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The Multi-Cultural Melting Pot of Oslo

For the second participant observation, we traveled to Grønland. The class was tasked with walking the streets and charting out the area, observing what they saw, heard, and smelled, and then analyzing these observations. I chose to use all senses, but for this blog post I will stick to just what I heard. I will start off with this, the area is a multicultural neighborhood. There were various ethnicities represented as well as lots of history. The area was once home to workers who were employed in factories that spanned across Oslo. The people who originally lived in this area were normally working-class immigrants.


As I stated above, for this blog I will be focusing on what I heard in this area and my analysis of those sounds. I will start with the Grønland T-bane, where we came out of the terminal. This area seemed to be the most concentrated in terms of foot traffic. The street was made up of cobblestone and brick. This provided for some very interesting acoustics. When a woman in heels walked by, it provided for very distinctive clicking on the brick. It was a noise that you could hear from quite far away. The close proximity of the buildings to each other made the sounds even more luminous. Every heel strike would provide a certain note that allowed me to tell where they were coming from and in what direction they were headed.


Also, while in the center of Grønland, I could pick out at least three different languages being spoken. One that sounded like a Romance language, one that was Arabic, and the third I could identify as Norwegian. This leads back to the diversity of this area as many of the ethnicities in Oslo are congregated here. It was also evident by the different restaurants in Grønland. While walking through the market, I noticed that there was a lot of commotion going on but no one trying to sell you anything. This was much different than markets I have been through in other cities. All of these sounds point towards the rich history of not only Oslo but also Grønland. The background of the area as a working-class neighborhood is important to remember, and still evident today. The shops were well maintained as well as their stock inside. The care the owners showed to their work could be seen in the organization of products such as clothing or food. The markets were organized by which food product they were selling. The store workers were constantly fixing anything that became unorganized in the department store next to our bench.


After these observations, we walked away from the T-bane. One noise caught my attention more than anything else. There was an almost island-themed guitar music coming from an alley way. When we found that particular alley, we found a colorful tiki bar. The bar almost seemed out of place in the predominately Middle-Eastern neighborhood. The bartender was just setting up so I was not able to observe the clientele of this establishment. One noise I found absent from Grønland as a whole, was the sound of loud cars. Most of the cars I saw were electric. This is also another difference between Oslo and the various others cities I have visited. My analysis of this is that many of the people are conscious of the environment and gas mileage. Norway leads the world in electric cars per capita. An article by Zlata Rodionva states that electric and hybrid cars combined made up more than 50% of all car sales in Norway in January 2017. The high use of these cars has been my observation not only on Grønland but in Oslo as well. This can point towards the future of Oslo. The people of Oslo seem to want to be environmentally conscious and have renewable energy for everyone.



Photo Credit:

Rodionva, Zlata (2017) Half of All Cars in Norway Are Now Electric or Hybrid. The Independent March 7, 2017

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