publishing contributing authors?!

  4. I really enjoy reading your posts. As a young german guy who visited a little pub in Kristiansund (not -sand) completely sober I really was confused. Also it was a bit confusing that girls begin to dance with guys on their own. In germany always the man has to make the first step. Then again an evening in the Hard Rock Café in Oslo was really nice. Me and my friend were sitting in a corner when suddenly a norwegian man and woman winked at us, signaling that we should come to them. So we found Norwegians to talk to, about our holidays in the north. Also it was a nice thing to flirt in english 🙂

  5. This is so right! I have kissed Norwegians, specifically Fridays and Saturdays past midnights. Lots of them like kissing…,past midnight.

  6. Hmm, jeg synes det er litt merkelig at du er blant så mange som drikker mye. Det er helt sant at unge folk i Norge drikker veldig mye, men når man kommer mer oppe i 20-årene og nærmer seg 30 slutter de aller fleste å drikke seg full meste parten av tiden. Jeg drakk mye da jeg var yngre, som de fleste andre nordmenn, men nå for tiden drikker jeg meg så og si aldri full og det gjør ikke vennene mine heller.

  7. Interesting blog!
    I have never seen a more significant (and rapid) change of personality than the transformation of a sober Norwegian into a drunk one. And it takes very little in terms of alcohol intake also.
    I am also quite surprised that most of the Norwegians that read you here do actually seem to understand your humour and your “sarcasm with a smile” understanding of their habits. 🙂

  8. “Norwegians usually assume French, Spanish or Italians are already drunk”

    hahah this one killed me.

  9. very funny describe, a good entertainingly reportage. I´m married to an Norwegian for 18 years now and the only thing that i fully agree is with the drawing faces on the top, hahaha

  10. Our first julebord, when all of my husband’s colleagues were drunk, we had several people say they wanted to take us to their hytte, or invite us over for dinner, or show us a good fishing spot….the only time we ever heard from those people again was at the next julebord, when they said the same things. We know not to believe a drunk Norwegian to follow through on anything they said at a party. It was disappointing at first (we thought we had finally made Norwegian friends on our own), but now we just have fun with it!

  11. Hmmmm… Okay, I’m reading this and suddenly am starting to understand why I instantly felt comfortable with my Finnish animation teacher—among other things. I’m half Norwegian and half Danish (3rd generation on both sides). I was mostly raised by my dad’s side of the family (Norwegian) in Californian. Then I moved to the East coast of the US as a child and felt like I had to relearn social traditions and then some to fit in.

  12. i really love everything you write ! 🙂
    and i can agree that it’s all true !
    keep up the good work ! 😀
    Norwegian/Estonian 🙂

  13. I love your articles!
    “Norwegians usually assume French, Spanish or Italians are already drunk” -> almost die laughing, since I’m Italian..unfortunately 😀

    1. How ironic.

      I lost my virginity to an Italian girl.

      While being drunk…

      In NYC (USA) as an exchange student back in 1990.

      Not going to say her name though

  14. I actually asked my husband why we couldn’t invite for dinner that nice couple we spent the whole previous night talking to.
    He said ” We don’t do that”. (???)

  15. Friends / family used to say I was a completely different person when I was drunk. And a lot more fun and social when I was!. I just thought it was a warning sign for being an alcoholic. Now, I wonder if it’s those Norwegian genes passed down from my grandparents. Great post. I gotta read more here.

  16. Yeah so true that with a Finnish person it’s like being back to home when I have also learned the language haha

  17. Very well observed. I gather you have been in Norway for some years. I call the tendency to say you will do something and then not follow through, Norwegian promises 😉

  18. If Norwegians are sexually free and open to one night stands with strangers, how do they tend to feel about threesomes, swinger lifestyle, orgies with strangers or friends/colleagues, or different sexual orientations or lack of titles when it comes to fluidity in sexual attraction? I am curious to know how open minded Norwegians get when they’re drunk.


  19. Very well and sensibly stated, Gaute Halvorsen. It sounds like there is a tinge of envy about much of this. They can’t all be Norwegian. Tough break! Also, just because Norwegians seem cold externally the day after does not mean they are internally cold. Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s our culture, not yours.

  20. I recently met a Norwegian man on line. Seemed charming and fun. And then he started professing great endless love to me. After a few days was saying he was sure he was in love forever. So this is the “Norwegian Seduction” game they play? It is all just a game to them. Good to know! Can’t take them seriously or believe anything they say.

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