Tag archives for University
In Sweden back to school does not only mean back to classes, back to studying and back to writing papers, it means back to partying. At the beginning of every school year there is an orientation where the newbies get to know each other and the old students. The new students don’t only get to know each other, but also how university life will be like over the next few years.
In other parts of the world this is better known as hazing, frosh, or initiation, but in Sweden it is known as nollning.
Nollning: An introduction of new students to university life, where older students take responsibility for making the new students feel welcome through numerous “team building exercises”.
A week of nollning typically includes playing ridiculous games, dressing up, drinking great amounts of alcohol and taking part in welcome rituals. These new freshman students are usually dressed up in overalls, capes and wigs and then asked to complete numerous tasks, with a strategy of the more embarrassing the better.
Some activities can include dressing up as the opposite sex, jumping into a lake, drinking competitions, and any other initiation rituals the older students see fit. In the past this has even included a choreographed group dance number that must be done every time Taio Cruz’s Dynamite came on.
The orientation events are usually put on by the different student unions or student nations to let the new students know what the social side of university will look like. The new students get the opportunity to meet the more experienced students and benefit from their wisdom.
While this usually only involves new students to university, the international students are becoming more involved. The most popular orientation events, specifically for international students, include themed pub-crawls, where you get to meet lots of new people and also check out all the local nations, pubs and bars at the same time.
Nollning may only last a few weeks in Sweden, but that does not mean that the craziness ends. The costumes, pub crawls, parties, games and drinking lots of alcohol will definitely not end with nollning, but continue throughout the whole school year.
As soon as you arrive in Sweden there are many things you have to do before classes even start. Meeting your future classmates and getting to know all of the nations first-hand is important, but getting all your paper work done is also essential.
Here are some of the first things that need to get done when you arrive to Sweden:
Register at the tax office and get a personal number. You cannot do anything in Sweden without a personal number so it is really important to do first. If you are in Sweden for more than 1 year, you can apply at the tax office.
Sign up for a nation. To get the total Swedish university experience you have to join a nation. Once you have, you can apply to their housing, get a card into all of the nations, go to gasques, find some work etc… Your full student experience would not be complete without experiencing nation life.
Register to the student union and get a student card. As a student you can get discounts on everything in Sweden, but you need to have a student card to prove it. There are discounts on public transport, phone plans, books, restaurants and much more.
Get a tour of the libraries and get a library card. It is inevitable that, as a student, you will be spending time in a library. It is much easier to get a tour and a library card in the first few weeks so you don’t have to worry about figuring it all out right before your paper is due.
Get an official registration letter from your course coordinator. It is important to have some proof that you are actually registered and taking classes. A letter from your coordinator is usually good to have to prove you are currently studying.
Open up a bank account. Once you have a personal number and proof of registration from your course coordinator it is possible to open a Swedish bank account. It is always better to open an account in Sweden and save on expensive transaction and exchange fees from your bank at home.
Buy a cell phone/get a Swedish number. Having a phone is important to meeting up with all of your new classmates and having a Swedish number will save you long distance fees. Also, check to see if there are any good student plans for cheaper rates.
Getting these things done will prove to be a big relief and probably make the rest of your stay more enjoyable. And after all of the boring paperwork is done there is much more time for experiencing the nations and getting involved in all of the crazy orientation activities.
When on the topic of diploma ceremonies, Örebro University recently held a diploma ceremony for their international master’s students. I was invited, as a representative of the Swedish Institute, to say a few things about Sweden and some encouraging words about keeping in contact with Sweden in the future.
Except for being treated to Swedish folk music, a speech from the Vice-Chancellor of Örebro University and h’or d’euvres, the most fulfilling part of the ceremony was to see the well-deserved sense of pride and accomplishment in the faces of all the graduating students. Some which are heading straight home to their home countries, some that are pursuing a PhD at Örebro university or elsewhere, and some which are looking for work in Sweden.
What they all share however, is leaving the international community of fellow students and professors that they have been a part of the past years in Örebro and Sweden. What I hope that they will do, is stay in touch with Sweden and each other. The world needs cooperation and understanding, and who are better fit for the task than the international community of graduating students and researchers?
After a final pitstop at Örnsköldsvik to fill up on gas, clean windshields, and hunt around for Peter Forsberg (rumored to be in town), we continued straight through the university town of Umeå and hockey town of Skellefteå (pronounced “she left you”), finally arriving into Luleå around 8:30pm.