Friday, February 4, 2011

Ranting and skiing

After some months living in Oslo and a pretty slow social life I decided to try to find our where the expats are hiding. Having tried to socialize with Norwegians to little avail I figured that there should be more people out there with similar issues. So looked online for groups of expats and found 2.

Went to the first meeting last week, and although it was nice to be in a place that I could understand what (almost) everyone was saying (mostly English hehehe) the topics were a bit off. Most of it was strictly for networking purposes for business, so working at a university was not that popular for other people there. Yesterday I joined the other group for a Thai dinner and a beer afterwards. The group was much smaller, which makes it a lot easier for me (not much into unknown crowds) and I had a good time. It is interesting to see that indeed all foreigners seem to have the same difficulties here. And I admit it was nice to find someone to bitch to.

So what did we talk about?
Mainly that life quality here in Oslo is great, but social life is lacking. That is it quite hard to make friends here. Norwegians seem to have the belief that you make friends in school and then stick to those friends, making it hard for foreigners or new comers to join a set group. They are also reluctant to invest energy in people that are not here for long, so usually the second question that pops up in a conversation is "so, for how long are you staying here?" And the answer to this question can pretty much determine whether the conversation continues (i.e. if you answer is more than 2 years) or ends abruptly. In retrospect I think I was being a bit too candid when I got here, saying that it is hard for me to plan more than a year at a time and therefore I did not know how long I would be here.... wrong answer!

How to get a Norwegian involved in a conversation? The answer to this one seems to be unanimous: skiing topics! You can ask about what type of skis to buy, what wax to use on any given day, what the snow conditions are like.... It's almost like talking about the weather, but a bit more specific. Makes me wonder what people talk about in the Summer. But in an attempt to integrate into society here and figure out what skiing is all about I gave it a try this week. I had never skied before and don't seem to be a natural at it, so it was nice that some professors organized a "class" for international students and researchers. We basically never left the flat area right in the middle of the university, mostly playing around in the mini hill next to it. But it was fun... to the point I'm even considering buying my own skis.

Group pic.

Completely flat.

Not bad!

1 comment:

  1. Oslo is kindof famous in Norway for being hard to make friends in. people are said to be cold and keep to themselves a lot.

    The easiest place to make friends in Norway is said to be the small places in the far north, but they won't bother if you're only there for a year or two.

    Basically, Norwegian culture is not adapted to living in large groups yet. The whole thing with tunnels trough the mountains, roads etc, is still a bit of a shock. And the Norwegians polite response to having lots of unknown people around is to give each other space. The more people, the stronger the response.

    So the bigger city, the more difficult it is to get a social life.