I set off on my Fulbright Specialist adventure heading to Oslo, Norway. While working on various nursing curriculum strategies, conducting leadership workshops, and giving talks on evidence-based practice, I started noticing something else. There was the essence of “hygge” all around me. As a newcomer to Norway, I wondered, could I gain some of this cultural experience while I was here?
If you don’t know anything about “hygge,” it is a term used primarily in Scandinavian countries (but it is spreading to the US) that describes a mindset or state of being. Originally derived from Danish (Oslo sits almost right across the sea from Copenhagen), “hygge” (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a word used when acknowledging a feeling or a moment, that is cozy, warm, contented, comforting, special, or charming. To be “hyggeligt” doesn’t take extraordinary events or activities; “hygge” can occur, and often does, in day-to-day activities or experiences.
To become more “hygge-integrated” with my Norwegian (and other Scandinavian) colleagues, I needed to take a step back and take a deep breath, and slow my mind, activities, and spirit down a notch or two. Case in point -busy American at work in the office (type, write, read, type, write, read, repeat)– you get the picture. Suddenly, the faculty all gathered for lunch –together– and took the time to come out of their offices and break bread as a group. No one gobbled down their lunch getting ready to spurt back to their paper, lecture, or meeting (oh, except me the first time we did this as I had no idea how to settle down). Everyone focused, not on work issues, but pleasant conversations of last night’s good concert, the new restaurant reviews, plans for family gatherings and the like. It is just a cozy, relaxed, good-feeling lunch – a little bit of “hygge” at work.
One of the wonderful opportunities provided by a Fulbright experience is the chance to know professional acquaintances on a deeper level as friends. I was the happy recipient of many meals prepared by my new friends at their homes and, of course, the “hygge” continues. Setting a beautiful table, candles, preparing meals together, flowers, hours of conversation – all are standard “hygge” experiences when invited to a friend’s house.
Each of my Fulbright experiences has allowed me to develop creative ideas for research and educational partnerships, learn a different way of thinking, and forge closer bonds. I tried to give you a feel for my entry into “hyggeligt” but to me, this also included the content and comfortable feeling you get being with new friends. Well, I’d love to write more but guess who just got invited for cake and kaffe? After all, it is afternoon in Oslo.
Dianne Morrison Beedy – Fulbright to Norway 2018-19