How to spot a Norwegian in Griffith College

Have you ever held the door for someone or said hi to a fellow student and gotten no reply? Are they being impolite, direct, sit alone, and give off an eerie, cold feeling? Not to fret, they not being rude, they are probably just Norwegian.

  1. Have you ever walked up to Griffith College one morning, with your fellow student in front of you, balancing coffee, schoolbooks and a laptop in your arms, and as you are about to enter the building gotten the door slammed in your face? Why didn't he hold the door for you, you say?
  2. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs every year. It is called Norwegian students abroad.
  3. As a Norwegian myself I am fully aware. Our conversations are direct, or accent weird and we like to keep to ourselves. But is it possible to get Norwegians as friends still? Let's look at a breakdown of the typical situations:
  4. Take the example of your everyday Norwegian bus stop. Our norms dictate that being polite means not interrupting people, and especially not to interact with strangers on the street. And while it might give you some extra needed space to think, what do you do if you end up in a full bus? If all the seats are taken and you have no other option than to sit down next to someone?
  5. The obvious answer, naturally, would be to stand. The bus is now full.
  6. In Norway, we believe in personal space. Which is usually ranging from 5m to 2 km. It is a challenge, a dream and a curse.
  7. When I first got to Ireland and I entered the bus on South Circular I was so surprised to find a random stranger, a woman, sitting down next to me. The entire bus was empty apart from me and a few others. Then why? Why had she chosen me of all people, of all the empty seats, to sit next to?
  8. And while it took some time to adjust to, I came to like this feeling that strangers thought you kind enough to sit next to, or gladly opened a conversation on the street for no apparent reason. It warmed my heart, in a way I had never experienced before. And most of all- I came to know how the Irish population differ from the Nordic one.
  9. Now while the door in your face might be a bit of a harsh example it draws out our essence. Norwegians are coming from a country where being polite means something different and is practised in a different way. If you as a guy, walks next to a girl and you are going out somewhere, the likelihood of you holding the door for her is quite big. So how do you explain the angry look she gives you when she repeatedly says 'after you'?
  10. The simple answer is equality. And while it is polite to hold the door for someone with a massive amount of stuff in their hands, it isn't always correct. In Norway, to hold the door for a girl, you would be indicating that she is of the weaker sex and therefore is incapable of opening the door herself. In Ireland- it means that you are simply being polite.
  11. Its the same for food stores. If you ever walk into a food store, do you say hi to the cashier? Greet the other costumers?
  12. If ever visiting us beyond the ocean you would find the response to this sadly lacking. Again, the principle of politeness through distance and personal space comes to mind. Don't greet or talk to strangers unless absolutely necessary.
  13. If you start a conversation with them Norwegians will be direct, short in answer and straight to the point. Not because they don't like you, but because it is how they are raised to act. Getting to the point is important and they would rather not waste your time.
  14. The only time they do open up comes unexpected on most. Should you happen to greet them by asking 'how it's going?' you will most likely not get not get the simple reply you expected, but rather a full dissertation of what's on their mind. 'How was your day?' is another trick on how to get Norwegians to speak. It's the perfect conversation starter - but maybe not so much when you're the cashier in Spar and there are six other customers waiting.
  15. In his TED talk Julien S. Bourelle tries to connect the dots in society by breaking up the cultural barrier. He also wrote 'The Social Guidebook to Norway' and is a keynote speaker focused on Norwegian and Scandinavian culture.
  16. Learn a new culture | Julien S. Bourrelle | TEDxArendal
  17. So how do you get Norwegian friends?
  18. Well there is a simple answer to that: