Fyfan vad bra ni är, för ni har tagit studenten!
Yesterday, the 3rd year students at Välkommaskolan have “tagit studenten”, or graduated!
Though I’ve been warned many times that the Swedish graduation is quite a party and very different from the American one I am accustomed to, I still found myself saying “wow this is crazy” a few too many times to count.
Just before 10:30, parents, various family members, teachers, and many remaining students not graduating started filling into the gym’s seating. The lights were turned off in the gym, making it a black hole that your eyes eventually adjusted to after sitting for a minute. After asking everyone around me if the lights were ever going to turn on, we all assumed the answer was going to be no.
Right on time, the graduating students came out. Did they eloquently walk out in single filed lines? Ummm well, not exactly. No. The graduating students ran out of a door in the back of the gym to a fist-pumping song that you would most likely hear if you were at a club. Everyone in the audience was clapping along, the graduating students screaming and many of them blowing into whistles. The students were eventually seated, by class, in front of a huge music stage.
Something that is also unique to a Swedish graduation, is that the girls wear white dresses and the boys dress in suits. Everyone has a white “mössa”, which looks like a sailors hat. It is delicately embroidered with the students name and usually class as well. You can customize them how you will, so some people also have something written on the back. I have a friend who had a Swedish flag on the inside of hers, which looked extremely cool!
Live music was performed by students at the school. It was mainly the same group of people, just rotating slightly each time! Most were graduating but there were a few who were in the 2nd year. The first musical act was my first host sister, Emma’s, song group! The whole song group (consisting of 5 girls, I believe) won scholarships for their work in the song group and at the arts school! Bra jobbat ni! During the music, many of the graduates stood up on their chairs to dance.
Next, the 4 principles greeted all of the attendees. Funny enough, they were all dressed in NASA astronaut costumes, with formal clothes underneath, and gave us (directed towards the graduates) directions for the rocket launches take off! The destination was the future. They told us where the exits where, cue the 3 other principles viewing the crowd the directions like a flight attendant would do, pointing to the rear, sides, and front exits. They also demonstrated how to use the oxygen and to put on helmets in-case of emergency. They finished off wishing the graduates a comfortable and nice trip, and thanking them for flying with Lapplands gymnasium!
For the rest of this ceremony, the order was: music act, award(s)/scholorship(s) given, repeat. Somewhere in one of the music slots, the whole graduating class stood up and sang a song together. At some point, Celine (the other exchange student at my school) and I were also called up to receive a gift from the school! We received a really nice candle holder “to remind us of the 24 hour sunlight and northern lights we have experienced here in Gällivare” how thoughtful!
To end, the principle NASA astronauts sent the graduates off, but not before all of the graduates flapped and waved around their caps! Almooost similar to throwing off your cap like in the USA, but they couldn’t possibly throw these amazingly detailed caps, could they?
There was a pause, enough time for the graduates to eat lunch and get taggad, or psyched for the mottagning! Ha, as if they weren’t taggad already! They had been ready since early that morning. It is tradition to have a champagne breakfast with your class the morning of the graduation. The Swedish graduation is actually about being completely wasted the whole entire time (okay maybe not true for everyone, but you can smell the alcohol on some people). It is completely 100% acceptable to be drinking on school grounds and during graduation. The legal drinking age is 18 in Sweden, and the graduates are 18-19.
Mottagning translates to reception, and the mottagning was amazing! Family and friends gathered around the entrance of the school with cardboard signs. These cardboard signs had a baby picture of their graduating student on them! People are also holding flowers, flasks of alcohol, and stuffed animals to give to the students. There were so many people crowded around, I had never seen so many people on school grounds before.
Directly at 1:30, after a countdown from one of the principles (they had taken off their NASA costumes by now however), all of the students ran, or calmly walked, out of the school. They look for family first, finding where they are by looking at the signs. Once found they usually give the sign to the student. Many pictures are taken and everyone seemed so happy! An interesting thing is that these gifts I have previously mentioned, they are attached to a necklace, and the giver puts it around the neck of the graduate! I have no idea why this is, I’ve asked and I don’t think anyone really knows. It’s just one of those things that everyone does but no one has no idea the real reason anymore!
It’s really, well, odd to see everyone walking around with stuffed animals, flowers, plastic glasses, and bottles of alcohol around their necks. Odd makes it sound like it’s bad, but honestly I think it is so cool. Just utterly different and unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
A little bit after, the students start pilling into huge trucks. They’re called flak, or flat beds, but damn these trucks weren’t just your average pick up truck. They made banners to put on them a few days in advance. They ride around on them and eventually into the center of town, where they hop off of them! They are of course drinking during this whole ride, out of the glasses and bottles hung around their necks.
The signs hung on the trucks said things like We have graduated and funny things like “Thanks Wikipedia, Google, and copying and pasting.
I was unfortunately only in the 2nd year here, and the last year (3rd years) graduate. So I wasn’t able to participate in this crazy party madness of a Swedish graduation. There is hope, I really want to come back next year for studenten. That’s you know a year away though, and who knows how that would work out. A girl can dream, right?
What to you think about the Swedish graduation? Did you think it was as crazy and wonderful as I did?