The first piece of advice a Norwegian gave to me was “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” I was wearing in a thin coat, freezing as we walked through the downtown city center. I couldn’t help but to laugh at the advice because I knew how important clothing is, anyone who looked into my closet could attest to that. What I didn’t understand was the importance of weather appropriate clothing. I have lived in the south my entire life, first in Louisiana and then Texas. Two of the warmest states with winters that felt more like chilly autumns instead is freezing winters. The heaviest coat I ever owned barely protected you past 40° weather but in the states, I didn’t need anything more. I shouldn’t have ignored the advice for as long as I did but as a southerner I had little experience with dealing with cold weather. In fact, before moving to Oslo I had only seen snow a handful of times and had to worry about truly freezing weather, well never. This lack of experience is probably why I didn’t buy my first winter jacket until it was well into the 20°s and the first snow had blanketed everything. I had assumed layering would be the ideal fix for the cold weather, but There are few places colder than a Norway.
There is also nothing more expensive than preparing for a Norwegian winter. Oslo is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world which is where some of my trepidation to buy a jacket came from. I understood the importance of proper weather gear, especially if I wanted to travel outside the city into the more mountainous and colder regions of the country. I was hesitant to put money into such a big investment but after waking to my first snowy day, where it had snowed all night long, I knew my long knit jacket would no longer suffice. I spent the entire day downtown moving from store to store trying to find the thickest, warmest and most cost efficient jacket I could. Unfortunately after a few hours I began to realize that cost efficiency wouldn’t give me what I truly needed, which was protection against the harsh cold climate. I decided that what had to be more important was durability and protection. So, I went into the store that every Norwegian I spoke to recommended and walked out 20 minutes later with the best jacket I have every owned and a bank account a couple of hundred dollars short; but as I pulled on my new jacket and re-tucked my pants into my earlier purchased less expensive, but still startlingly expensive, pair of snow boots I realized I was officially ready for what Oslo had to throw at me.
Not only that though, I noticed that for the first time I also blended into my surroundings like never before. I no longer stuck out with my thin coats and slippery tennis shoes. I officially looked the part of a city dweller. Before my heaviest shirt was long-sleeved,but thin with no installation and shoes that while very nice did nothing to keep your feet warm or help to grip at the snow and ice that would become a constant in your life. So as I leave December and move into the even colder climate, I realize taking to advice of my Norwegian friends was the best thing I could do and now when little pieces of advice or suggestions are dropped on my lap, I make sure to pay attention to them closely.
After all if the locals are doing it, it is definitely for a reason!