A guide to making friends with Norwegians

Smiling students gathered in the park for the annual semester kick-off. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward

Veronika Sørdal Misini and Rameen Jamshaid Khan are Norwegian students at OsloMet who also work as student ambassadors. They want to reassure incoming students that Norwegians are easier to talk to than you’d expect, and most will be happy to get to know you.

“I think some international students come in fearing Norwegians a little because they’ve heard that we’re hard to get to know,” says Veronika. “But if you come with an open mind, you’ll be more willing to talk to Norwegians and will be surprised to find that we are nice and do want to get to know you,” she says.

Rameen agrees. “My friends and I would be really, really happy to get to know international students,” she tells us. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make friends with people from across borders – and maybe someday even go visit them! In my eyes, meeting people from other countries is just a positive thing.”

How to meet and mingle with the locals

Now that the secret’s out that Norwegians are actually quite friendly, here are a few tips for breaking out of your comfort zone and making friends with the locals.

1. Join "Buddy Week"

The “Buddy System" (student.oslomet.no) is common at many Norwegian universities. At OsloMet, Norwegian students who have volunteered to be Buddies are matched with a group of new international students. The Buddies will be there to answer questions and help get you settled. The fun part happens during fadderuke (Buddy Week) at the beginning of the semester. It’s a packed week of activities and events around Oslo that introduce new students to the city, the university, and each other.

“Buddy week is a tradition that’s very important for Norwegians,” says Veronika. “It’s an icebreaker to get to know your classmates, and you’ll learn a lot about Norwegian culture.”

Andrew Edson Nieto Barrera, a bachelor’s student from Spain, also recommends participating in Buddy Week not just for the activities, but because of the people you will encounter.

“I think it’s the perfect entrance and first encounter with locals. It’s a great way to connect with and have fun with a Norwegian person, who can also maybe introduce you to more Norwegian friends.”

Partying can often be a big part of Buddy Week, but Veronika says that you definitely don’t need to drink alcohol to get involved and have fun.

“The most important thing is to be a part of it. It’s a great way to get to know the other students, and it’s totally fine to drink soda or whatever else you want. All it takes is going to one or two events and vorspiel (pre-parties) and you will make a new friend,” she says.

A group of students playing games in the park during Buddy Week. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward

2. Get involved

Football, theatre, gaming, cinema clubs, dance classes, and language cafes are just a few of the many clubs and associations OsloMet has to offer. With so many possibilities, there’s bound to be a group that will introduce you to a group of people who share your interests. The studentforeninger or student associations culture (student.oslomet.no) is very active in Norway, and just by getting involved, you’ll already be a little more integrated.

“The point is just to be a part of something bigger, where you can meet a lot of people,” says Veronika, who is active in hip hop and jazz dance classes.

“If you’re a bit nerdy, we also have that,” adds Rameen. “I’m the leader of Engineers Without Borders, and we even have something called the Sandwich Association; they really just make sandwiches and socialise,” she says, laughing.

Outside of the university, there are intramural sports teams, bands, and choirs that often welcome international members; a quick Facebook search can lead you to relevant groups. Social networks like Meetup and Bumble BFF can also help you connect with non-students. If you want to get active, check online for yoga and other group fitness classes.

Gym memberships for students are subsidised by the university and will only run you 225 NOK, or about 22 Euros a month. For those interested in getting out in the beautiful Norwegian nature, join a group excursion through DNT, Norway’s most famous hiking and outdoors organisation.

“Find whatever is interesting to you,” Andrew advises. “Because in the end, it’s all about finding people that you have in things in common with, and you’ll have those people to socialise with.”

A volleyball team laughing and playing. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward
Find whatever is interesting to you. Because in the end, it’s all about finding people that you have things in common with, and you’ll have those people to socialise with. – Andrew Edson Nieto Barrera, OsloMet student originally from Spain
Portrait photo of Andrew Edson Nieto Barrera. Photo: Sonja Balci

3. See it as an opportunity for a more authentic experience in Oslo

Living in a foreign country will be a life-changing experience. But as an international student, it can be easy to rely on travel guides and fellow international students when exploring your new city. Making friends with locals can offer you the chance to see a different side of Oslo: its secret streets, cozy cafes, and beautiful outdoor spaces off the beaten tourist track.

“Being an international student, you don’t really get to know Oslo that well,” says Andrew. “Yes, you’ll see where the opera is, but you don’t really get to know the culture and the city, or see what variety Oslo’s different districts can offer. If you want to get the most out of your time here, you should try to be with Norwegians. They’ll teach you how Oslo can really be lived.”

Rameen sums her advice for meeting Norwegians in a few simple steps:

  1. Be curious
  2. Reach out, even if it’s hard to take the first step
  3. Be engaged, and you’ll see how easy it becomes to meet people
  4. Take care of yourself. If it doesn’t work out with someone, don’t take it to heart. You’ll find other ways!

Want to learn more about how to connect with Norwegian students? Check out the full list of OsloMet’s student associations (student.oslomet.no)

A group of students laughing and playing a board game in a café. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward

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