You’ll face many challenges surviving Norway. One of the biggest challenges is going to be the loneness. It’s a great country, but it’s also a very cold country much of the year, and the Norwegians themselves can also be rather cold. It’s not the Norwegians’ fault: I don’t think they realize how they are sometimes as cold as the weather. They probably don’t know how much they at times challenge a foreigner’s patience. And we foreigners often take our time to truly understand and respect this culture, or any new culture. As a result, there’s a lot of misalignment of experiences and expectations between both parties. That makes for much stepping on toes in the great dance that is living with Norwegians.
So, you’re cold, you’re having trouble making new friends, and you’re probably missing some random food ingredient from back home. What can you do about it?
A few quick tips:
- Join your fellow expats in the Facebook groups mentioned earlier in the book. You’ll quickly meet some new friends who are ready to meet up and likely just as miserable as you are. Misery loves company!
- Invite new friends to dinner. Many shy Norwegians don’t do this, so don’t be offended if they don’t offer. However, as a foreigner, it’s ok to do so.
- Join social clubs around your hobbies, do Norwegian dugnag, or use social clubs to learn new hobbies. When Norwegians do things as a group, they are much more open to getting to know someone better. There are hundreds and more likely thousands of small social groups in Norway around just about any topic or interest.
- Do sports, not just for the exercise but to get to know someone better. While there is little talking during the actual sporting, afterward there’s a chance to have a meal and better connect.
The hard truth about making friends with Norwegians is that it takes time. Like years. From talking with many other fellow expats, it seems after about 5 years most have 1 or 2 Norwegians whom they consider good friends. After 10 years you have a few more. This is different from other cultures where you might be able to make more close friends very quickly. However, some good news. While Norwegians are difficult to get close to once you’re in you’re usually in for life. If the trust is maintained between both parties you have likely made a loyal friend for life.
Want to learn more about
Living and Working with Norwegians?
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Working with Norwegians is the guide to work culture in Norway.
Living with Norwegians is the guide for moving to and surviving Norway.