Walking into the sun. Photo: Aneta Grabmüller
Walking into the sun. Photo: Aneta Grabmüller

Socializing the Norwegian way

GJEMNES (Panorama): Team building, socializing and hiking at Silsethytta cabin for new HiMolde sport management students.

By ANETA GRABMÜLLER (text & photo)

It’s a fresh start of school year and many students from all over the world travelled to Norway to study here in Molde. For most of them it’s not just a new school or new people they are facing to, it is also a completely new culture to them. To make the socializing bit easier, sports management teachers took them to mountains. Far away from civilization, phone signals or comfort of their new homes. And let them run these mountains, carry cold water or build a fire, because that’s how you socialize. Well, at least in Norway.

“The sports master students are mostly foreigners, who came to Norway from very different cultures. We wanted them to experience the Norwegian ‘friluftsliv’ and let them get to know each other,” said Solveig Straume, a teacher of team sports history, who also added: “It used to be a tradition for new bachelor students. We always got really good feedback so we wanted to provide the same experience to our new master students as well. Staying overnight at such a cabin, preparing meals and hiking together is more intense than having day trips as we have run in the past.”

Norway has unique network of touristic cabins all over the country, which are managed by the Norwegian touristic union (Den Norske Turistforening). The majority of these cabins remain unattended and are accessible for all tourists. The system is based on trust and honesty. Tourists can stay at the cabin, use stored food and pay later back home. However, don’t imagine some kind of mountain’s bivouac shelters, these cabins are very cozy and well equipped, although they are usually without running water or electricity and are situated a couple of hours of hiking from civilization.

“It’s pretty normal for us, Norwegians. We spend all summer in such cabins. However, we realize the system of open cabins we have all over Norway is pretty unique,” agreed the Norwegians students in the master program. Nonetheless, for the internationals students it was completely new experience. Some of them were even enquiring as to possibility of a wi-fi signal, but that’s not what you get in Norwegian cabins. Moreover, in most of these cabins not even a mobile signal is received.

The front view of the cabin. Photo: Aneta Grabmüller

“It was a culture shock for me, I didn’t know what to expect or what to bring with me, and therefore I just decided to do it in my African way and stay open-minded. In the end it was really fun,” said Jaypee from Congo.

The bachelor students head off already on Tuesday 22nd August and met the master students at the Silsethytta the next morning. Together they embarked on a team challenge called 61° North. Students were divided into groups of six and together had to accomplish various logical and physical tasks, starting with some brain teasers, following a map, throwing potatoes, building a stone tower and concluding with building a fire in order to boil water suspended above in a metal can. Surprisingly, it was a group of internationals students who completed the course, comprised of various tasks, the fastest.

“They said it’s going to be easy, if climbing a mountain or carrying cold water from a river is easy then I don’t know what is hard for them, but it was definitely fun and I am glad I came,“ said Jaypee.

Despite some hesitation prior to the trip, the experience was extremely enjoyable, involving lots of new experiences for the international students, and providing a great opportunity for the development of team cohesion and bonding. It was a unique and memorable experience to step into the ‘Viking age’ and immerse into Norwegian culture, embracing the beautiful countryside and enjoying a plethora of stunning views, most notably on the final hike to Innergardsnebba.