As we scream towards the last half of August, the university is transforming from the all but deserted campus it was when I arrived to something much more alive.
There are many more Swedes around. Many seem to be freshers having tours around the campus before the start of the semester. Some, however, seem to be students from various clubs milling about for no readily apparent reason.
This has given me and my fellow exchange students ample time to take in the traditions of Linköping University:
Every faculty / society has its own coloured overalls. They are primarily worn at kravaller, which are parties, to make it easy to tell who is in your group. As an exchange student, mine will be blue with a yellow stripe. Customisation is the name of the game, the idea is to put your name on it and add badges of the events that you’ve been to. A good party gets its badge on the front, a bad party goes on your back.
I quite like this idea. Especially because of the sense of belonging that it encourages. I am yet to see the effect at a kravall. I will report back as soon as I can on that one!
This is a little more strange and rather hard to describe. Making assumptions based on what I’ve seen and what I have been told, this is the deal: If you are a members of a club (not all clubs do this… I think) you all dress up in similar uniforms. These uniforms seem to be anything from red floor-length robes to crocodile costumes. Once all suitably dressed up, you march in single file from place to place for no particular reason while maintaining a blank facial expression. You must also only turn at right angles and not say anything.
This seems harmless, in that you just have to go around the line of marching undergraduates. However, when trying to learn Swedish, it is rather distracting!
I’ve been chatting to some other exchange students about this and asking them what they think about it. Opinions range from non-committal to an active dislike. It certainly isn’t viewed as being something that we want to do. I’m really not sure what I think about it. On the one hand, every university has it’s quirks and Linköping is entitled just as every other university to uphold their traditions. On the other, it is a rather counter-intuitive thing for students to do.
The best reaction to this tradition has been from a couple of the German exchange students who both voiced the opinion that they would never be able to march around university in the same way… Especially if they said that it was a tradition!