Columnist: Indigo is an American  studying at UiO, hoping to come closer to figuring out Norwegian society. She writes a biweekly column about navigating life in Norway.
Columnist: Indigo is an American studying at UiO, hoping to come closer to figuring out Norwegian society. She writes a biweekly column about navigating life in Norway.

Five tips for tackling Norway

Here’s how to succeed during your stay in Oslo, without going broke, falling on your ass (literally), or never meeting a Norwegian.

5. Explore Oslo: One of the first things you’ll notice when you get to Norway is how expensive it is. I’m not here to tell you that impression is wrong. As time goes on you don’t get used to it so much as become numb to it. Someday paying 80 NOK for a beer will seem perfectly reasonable, and you’ll hate yourself for it.

But don’t let those prices keep you at Kringsjå parties every weekend, drinking homebrewed beer from down the hall, or Sweden-smuggled liquor. There are plenty of affordable options in Oslo if you just know where to look, from concerts to art galleries to food. Luckily, Inter Universitas posts a culture calendar every week, so you shouldn’t be short on things to do.

4. Walk like a penguin: Congratulations, you picked the most dangerous time to arrive in this sleet-covered, North-of-the-Wall hellscape. If you’re from a warmer climate, you’re about to experience a steep learning curve when it comes to layering. What about walking though? Every step outside your apartment is a chance for injury. That’s why we all walk cautiously, with our body weight slightly forward, as though we’re slowly being beaten down by the cruel, unrelenting weather. Look up a diagram for correct walking, and memorize it. You’ll thank me when you don’t fall and break your arm like some poor guy from Spain.

3. Enjoy the outdoors: With all that said, nature in Norway is beautiful! Once you’ve acclimatized, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to ski, rock climb, swim, kayak, hike, or just stroll around the woods right outside the city. If you live at Kringjså student village, you’re right next to Sognsvann, and Nordmarka, one of several forests surrounding Oslo. People come to Norway just to see the beautiful lakes and forests we have literally in our backyards. Take advantage while you’re here!

2. Join a club: If you have a hobby, Oslo has a club for you with students that love that same thing just as much, if not more. Clubs are an important part of Norwegian life; they feed into an obsession with dugnad, loosely translated as «collective volunteer work.» If you’re thinking «that sounds like socialism!» you’d be right: Norwegians love to come together for the common good of creating a more fun and welcoming student environment, especially when it’s well-funded through collective fees. If you’re lucky, you might even experience Norwegian meeting culture – an integral part of student life here. And joining a club will also help you with my number one tip…

1. Make Norwegian friends: I’ll be the first person to tell that Norwegians are inscrutable. They can’t express their feelings. They pull friendship one-night stands. They think Norvegia cheese is actually acceptable. And yet, despite all these things, they also make amazing friends. Once you break through, you’ll realize Norwegians are fun (just add beer!), dryly hilarious, and loyal. They will be adorably grateful if you say even two words to them in Norwegian, and might invite you to their family’s cabin (just be forewarned, there probably isn’t running water there).

A Norwegian friend is a friend for life, and across generations. When I first came to Norway, my mom’s host family and friends from thirty years earlier let me stay with them, despite never having met me.

They might have an icy, slightly awkward demeanor, but inside Norwegians are as warm as a bowl of grøt. It’s worth the persistence.

Don’t miss: Welcome to Norway – now fill out these forms