Uppsala is world famous for its particularly awesome student life and what makes it so are ‘Student Nations’.
The nations are student organisations that date back more then 400 years and originally when their function was for older student to support freshmen from their region to settle into life in the ‘university city’. They did this by providing help with accommodation, support and places to socialise (pubs and cafes). ln the past there were more then there are today and each organisation corresponded to a different region in Sweden.
Now 13 student nations still remain, some have merged together and although geographical regions are not that important anymore, you still choose to be member of one of them and someway you identify yourself with the organisation.
Stockholms’ Nation’s Main Hall
What does a nation have?
It depends on its size but generally they each have:
- A Student Pub where you can find cheap drinks that are taxed less than in normal laces (you can find beers for £3/€3.50, which in comparison to standard £5 is a bargain).
- Student Club night once a week. Yes, that’s right, just for students so cheaper prices and unlike Saturday nights at ‘Tiger Tiger’ in Manchester, you will not encounter horny lasses celebrating their A-levels 40 years too late…
- Restaurant once a week. A la carte menu with really nice food where you can easily have a 3 course meal for £12 (and food in Sweden is generally more expensive).
- Student Cafe – study lounge: where you can have hot drinks, milkshakes, sandwiches, salads and delicious pastries all of which is home-made.
- Formal dinners once a month (called gasques) where food is particularly good, everyone dresses-up, there is entertainment during the meal (although most of it is in Swedish so I just nod and pretend to sing-along). Food + drinks + club/after-party = 300kr (so approx. £30/€35).
Västgöta Male quire performes as part of the entertainment provided during V.G.’s Gasque (formal dinner) in April 2013 .
- Sport teams, societies, film-nights, culture nights and so on…
- Student housing (cheap, good quality, bills included and you don’t have to deal with dick-headed agents who try to capitalise on your misfortune of having signed a contract with them).
How is all this even possible?
Thanks to the time dedicated by loads of student-volunteers that do not get paid and 4 one-year interns that work weekdays 9-6 in their offices and often even during weekends and get paid minimum wage. Everyone works for the benefit of other students in the ‘students for students’ spirit that should and wise administration of the funds and reinvestment of them in creating benefit for the students.
What do they get?
A great social experience. You meet so many people and interact with them in a different environment from the standard study or party one. Whether you are flipping burgers in the kitchen or pouring shots during the club you have an awesome time.
Staff Dinner at ‘Östgöta Nation’. Once a month, after voluntarily spending a Sunday cleaning the entire venue, all who helped are invited to a 3 course meal with drinks and after-party included, all of which is paid by the nation.
You learn loads and no previous experience needed. From how to make cocktails, to baking pastries, recipes in the kitchen and if your colleague has good tunes on his iPod, you get to broaden your musical repertoire (before working in nations I thought Justin Bieber and Marco Carta were the best artists in the world #mindblowing).
I you have a position of responsibility you have staff discount on all food, drinks and formal dinners, +1 club-night pass that allows you to skip the cue and get free-entry and earn ‘accommodation points’ that help you work-yourself up the waiting list to get student housing with the nation. You get a point for each semester you are member of the nation and if you take a position of responsibility you get, at least, one extra one per semester (I believe it varies on the level of responsibility and the number of hours you’re required to do every week).
Put stuff on your C.V. This works a treat especially if you hold a position of responsibility instead of being a casual worker. This is a list of most of them (that I can think of):
– Club master
– Pub master
– Official photographer
– Magazine Editor
– International Secretary
– Bar Manager
– Kitchen master
– Head waiter
– Breakfast host
– Lunch host
– Café host
– Weekend Brunch host
And I think there may be more..
Could you imagine something similar working in other parts of the world?
I tried to: Click here to read the idea I had to try and improve Manchester’s Student Union.
Useful Links (in English):
Student Nation Guide
Facebook pages of some of the nations: