You're newly arrived in Oslo and you've figured out the basics.
You located the local food shop and you've managed to find your way to work.
But now you're looking for that next little thing.
You're curious what else is out there?
What kinds of projects and activities are taking place nearby?
You've heard Oslo is meant to be a super cool place, so where's it all happening?!
These are the kinds of questions that Alina and I have been asking ourselves over the last little while and in this blog post we'd like to share a few of the interesting projects and places that we've discovered during only our short time here.
First off, a word of warning. Oslo is not the easiest place to move to as a non-Norwegian and it can seem difficult at times to feel like you're making much progress with integration within the culture. Obviously it helps if you have friendly flatmates and work colleagues who make a real effort to include you in all the goings-on (thanks guys!) but it's not all completely down to luck either.
Even though we've not been here long we've noticed that there appears to be plenty of groups and 'mini-communities' in which people are very welcoming to new and interested participants. One of the best examples of this are the people associated with the local cultural and agricultural project known as Losæter. Described as a "new cultural institution situated amongst the National Opera, the Munch Museum, Deichmanske Library and the National Stock Exchange. It hosts a range of groups who organize actions related to art, urban food production and the preservation of the commons." This all might seem a bit abstract from that description but when researching the project Alina and I discovered that there would be something called a 'Dugnadssuppe' taking place one evening after work so we decided to head along to find out more. What followed was a wonderful evening of picking and digging freshly grown food, preparing it, cooking it and then sharing it together with all the people who had gathered for this open event. We met a whole host of welcoming and interested people who were keen to share their stories and experiences as well as wanting to find out a little bit about us. It was a rare occurrence to find yourself sitting with a group of complete strangers, eating the same food and discussing all sorts of things as if you'd known each other for years (or at least much longer then only a couple of hours!). It reminded me that it's worth making the effort to put yourself out there, attend the event/gathering/meet-up that you've been thinking about, as it's only after taking that initial plunge that you realise how many great things there are going on in your local area and how great it feels to be be involved.
Of course, getting involved in a community project isn't everyone's idea of fun but don't worry - Oslo will provide!
There are a whole host of easily-accessible locations which are great for a day out or repeat visits if they really take your fancy. A few that we can vouch for include:
- A day out at Sognsvann Lake (and surrounding area). You can get the Metro (or the 'T-Bane' as its known in Oslo) to the end of one of the lines and then it's a short walk to the lake itself. It's pretty popular on sunny days so don't be surprised if you see plenty of runners or parents with pushchairs on the main path around the lake. I would recommend leaving the main path however and meeting up with one of the many DNT tracks (previously mentioned here) that criss-cross the local area. You will quickly feel like you're far away from the crowds and you'll come across all sorts of interesting sights from secluded lakes to edible mushrooms and blueberries.
- A trip (and a swim) to Oslo's new Seawater Pool at Sørenga. We must confess that we haven't actually tried this out properly but we've both walked past this new ultra-modern swimming area a couple of times and it does look inviting. [Note that this is right next to the area where you'll also find the Losæter project - so why not take a towel and check them both out at once]
- Visit the Future Library! This is really cool, if slightly difficult to get your head around, but if you're into big, strange ideas (or time travel for that matter) then this is for you. Basically, "a thousand trees have been planted in Nordmarka, a forest just outside Oslo, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in one hundred years time. Between now and then, one writer every year will contribute a text, with the writings held in trust, unpublished, until 2114." Pretty cool right?! Or perhaps a bit crazy, or maybe both. I haven't decided yet. Anyway, the beginnings of that forest can be found just outside Oslo and if you're interested is definitely worth a visit. Details about how to find it can be found here.
- Volunteer! Since we've arrived there seems to have been an event, festival or exhibition nearly every weekend and all of these things can't happen without people power. So far I've only been enjoying these events as a visitor but I'm looking forward to getting more closely involved by volunteering with the upcoming Oslo World Music Festival. I was drawn to it because of its focus on internationality, world music and its theme for 2016 which is 'Forbidden Songs', although it may also have something to do with the fact that one of our flatmates is helping run the event... Anyhow, it feels like it'll be an amazing event with some super musicians (seriously, check them out).
- Oh yeah, and if you're still struggling to find things to do or places to go then another good resource is Oslo's USE IT map. I can strongly recommend this great map as it's filled with recommendations which actually seem to correspond with what local people say!
So I think that's all from me for now. Alina and I are off to our EVS On-Arrival Seminar next week located in Balestrand on the beautiful West Coast so you can understand our excitement!
Written by Doug