Columnist: Indigo is an American  studying at UiO, hoping to come closer to figuring out Norwegian society. She will be writing a biweekly column about how to navigate Norwegian life for Universitas.
Columnist: Indigo is an American studying at UiO, hoping to come closer to figuring out Norwegian society. She will be writing a biweekly column about how to navigate Norwegian life for Universitas.

Grilling your way to happiness

Sun’s out buns out

It has been observed on many occasions that the long, dark winters we have here in Oslo create a delicious mass hysteria when spring finally rolls around. There’s nothing quite like those first properly warm days. Suddenly the city’s internal logic changes. Whereas before taking a walk just for the sake of it was ridiculous, now it’s the only right thing to do. People seem happier; you might even get a smile or some small talk out of a formerly reserved Norwegian on the street. The population seems to quadruple, and everyone looks like they’re in an ad for some delightfully effortless Scandinavian lifestyle.

Whether the winter is worth it however is a topic of fierce debate, and many people who move from warmer, or at least brighter areas might say absolutely not. But for me, without a doubt, Norwegian winter makes spring and summer immeasurably sweeter. And best of all is the first day of grilling.

Each group out in the park crouched around a grill or lounging on the grass performs their own small worship of the sun. The influx of Vitamin D and sudden transformation from corpse-like to almost healthy-looking is magical after months of low-hanging clouds and cold desolation. Although it has been creeping up on us incrementally, this burst of sunlight and warmth brings out a new kind of happiness. It feels like everyone is outside, filled with newfound energy.

With only a few small purchases, you too can be grilling in the park, living the Norwegian dream. It’s also the perfect chance to find yourself some Norwegian friends. People talk about the sun here like it’s a celebrity, and because of that, when it finally dignifies us with its appearance that’s all the reason you need to hang out with somebody. Inviting them to coffee would be far too stilted and intimate, but to grill? Well, that’s only natural.

All you require is an «engangsgrill» (one-time grill), something to put on it, and perhaps a drink or two. Yes, technically drinking alcohol in public is illegal, but in practice as long as you’re chilled-out and stick to yourself, you won’t have a problem. And why wouldn’t you be? Spring in Oslo cannot be topped.

Lay back in the grass, maybe in St. Hanshaugen, Sofienbergparken, or Frognerparken surrounded by Vigeland’s statues (my personal favorite). People watch, pull out a book, listen to some music. While the hours away, cancel any other plans, invite your friends. I know we all complain about Oslo at times, but there’s no way you can dislike this city when you’re sitting next to a hot grill with a cold beer. Just try it, I dare you.

Other columns by Indigo:

One Norwegian’s trash is another’s trumpet

Welcome to Norway – now fill out these forms

How to join a Norwegian cult

The Norwegian one-night stand