Understanding the Norwegian Social Logic through Sports | Orientering

Do not worry if you see people running in the woods or street looking preoccupied, nervous and focused

They may not look much in front of them and instead look at a map while running

On Sundays during the summer you can often see hundreds of them

They do not talk to each other

They run whatever the weather is like

Under the rain, wind and even when the temperature reaches minus degrees

Do not worry 

They are Norwegians

And they are following one of the most important ritual of the Norwegian society

They will run for hours

In the cold

Under the rain

On icy roads

Or on snowy mountain paths

No terrain will stop them

They are descendants of the Vikings and enjoy having to suffer when they socialise

These people are part of a group and practicing a sport called "orientering"

On their website they even promote the sport with pictures of Norwegians suffering in wet mud and cold weather ! 


This is a very Norwegian sport

Requiring no verbal communication

No collaboration with others

And which can be practiced under any weather conditions

"Orientering" is the perfect example of how Norwegians make friends and socialize through "Frame activities" 

They suffer together for months or years while practicing a sport which preserve their mutual independence

Cross country skiing, alpine skiing, cycling and running are other such example

After a couple of years they become friends because they are part of the same "social bubble"

These social bubbles are quite rigid in Norway, meaning that you cannot freely come into a social bubble even if you have several friends within the bubble already

You first need to suffer with the rest of the group before you can be accepted

That may take years of effort

If you are born into an orientering family

You will practice orientering when you are a child and teenager

You will hang out with other orientering families and make orientering friends

At university you will live in a orientering flat and meet an orienteering girlfriend or boyfriend

You will have orientering children and the loop starts again

Sometimes in Norway, group dynamics are so strong that if you haven't join a group from a very young age, you may never feel that you are part of the group

That has nothing to do with your color or religion

This is just how it works in Norway and it is the same for Norwegians themselves


The Social Guidebook to Norway takes you an entertaining Norwegian adventure that explains many Norwegian behaviours and how Norwegian socialize and make friends


Read more about our amazing Norwegian friends in Our Social Guidebooks to Norway 



By Julien S. Bourrelle

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