Since I’ve been throwing a lot of words around without properly explaining them.
SO WHAT’S THIS NATION THING?
Nations are student social groups unique to Uppsala University. Similar to a mixture between the traditional role of student unions, and greek life. There are 12 nations at Uppsala, each named after a region in Sweden. Membership used to be restricted to only those who are from that region in Sweden, but now anyone can join (except for one nation which still enforced this rule, but makes an exception for international students). Each nation has a building where they hold events and offer services which vary by nation. Many have a pub and/or restaurant where lunch, dinner or weekend brunch. Many hold club nights, either weekly or less frequently in the smaller nations, and gasques. Some have a band, or hobby clubs (which I described in an earlier post) lots of things! Also, very few things are limited to only members of the nation. You usually get a discount if it’s at your nation but as long as you are a member, you can most things.
YEAH SO, WHATS THIS ABOUT WORKING?
I joined one of the bigger nations, Södermanlands-Nerikes or Snerikes for short, which has holds a club night every Tuesday. As I mentioned in a previous post, the pay is pretty bad, but most people work in the nations for the experience and not the money. I’ve only worked a few times – first as bar back, then a waitress, and last time I was throw into bar tending on very busy night with no prior training and learning on the fly. I probably served a lot of really badly made drinks. But it was really interesting to observe people from the other side of the bar in a way that I would never think to while among my fellow students.
A gasque is a traditional Swedish dinner. It varies by region but usually has a theme and some sort of dress code. Anywhere from semi-causal to the spring ball which is long dress and tux. It is a multi course dinner, intermittent with songs and traditions. My first gasque was the reccegasque at my nation, which is held at the beginning of the semester to welcome new students. Traditions and rituals are different in each nation. It started with a procession by nation to the University Building where there was an opening ceremony and speeches (all in Swedish of course). Then we went back to our respective nations for dinner. There is a seating chart so you get to meet new people. You walk in two by two with your “date” (the guy sitting to your left). One course at a time which take forever to eat because they are interrupted by breaks for Swedish songs, and performances from the choir, band, and a skit. A toast after every song – eye contact with your date- the person to your other side – the person across from you- drink- repeat- and down. After dinner you sign peoples’ song books and leave a bite mark. The last song ends with everyone standing on their chair, and you can’t sit back on it or you will be cursed with bad sex for the next few years. And then a dance party into the night.
The next week I went to the International Gasque which was in English and a lot less traditional. It felt more like dinner and a show since the MC’s did comical skits throughout the night and it included silly songs like Hakuna Matata and to the tune of Wrecking Ball.