Linköpings Universitet starts to liven up!

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:

Overalls

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!

Marching

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!

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One thought on “Linköpings Universitet starts to liven up!

  1. Being a swede that experienced all that is happening at Linköping University this time a year for the first time three years ago, I have been following your first blog posts with interest. It is always interesting to read the thoughts of someone who is from another country when they see everything sweden (and Linköping University) has to offer, especially when not everything at the campus is considered normal behavior! Even after more than two years I still cannot identify all the different overalls and what kind of studies/programs they represent.

    My overall is purple with yellow stripes (cool stuff, I know). This identifies me as someone that is studying for a bachelors degree in Computer science, Mechanical engineering or similar. It means I am part of “Lingsektionen” which is basically “The Ling section” in english (I guess) which is just a name, a way to group together the students that study areas that are in some way related, similar programs. For example, Lingsektionen contains the three-year engineering programs (bacehlors degree). Different programs are grouped together in these “sections” and the section have their own overalls. This is hard to explain so if you do not understand a word of what I am saying, that is why. There is actually an Wikipedia article that lists the different colors of overalls here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Student_Overall_Colours#Link.C3.B6ping_University_.5B22.5D
    To take it one step further in what I like to call overallception: not everyones overalls are the same style. I believe (but I am not 100% sure) that the group of people within the section that wears overalls with kind of suspenders instead of the normal ones are the ones that organizes the sections parties.

    And this is also tied in with the costume-clad people marching around campus (and some other parts of town). Every one of these sections also have a group of older students (year two and up) that basically plan out how to welcome and arrange activites for the new students during their first two weeks (called “Nolle-P”). And it is this group of people that also take on the costumes for those first weeks of the fall term. They have direct contact with the new students of their section during this time and mostly do fun or goofy stuff that both put the new students at ease and also makes them interact with their classmates and other students. I realise this is a very strange way to achieve this but I also remember their part of my first two weeks at LiU (Linköping University) to be a fun break from all the math we had to study. I guess it made us feel like we were part of this group of new students, we were all in the same boat. I made some really good friends during those weeks.

    This group of students (costume-clad) also arranges one competition each (one per section that is) during the two first weeks which includes gravity race (hope I got that right) down the longest downslope on campus and also a competition to see how many new students you can get into one old broken car. The group that hosts the competition are also the judges and all kinds of bribes are not only accepted, but encouraged, and are part of the competition. Theses bribes comes in forms of sweets, baked goods or maybe someone to hold an umbrella over the judges when the sun is out. Its all good fun. And maybe a little crazy. These competitions usually takes place during lunch hour (12-13) and will probably take place during the coming two weeks. There is of course the possibility that they have changed the competitions since last I witnessed them, but only time will tell.

    As a exchange student you may not have the exakt same experience these coming weeks as other students, which is part of why I wanted to at least try to explain some of what is going on, but there are some things you will definitely be able to enjoy, like the competitions during lunch =) All this should start on tuesday (which is the first day for the new non-exchange-students) and end on the 30th. The following monday which is the second day of september is when the older students (year 2 and up) begin their new classes.

    Woah this really turned out to be a long comment, but I would just like to end by saying that I enjoy your blog and I hope you will continue to write about your time at LiU and that I hope you will have great time here.

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