Here I Am
I’ve figured it out. This is not a drill. I have figured out how to talk to Norwegians….
Wait for them to be drunk. Easy, effective, honestly the best way to get them talking, asking questions and telling you all about Norway and their lives. I figured that out during “Fadderulan” (aka “Buddy Week” aka “Fresher’s Week” for us Exonians). But let’s start by the beginning, I’ll get to that later.
I arrived in Oslo exactly 14 days ago, and it feels like it’s been at least a month. Luckily my parents and brother decided to come with me (their extra luggage was very much needed) and it was comforting to know that I wasn’t landing on my own and released into the wild… exaggerating here a little. But on a serious note, if you, future abroad student, have the opportunity to drag your family to your host country with you I would seriously recommend it.
I found it very nice to have the most familiar faces I have in my life, in a country that felt so far from what I had ever known. It was nice to have them to help me out setting up my room, dealing with my occasional “Oh my God what have I put myself into?” and buying groceries; which turned out to be more challenging than expected. I literally stood in front of the porridge for a good 10 minutes before figuring out what was oats and what wasn’t. You could just see me frantically googling every item on the shelves, as well being seriously concerned for the Norwegian’s taste in terms of food (Guys, what on earth is bacon/shrimp spread and why do their brown cheese taste like salted caramel?) and finally just gasping again and again as I saw the cost of everything. I thought Paris was expensive, oh boy was I wrong. To anyone thinking about coming to Oslo next, be prepared to pay way too much for quite literally everything.
Other than that I quickly realised that walking through Oslo not being able to understand a single thing was driving me insane. So I decided that I will be taking classes, even though I wasn’t originally planning on it.
When my parents left and Fadderulan started, the adventure officially began. First of all I realised it was quite literally impossible for me to feel alone here. There are so many exchange student from all over the world to chat to, and we are all in the same boat. Everyone wants to make friends and find people to do everything with as quickly as possible. Especially because most of them are staying for one semester (which worries me a bit since I’m staying the whole year, stay tuned for a possible breakdown in January). Entering a lecture hall so early in August seriously hurt my soul but seeing the business school was surprisingly calming for me, as I was finally setting foot in the place I had been picturing myself in for months. Compared to Exeter, it is interesting to only be with business students and not have a campus but only one big (very big) building (can’t wait to get lost in it, yay).
So overall my first two weeks here have been great, I have met people from every continent and made friends with great people (yes, including Norwegians!) that open my eyes on the world a little bit more every day. I experienced Fadderulan (which is still running as I’m writting this, even though lectures have already started) and it’s very different than in England. Fadderulan has day events organised by the Student Union and night events which are all concerts. The day events range from scavenger hunts in the business school’s neighbourhood to drinking in a park in the sun with free food and Redbull DJ’s. The concerts are quite expensive which is a shame because the student budget is far from infinite, but we all find a way to make it work.
So coming back to that alcohol talk, I have found that this is possibly the biggest difference with the UK and the rest of Europe. Wine and spirits are only purchasable in special shops which are only open a few hours a day, a litre of vodka is *gasps* 39.5 pounds, and a pint of cider is about 5 pounds in a supermarket. You can’t buy alcohol past 8 on weekdays and past 6 on weekends, which has made us, exchange students, develop incredible tactics and planning in terms of alcohol purchasing. You can also see all Osloites rush to stores before the time is up, and it’s a quite surreal sight.
In terms of my worries with culture shock, I have been fine, apart from the occasional anxiety that comes with not understanding a word of what’s written on anything. I have found it easy to adapt to the culture this far. People will not look at you in public transport, you will quite literally sense how uncomfortable they get as you sit beside them on the bus. But you just learn to understand and accept that that’s how it is. But they are overall very friendly people, you might surprise them when initiating conversation (I didn’t realise how much I talk until I had a Norwegian in front of me looking a tad disconcerted with how much I had to say to a stranger), but they will not ignore you nor be mean, and are just lovely (more reserved) people.
So in summary I am loving Oslo so far, the city is beautiful and there is no time to be bored, there is always a boat ride to hop on and a new neighbourhood to discover. The thing I miss right now honestly is cheap prices. But I am loving the change and can’t wait for more to come, lectures start this week and the fact that they are 3 hours long each scares me a bit, but we shall see. Hopefully I won’t be talking so much about alcohol in the next blog post, cheers to that, or as they say here “Skål”!