How to get to know Norwegians - Rule no 1

Source: "The Social Guidebook to Norway"

In many countries around the world, you may naturally greet strangers

And start talking

For no particular reason

You end up talking for a little while

You get curious 

You take a coffee together

Or invite for dinner

You get to know each other around food

You connect intellectually

You decide to organise an activity

You go walking

And end up picking berries

Purposeful activities follow from interesting conversations

And a curiosity for getting to know new people

This is the typical timeline



In Norway, it works a bit differently

First, you sign up in a “bærplukkerforening” (Organisation for the Picking of Berries)

You meet for the group for the first time

in the forest

This may be scary for some

I was holding a lecture about Norwegian Socialization in Bergen not long ago

Someone came to me after the lecture

And said 

"Where I come from

people bring others to the woods

to kill them!"

Do not worry 

Woods are safe in Norway

First you meet in the forest

you work purposefully for several hours

mostly in silence

Purposeful communication may take place around practical aspects of picking berries

Because it is practical, you walk down the mountain together

And because you both are hungry, have worked for many hours and have food in your hands

you can justify eating together

In Norway, dinners are not a means to getting to know people

They are a result of an established relationship

This is key to understanding the Norwegian socialization logic

Do not invite a Norwegian you just met to share a meal

You may never see him again

Rule 1

Get involved first

Take part in organised and purposeful activities

Norway is peculiar

You may need a guide

Lucky you

Elise just translated Egil Aslak's book on the unwritten Norwegian social norms


And I wrote two "Social Guidebooks to Norway"



By Julien S. Bourrelle


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