By Robert Reeder
I am back in Oslo after living and working here for a month last summer. Nearly two full weeks passed this year before I noticed that I was going places without a map, getting on and off of metros without paying much attention to the signs indicating the upcoming stops. I pretty much knew where I was going like I do in Washington DC, where I live.
As part of the ieiMedia study abroad program in 2016, we were fortunate enough to have a local instructor at the Alfaskolen Norwegian school named Lene Ness. Lene’s task was to introduce our students -- and me -- to Norwegian culture.
If you look for descriptions of the Norwegian people, they are said to be stoic and distant, difficult to make friends with. Lene helped guide us through some of the obstacles to making friends.
My favorite bit of her advice and the one I most use and have had great success with, deals with how you approach a Norwegian the first time. Here’s the key. Even though they seem to be painfully introverted, don’t make eye contact or small talk. They love to solve problems. So when you want to ask a Norwegian a question, make it into a problem they can solve. All of a sudden they are open and friendly.
Last week I walked into Neseblod, a famous record store/Black Metal Museum here in Oslo. I had ducked in only briefly twice last year. The woman behind the counter, Rebellica, recognized me immediately when I entered the other day.
As Lene suggested last year I approached her with a problem. From what I’d read about the store, I’d been confused about its historical significance. Rebellica gave me a short, curt answer. After I left the store that day I remember telling one of the students that I didn’t think she liked non-metal heads and me in particular.
This had been just after Oslo’s huge Pride Parade last year, which closely followed the shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Nearly everyone in the parade was wearing something black to acknowledge the atrocity. I had been wearing a black ribbon tied around my arm when I last stepped into Neseblod that day a year ago. Before I left the store I gave it to Rebellica. I was sure she didn’t like me and likely threw the ribbon away as soon as I left.
As I approached the other day, she turned, reached behind her and picked up the same ribbon from a hook on the wall where it had been hanging since I gave it to her. Largely because of Lene, my black ribbon is now part of a famous Black Metal museum. And I am known there. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, Rebellica and I had bonded on some Norwegian level.
There are a couple of very funny and insightful books written by an expat, Julien S. Bourrelle, that go a long way to comically instruct outsiders about the ins and outs of the Norwegian social interaction. They are “The Social Guidebook to Norway,” books one and two.
I have a close friend, Mel Burford, who has lived in Bergen for the past two years with her Danish husband, Nils, and their two children. She was telling me a number of things she’s tried to get to know her neighbors, including a standing invitation to “Friday Night Meatballs” at their house. She’s invited many but enjoyed only minor success. I just today sent her a copy of Bourrelle’s first book.
Maybe she needs to send invitations indicating she has a problem she needs help with…too many meatballs for her family to eat.
by Sabrina Hornung
When I travel I prefer to hit the backroads, exploring sleepy highways, scenic byways and hoping I don’t end up lost.I found myself on Highway 21 heading west to Mott the spot and stumbled across The Stern Homestead. Its earthy…
The Little Newspaper That Could turned 24 last week. Although it was without much fanfare, it’s an accomplishment that is without compare in Fargo over the past many decades. We are proud to say the least.HPR is the people’s…
by Sabrina Hornung
The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…
by Christopher P. Jacobs
Rom-coms are a staple of modern movies and have been for well over a century. This summer two very different variations on the genre spotlighting iconic 20th-century superstars made their Blu-ray debuts from Kino-Lorber. One is a…
The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. This nonprofit organization described their mission as “To identify students with their exceptional artistic and literary talent and…
by HPR Contributor
By Robert Franklin, Esq.firstname.lastname@example.orgIn North Dakota, a child’s chances of spending meaningful time with each parent following divorce have less to do with his parents than what county they divorce…