It’s a year since I stood in a large physics room in front of two teachers and explained motions in two dimensions. A year since I waited 7 whole minutes before I got my grade. A year since I, with a beginning fever, received roses, hugs, a porcelain owl and the hat.
The hat is handed out to the Danish graduates that come out every year and it’s a symbolic key to the university but also the key to the best party ever.
I’ll take this opportunity to explain the Danish school system.
Kindergarten until 5-6 years old.
9 years of obligatory schooling and some take an extra year if they don’t feel ready to continue or if they want to do boarding school or be a transfer student.
There’s a bunch of options after 9th grade but the most common course is STX, which is “the common gymnasium”.
That’s where I went (math/physics student) and once you’re done you get the hat as a symbol. Once you get the hat you’re ready to become “a student” at the university, which is why all the young people running around are called students.
Students have their student hat and their student drive and their student parties and their student presents.
Their major is beer-drinking and getting as many weird symbols cut in their hat:
A square for a whole case of beer!
A triangle for watching the sunrise after a whole night of partying.
A cut is made in the shadow if you pass out; the entire shadow disappears if you need to go to the hospital. If you’ve still got the strength to hook up with the nurse after that, the storm-safety goes off.
It’s the dream. For two weeks bars give free drinks/shots for people with this year’s hats on and you’re allowed to act as crazy as you want. For my part I put on a few kg from the drinking and the excessive chip and barbeque hangover-eating.
(For real – a whole week of constant hangover and constant cravings. It’s insane. I ate so many corn nuts that I remember that taste when I hear some of the songs we played. When I got back from my interrail trip I tasted them again but without a week’s worth of drinking it wasn’t as good.)
The biggest part of becoming a student is the student drive.
The class hires a car to drive around from house to house. Each classmate is visited. (eh, almost. I wasn’t, and it’s a great sadness.)
Each house offers an enormous amount of food and alcohol.
We had pancakes with nutella at one place, strawberries and watermelon at another, champagne and sandwhiches, miniburgers with beer etc. etc.
You let go. That’s the thing – this is the one time in your life you get to just let it go and PARTY HARDY!
The best part is: everybody’s in on it!
As the car drives around it honks relentlessly and everybody cheers and honks back.
Our car had a graph (yes, we’re geeks) with an x-coordinate “how many honks we give” and a y-coordinate “how much beer we’ll drink.” It was exponential.
Is there a lot of sex? Certainly. And skinny bathing (earns you a wave in the hat) And nakedness.
I vividly remember one of my classmates taking off his clothes right beside me and doing the helicopter towards the car driving behind us.
Ah, well – one more story to tell!
Personally I had quite a bit of bad luck.
I fell ill on the day of my final exam and the next day I had a fever. That was when we were supposed to drive, though, so I did what any sensible Dane would do and took a shot of schnapps (spirit made from potatoes) and went riding with my classmates.
It was an amazing experience but certainly also a very privileged one. Imagine that an entire country conspires so YOU can have a great party. Screw the costs. “You finished the education we just paid for – now go drink until every brain cell ferments and you think Pythagoras is a cool brand of bleach.”
Is it right? Is it wrong?
I don’t know but it’s an awesome experience. One unlike any other.
Congratulations to this year’s students from here! *Downs some schnapps*
What celebrations do you have in your country? Are there insane parties that seem otherworldly and extreme to others? Festivals? What’s the attitude towards alcohol?