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How to make friends in Norway - six things I wish someone had told me

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
How to make friends in Norway - six things I wish someone had told me
While Norway's cultural and social norms can make finding new friends difficult at times, there are things you can do to make the entire experience smoother. Photo by forzaalisherka on Unsplash

It's no secret that Norway has a reputation as a tough place to forge new friendships. But does it have to be such a challenge? The Local's Robin-Ivan Capar offers tips for those seeking to broaden their social circles in this Scandinavian country.


By almost any measuring stick, Norway is a fantastic country to live in – from its good quality of life, high wages, and robust safety net to its stunning landscapes and general safety experience.

Yet, beneath this often-romanticised exterior, many newcomers to the country often discover a surprising challenge: making friends.

READ MORE: Settling in Norway: Five places to meet new people and make friends

A short look at most Facebook groups, forums, and other internet gathering places aimed at immigrants to the country will – without fail – include several posts that point to the challenges of connecting with locals and forging new friendships.

While Norway's cultural and social norms can make this process difficult at times, there are many things you can do to make the entire experience smoother – if not painless – that I've picked up over the years.

The friends you pick up at (language) courses

For many people, enrolling in an in-person Norwegian language course is one of the first opportunities to meet new people after moving to Norway.

Enrolling in norsk classes (such as the ones offered by Lingu, Speak Norsk, and Folkeuniversitetet) not only helps you overcome the language barrier but also introduces you to like-minded people in similar position, who share the same goal of mastering the language.

READ MORE: Why you should learn Norwegian even if you don't need it for work

The bonds that often develop in these classes (especially if you go through the levels together with the same people) can easily extend beyond the classroom, creating lasting friendships.

Now, the friends you'll make in a Norwegian language course most likely won't be locals – but they will often have local social circles of their own, which you'll be able to join and which will, more often than not, include at least a few Norwegians.

So, don't hesitate to strike up conversations with your fellow language learners outside of norskkurs – they might become close friends and important social pillars in your life in Norway.


Take the initiative and be persistent

In a land notorious for the slow pace at which friendships can develop, you don't want to wait for others to make the first move.

Norwegians can sometimes be reserved, but this shouldn't deter you from taking the initiative.

READ ALSO: The best tips to help you settle in Norway 

Be proactive in reaching out, whether inviting someone for a coffee, suggesting a hike, or even organising a small get-together.

This is often easiest accomplished within the setting of a club or activity you just signed up for (more on this later).

Just know that your willingness to initiate social interactions can break the ice and set the stage for deeper connections down the road. And one more thing – keep trying.

It will often take more than a few attempts to get someone to join one of your get-togethers or house parties; don't get disheartened.

However, as with all things, stay within the realm of good measure – you don't want to come across as pushy.


Pick up a sport that locals enjoy

To quickly immerse yourself in your local community and make friends, picking up an activity locals enjoy can be the fastest option.

Joining a local sports team has worked in my case, and many of my friends who are international citizens found new Norwegian friends through sports.

READ MORE: How to have a fulfilling social life in Norway without breaking the bank

Whether it's martial arts, running, football, skiing, or even a niche sport, the thrill of competition, the shared victories and defeats, and the post-game celebrations all contribute to creating bonds.

Find out what sports interests you share with Norwegians, look at the options available in your area (you'll ideally want to find something that doesn't require a long commute), and use that as a launching pad for meeting new people.



In Norway, making friends at work is a common part of adult life. Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Reevaluate your expectations

I have a Norwegian friend who I consider close, and we meet up at my place every two weeks or so, yet I've never had the chance to visit his home.

Back in my home country, this might raise a few eyebrows, but here in Norway, it somehow feels fine. It's not the usual blueprint for my friendships, but I've come to respect that.

Sometimes, it's beneficial to acknowledge that your relationships in a foreign country might take unconventional forms.

As long as you don't feel you're compromising on your needs, sticking to a different approach to friendship can also be a rewarding experience.

Continue with your hobby in Norway

One of the most effective ways to meet people who share your passions is by continuing with your hobbies after moving to Norway.

If you're into singing, find a choir or sign up for music school classes (if life leads you to settle in Bergen on Norway's west coast, you'll find a number of options at USF Verftet, the city's most prominent art, film, and music co-location and cluster).

If you're a fitness enthusiast, find a nearby gym (for example, SATS has a nationwide offering of gyms that are a bit on the expensive end - but you'll easily find cheaper options locally).

If, like yours truly, you enjoy board and card games, find a community where you'll be able to show up for weekly game nights and get-togethers (in Bergen, Oslo, Trondheim and many other cities, that would be Outland, which offers a broad range of tournaments and activities for card game enthusiasts).

By pursuing your interests, you not only do what you love but also open doors to meeting fellow enthusiasts who share your passion and can become your lifelong friends.


Work friends are real friends, too

In Norway, forming friendships at the workplace is not uncommon – in fact, as an adult, your workplace will often be one of your key arenas for meeting new people.

Colleagues in Norway often socialise outside of work, whether it's grabbing lunch together or through team-building activities.

Work friendships also serve as a valuable bridge to expanding your social circle beyond the workplace, as colleagues may introduce you to their own friends and networks.

This can lead to invitations to social gatherings, cultural events (such as music festivals or comic gigs), and other activities that will enrich your life in Norway.

Robin I. Capar is a Croatian journalist and communication and media consultant who has lived in Norway since 2019.


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