Tag archives for nation

The Past and The Future

This year has been a crazy one, full of lots of adventures and new experiences. Living in a new country is always interesting, it comes with both good and bad; the one thing I know for sure is that there is never a dull moment. I have really grown to love the Swedish lifestyle, however there are still many small things that I miss regularly about Canada.

Obviously, I’ve spent most of my time in Sweden this year going to school and studying. To some this may seem like a boring way to spend your time, but it’s not quite the same for me. My friends like to call me a life long student. Going to school, sitting in a lecture hall with a cup of coffee and learning from some of the smartest people in my field is what I like to do.

Besides studying, I have had a lot of time to really experience student life. There are an endless amount of corridor parties, nation pub nights, gasques, and club nights. There is no doubt that the student life here in Uppsala is lively and experiencing it all is a must if you are student.  The pub nights are a great way to relax and get away from schoolwork and the student gasques give you the opportunity to get into your formal gowns and suits, while eating a 3 course meal and drinking snaps.

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It’s Christmas Time

Christmas is the time of year when family and friends get together to eat food, have drinks and exchange gifts. In Sweden the celebration is no different. There are many parties, lots of Christmas food, and plenty of good times.

One of the great things about Christmas is there is no shortage of things to do. In North America we typically celebrate Christmas on Christmas day with presents in the morning and turkey at night. In Sweden, most people spend Christmas Eve with their families. This involves an abundant amount of food in the form of a Christmas table, lots of sweets and goodies, followed by the exchanging of gifts.

There is no way you will leave any Christmas party hungry! You may even need to roll out the door. This year we spent the day of Christmas Eve baking and decorating ginger snaps. We may not be artists, but it’s a good way to spend the morning. So, there was definitely no shortage of sweets.  Read more » >>

In (and out of) the club

It’s Friday night in Sweden. What’s one to do? Go ice fishing? Make meatballs? Try your hand at naked sled dog racing?

Student pubs are very popular on campus. Photo: Ben Mack

When I’m faced with such a dilemma, I prefer to ask the locals.

However, their advice is sometimes contradictory.

Swede 1: Go to the club!

Swede 2: Whatever you do, don’t go to the club!

Huh? Last time I was so confused, a buddy and I wound up accidentally driving into rural Eastern Oregon trailer park in the middle of a police raid. Hadn’t talked so well since my high school graduation speech.

However, club/pub life can be a major part of a student’s social life – for good or ill.

But face it: going out to a club, paying the ridiculously inflated admission fee, the even more astronomical prices for a drink (or two, or three, or seven), and then paying yet again for some girl you’re never going to see again and a cab ride home, makes one seriously question your mental fitness.

If the situation was indeed that hopeless, this column would end right HERE. Done. Kaput. You’ve already clicked on the next link, and vowed never to read anything by this author again.

Thankfully there’s a handy innovation known as student-friendly prices to help you get by. And when you have two pubs on campus – and a third across the street – it can mean the difference between a night out or a night watching yet another “Sex and the City” rerun.

Going out’s an interesting experience, to be sure. You see more drama than an adaption of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” Why, just last night I saw some girl slap a guy. Didn’t hear the whole conversation, but something about “soup.” Gentlemen, remember to cook for your girlfriends. Or else.

Going out can be a great way to spend time with friends. Photo: Ben Mack

But I can see Swedes’ contradictory views on the student pubs/clubs (been here a year and I’m yet to figure out why exactly they’re technically called pubs even though they really are nightclubs).

After-parties can sometimes be as crazy as fun as the party itself. Photo: Ben Mack

On one hand, they’re a great social release from all those hours of studying. Jumping up and down whilst losing a good kilo of sweat is naturally a good way to lose weight, and it’s a rare opportunity to see Swedes let loose their famously restrained emotions.

On the other hand… well, going to the club can be something like “Survivor,” only with more wildlife. Somehow, the combination of alcohol, loud music, flashing lights, and bodies packed into a small room more tightly than sardines in a can turns even the most mild-mannered person into a raging party animal. Oh, and there’s also the sheer brutality of Swedish partying, which usually involves more steps than filling out your tax return. They usually include:

  • Pre-party, usually at someone’s flat. Can start as early as 4 p.m.
  • Party at the club/pub.
  • After-party with several dozen people, usually in a flat.
  • After-after-party. Smaller, but still at least a dozen people.
  • After-after-after party (AKA morning). May or not be the same people you originally started partying with. Typically ends by 7 or 8 a.m.

Up to 16 hours of partying. Brutal. The Ethiopians may usually win marathons, but when it comes to marathon partying, Sweden sweeps – ehrm, stays awake longer – than the competition.

If you do decide to hit the club, here’s some advice:

Seeing people wearing Halloween costumes for no apparent reason is a sure sign you're in a student pub. Photo: Jordan Tuchek

  1. Dress the part. And by dress the part, I mean wear whatever. Seeing fellow students wearing Halloween costumes for no apparent reason is not uncommon. If you want to lose more weight, I suggest wearing a parka with galoshes. Winter boots are also good for building leg strength.
  2. Bring a friend or 20. The more the merrier, right? Besides, conga lines look cooler with more people. And no one wants to dance by themselves, unless your name is Dennis Rodman.
  3. Eat right. An overpriced kebab from the kebab stands outside may look and smell tempting, but you’ll regret it later when you realize you can buy the same thing during the day for a third of the price. Likewise, you tend to discover buying nachos from the bar isn’t a good idea when you spill hot cheese all over yourself – or worse, the cute girl you’re dancing with in the expensive dress.
  4. Bring extra cash. You never know where you’ll end up afterwards, literally. It’s a good idea to have money in case you need to take a bus back to campus or call a cab. There’ve been nights where I’ve met new people and found myself eight hours later several kilometers north of campus in the Växjö suburb of Araby with absolutely no idea how to get home, or who the people, all of whom are dressed in black and most of whom have multiple and very large piercings, even are.
  5. Remember your ID. To get into the clubs on campus, you need your student ID, photo ID (like a driver’s license or passport) and proof of membership in one of the student nations. And Swedes are immune to bribes. Trust me, I’ve tried it.

One of the drawbacks of going out can be sleep deprivation. Photo: Matthew Weinberg

“But what about safety?” you ask. “There must be more creepy guys around than salesmen at the Antiques Roadshow!” So is it dangerous? Not really. With one of the lowest crime rates in the world, not much is expected to happen to you if you go out. Still, it’s always a good idea to use common sense: use the buddy system, don’t drink and drive, and – unless you have kielbasa for brains – avoid the temptation to jump in lakes while under the influence.

Oh, and make sure you don’t have classes the next day. Because by the time you get home, it’ll probably already be light outside.

Even in December.

Always remember: do your schoolwork before partying! Photo: Gertrud Larsson

What IS a Nation?

I have tried many times to explain the institution that is a nation to many of my friends or family at home; however, I never seem to truly describe the full essence that incorporates nation life.

My nation in Uppsala, Västgöta

A nation is like a cafe, you can go for coffee and fika; it’s like a restaurant, you can eat food on the cheap (maybe not the same quality, but you can’t argue with cheap food); it’s like a pub, there are cheap drinks, pub food, live bands; its like a club, they have dance floors, DJs, and fancy drinks; it’s student housing, every nation has rooms available to rent (although you have to be a member for 3 semesters on average, unless your very lucky); it’s like a student club, with intramural sports, choirs, photography groups etc…; and lastly it’s a possible job opportunity (although it probably should not be considered a job because while you may work all night, the pay will probably only buy you a few drinks at the end of your shift).

According to the Uppsala University, most of the nations that exist today have been around since the 17th century, each representing a region of Sweden. In the past, each student attending the university would join a nation according to which region they came from.

While it used to be mandatory to join a nation, today it is up to you to choose if you want to join and which nation fits you best.

Maybe one of the best characteristics is that you must be a student to join. And of course, if you have friends visiting from other universities, they can get a guest card and experience nation life first hand

Singing traditional songs at the Ladies Gasque in Västgöta Nation. Photo: Martyna Mikusinska

One of the more traditional customs of nations are the different gasques put on every semester by all nations. A gasque is a formal event including a pre-dinner cocktail, 3 course meal, snaps, wine, an after party and of course many many traditional songs and speeches through the night. They usually have different themes ranging from international students gasque, guys or girls gasque, lucia gasque, lamb’s head gasque etc…

While not every Swedish university has student nations to the same extent as Uppsala and Lund, most universities have sittnings or club nights that are similar.

Every student should join a nation if nothing else then to experience such a historical student culture like nowhere else in world.



For some further information on Uppsala’s Student Nations check out these websites,

Nations Guide – links to all nations and a calendar of events

Uppsala Student’s Union – Going to a gasque

Uppsala University – Student Unions and Student Nations