It’s Spring in Norway and the snow has begun to melt. The temperatures are still below zero during the night and a morning stroll for a foreigner means having to confront the Norwegian ice.
I moved to Oslo, Norway in August 2012. An opportunity to live overseas (which happened to be on the top of my bucket list) came up and I had to take it. Arriving at the end of summer, I didn’t even consider snow and ice in the streets. The first snow fell in October, but it was some months before the snow built up, became compacted and eventually turned into a slippery, mirror-like surface.
I became a bit nervous walking on ice (imagine Bambi on ice), after a pretty hard fall just before Christmas. It got me thinking, how do other people manage to walk on the ice and not fall over. So I started asking around. For the other foreigners it’s a bit of scary prospect. Some wear slip on spikes on their shoes to get a bit more grip. I had a look in the shops to see what else could help prevent me from falling again. I saw a pair of shoes with built in spikes, a bit like golf shoes. I thought these would be a good purchase, so I consulted my Norwegian partner for some advice. He said the shoes could help on the ice, but could also give me a false sense of security. Also when I’m walking inside, like in a shopping centre, the spikes could make it harder and I’d probably slip over there instead. So that’s a no, don’t get the shoes.
I then asked some Norwegians if they wore spikes. No one did, although some said their grandmas occasionally wore them. Their secret? Relaxing. Going with the flow. If you slide a bit, who cares?! The key is not to over react or over compensate the small slide and end up sliding faster or longer, which inevitably ends up with a fall. And here was my problem. I became so wary about walking on ice, that I stiffened up. If I felt a bit of a slide, I freaked out and my arms went flailing until I could grab something (sometimes someone) and steady myself. I needed to learn how to do the Norwegian slide.
Could I learn it in one season? Just look at these paths…
Well, Spring is officially here and I haven’t fallen over since. I’m not sure I have the grace of a native Norwegian and my heart still races when I slip a bit. But I do think I’m getting the hang of it. My style is not so much the Norwegian slide, but it’s not Bambi anymore either. I tend to imagine it probably looks like a little old Chinese lady hurriedly shuffling down the street.
Have you ever had to contend with ice?