One of the reasons why many students choose Uppsala University is its vibrant student life and traditions. While the traditions can be traced far back in the past, they are also constantly being renewed and adapted to our time.
Is it possible to raft the Fyris river when the water level is at its highest? Two students decided to try on the Walpurgis Eve of 1975 - and that was the start of one of Uppsala's most popular traditions, the running of the falls.
The running of the falls is one of many events at Uppsala's largest student festival, Walpurgis Eve. The city's streets are filled with people celebrating by having picnics in Ekonomikumparken, donning their student caps outside Carolina Rediviva, listening to spring songs by the Gunilla Bell and much more.
A ‘spex’ is an amateur comedy theatre act performed by university students. Uppsala spexes are parodical plays with rhyming dialogue, often with historical motifs, songs and music. They differ from spexes in Lund where the dialogue is not rhymed.
Spexes are a part of Uppsala's rich student culture. Thanks to Uppsala’s 13 student ‘nations’ or clubs, student life here is truly unique. Join one of them to get access to pubs, lunches, libraries, balls, clubs, theatre, music and sports activities. The nations were founded in the 1600s and have since then been like a second home to students. Here you can grab a cup of coffee, study, borrow books from the nation library or join one of the many choirs and orchestras. Or why not take part in a spex?
The university and the student unions arrange welcome activities at the beginning of each term, where new students get an introduction to Uppsala and its student life.
A part of the Walpurgis Eve celebration in Uppsala is donning of the caps, which takes place on the hill outside Carolina Rediviva. At precisely three o’clock in the afternoon the vice-chancellor raises their white cap, waving from the balcony to everyone who has gathered below, and the crowds wave and cheer back. The effect is likened to a sea of anemones.
Traditionally, classes at the University start at 15 minutes past the hour. Precisely when this practice originated is impossible to determine. However, it is probably a result of the fact that the students did not have their own pocket watches. But in the old university towns of Uppsala and Lund virtually all students lived in the vicinity of the cathedral. When they heard the bells ring, it was time to leave home and still make it to the lecture.
In Uppsala, longer than anyone can remember, it has been simply assumed that students and teachers will take the academic quarter into account. These 15 minutes are deeply rooted in the academic tradition of Uppsala University.
The Flogsta scream
No one knows exactly when students in the Uppsala area of Flogsta started screaming out their angst into the night. Some sources claim with certainty that this behaviour started as early as the 1970s, others that it arose during exam periods in the 1980s.
However, there is no doubt that the scream can be heard every evening at 22:00 on Sernanders väg in Flogsta, from the windows of students who feel the need to let off some steam.
The Flogsta scream has become a tradition, an attraction and a much needed safety valve for all those who feel that a cry of angst can work wonders for handling the stress and demands of student life.