Novischfest!

"You send your child to the schoolmaster, but 'tis the schoolboys who educate him."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Are you a freshman at Lund? Welcome. Hang on to your hat.

You have many things in store for you for the next month. Let's hope you like dressing up in all kinds of costumes and that you're a fan of alcohol... it's also good if you have a significant amount of stamina.

It's possible you might have to start the first week of school hanging out downtown in pink spandex or in Peter Pan costumes along with your other new classmates. You'll chant songs and crowd the lines at Systembolaget. It's an initiation of sorts... but you'll have fun.

Over the next couple of weeks you'll definitely have more than enough theme parties to attend, often arranged by the student unions of the department you're studying at. Beware if you're studying at LTH (engineering department), for you have the heaviest initiation that will last for weeks where the upperclassmen put your drinking abilities to the ultimate test several times a week and your professors simultaneously load you up with major projects to complete.

Hopefully you've joined a nation. And not just any nation... but one that offers an abundance of activities for you as a "novisch" (new student). There will be pub nights devoted to you, offering free pizza and volunteer opportunities. There might be tournament of games between your nation and others. There might even be secret weekend getaways. Too much to pick from, really.

But you definitely don't want to skip Novischfesten.

This dinner is devoted to the new students, welcoming them to Lund and to their nation. It completes the first month in Lund, or as it might be called, the "novischperiod." It is a formal three course dinner complete with skits, songs, speeches, and a thumping dance party. For some of the nations, it takes place in a beautiful hall in a castlelike building where student life events take place. It's completely student produced and run, as are all nation events. There will be hundreds of people. And definitely enough wine, beer and snaps to drown a major city.

If you are a guy, you will be matched with a senior girl for the dinner, and as a new girl, you will be matched with an older guy. They will take care of you for the night... arranging your pre-party, introducing you to people, sitting by you at dinner, guiding you in the songs, arranging your mellanfest ("middle party", where you leave the building so that the dining hall can turn into a dance hall and you can continue to get your drink on at some nearby apartment's dance party), and then guiding you back to the dancehall to continue on for hours.

Expect this: You might arrive to the dinner already stumbling and mumbling because of the pre-party. You will have to stand on your chair and sing and wave your napkin. You will have red wine spilled on your table, probably on you. You'll forget to eat, or not even have a chance to. You'll lose something. Maybe knock over a candlestick with a live flame. You might end up heading home too early because you were just too incapable of dragging yourself back for the danceparty... or you might not even head home until midday the next day, for one reason or another...

Start of the dinner and the 500+ guests:


Sabina and her three novisch boys:


Dessert ready to be served:


The event hall:


The first round of chair dancing and napkin waving:
video


But also expect that you will have one of the most memorable nights of your university career. You will make a gang of new friends. You will shout and sing and laugh and feel honored. You will feel truly like a part of your nation. You will feel like you finally have settled in, and since you made it through this, you can make it through any event in Lund. And if you've still managed to hang on to that hat I first mentioned... well you'll probably feel like just tossing it in the air anyway.

*Note: I didn't exactly attend the dinner... I'm new here but not really a novisch. I did work the event for my nation, however, and starting at noon until 11 pm I moved tables, placed silverware, set up the bars, sold drink tickets, helped out the three main event producers, and jumped in to do a little bit of serving at the end. I made friends with my co-workers, made friends with the tipsy singing guests who pulled me over to find out where I was from and try to have me throw back a glass of wine with them, and after the dinner was over and the next wave of workers arrived I went off to the "mellanfest" for the volunteers; an intimate little party in the basement of our nation with free-flowing cider and beer and the best tunes. We went back to the event hall and then I danced the night away with some of my old and new Swedish friends. An unforgettable night for me as well.

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