I encounter a variety of strange looks as I’m spotted strolling round my student village with only a denim jacket on for warmth. Around me, students are clad in thick woolly sweaters, gloves, heavy winter coats and long lengths of scarves, wrapped round their cold necks at least three times.
To me, the October weather here in Oslo has been pretty mild, which if anything only highlights that I come from Scotland where temperatures of 10℃ are considered warm. Saying this, I hope this has prepared me for the fast approaching Norwegian winter which is reputedly much colder than what I’ve ever experienced before!
This week has been one of those weeks that every student knows and loathes. The-waiting-for-your- SAAS to arrive kind of weeks. You’ve run out of money and you’re living on a diet of noodles and water. Luckily, for students at the University of Oslo, we’re half way through the semester and are all consumed by a large pile of essays and reading so the lack of funds hasn’t been too much of a downer.
On Monday I had to get up at 6am, which can safely be said is the earliest I’ve been up in a long time. It was still dark when I woke up and the sky was pink as I sleepily made my way to Oslo Central Station.
I was going on a school trip. I study a BA joint honours in English literature and Journalism and take a media and politics class here in Oslo. We were given the opportunity to go on a free trip to visit the Norwegian Media Authority in Fredrikstad.
Fredrikstad is a small but important city about an hour outside of Oslo. Although not a major Norwegian city it is home to the Norwegian Media Authority whose role is to regulate the media in Norway.
Fredrikstad itself, is a small place, charming but not as stunning as Oslo or Bergen. However, it’s always great to tick off a visit to an unknown city off your list.
I learned a lot about how the media works in Norway, in particular the newspaper industry. Norwegians read more newspapers than anyone else in the world. On average, each household buys a remarkable 1.4 newspapers a day. Of course, as in every country, the newspaper is slowly moving into a digitalised form. To keep the printed newspaper alive, newspapers are given grants from the government to ensure they don’t go out of print.
This is something I love about Norway. Norwegians are incredibly proud of their heritage and are keen to preserve their identity as a country, be it in their passion for recycling or the unusually large amount of people you will come across dressed in full Norwegian national dress on the bus. It’s really lovely to see the government taking an interest in preserving the newspaper industry and keeping thousands of people in employment.
This week also saw me participate in my first Dugnad. After receiving a mildly threatening letter about the state of the kitchen in our apartment, (honestly it really isn’t that bed). My flatmates and I were keen to avoid the potential fine and took matters into our own hands.
Norwegian people are hard workers with a strong work ethic. They like to be doing a job with a purpose and I’ve been frequently told that the best way to meet Norwegians is by participating in a Dugnad.
‘What on earth is a dugnad?’ I hear you ask. I hate to break it to you, but it’s just bonding over cleaning.
So on Tuesday evening, an Italian girl, a Danish girl, a Norwegian guy and a Brit put some tunes on and cleaned our entire flat. It took nearly two hours but it was actually great fun. It was great to spend some time with my flatmates who, like me, all lead very busy lives and different schedules. Sometimes I go days without seeing any of them so this was a great way to come together and complete something with a purpose. And to top it off, we might avoid a hefty fine!
In Oslo, there’s a really great flea market movement. Nearly every weekend you can find somewhere to go thrifting which is always welcome as the prices here are extortionate. On Saturday, some friends and I attended a Fashion Archives event. A special secondhand event with Norwegian fashion bloggers selling their old things. It was a welcome way to spend a gloomy afternoon. The event was held in a coffee shop/bar venue with great music and pretty clothes. I’ve become much more of a vintage lover (if that was even possible) since moving to Oslo because street style here, I must confess, is a little lacking.
By comparison the the funky, bright, often eccentric and sometimes just wrong street style in Glasgow, Oslo offers a much more subtle, minimalist look which personally I find a little boring. As Norwegians are incredibly sporty and athletic people the style here consists mainly of cool trainers, sport leggings and hoodies. Girls are all extremely toned, tall and tanned but wear nothing but sports clothes. It’s a little disheartening to walk down Karl Johans Gate and find yourself faced with an array of people clad in sportswear.
Of course, this can’t be said for all the street style here in Oslo but I’d say 85% of people dress this way, which is why the vintage events are always an exciting way to escape the monotony of sporting attire.