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Alcoholic Boy Scouts

Roisin Callaghan -

Roisin Callaghan -

I was witnessing what felt like a circus, everyone was dressed in different colourful overalls and bouncing around in unison at the ripe hour of 9am. What kind of caffeine filled fever dream had I just stumbled into?

The first few weeks on campus are a constant heavy stream of new information coming from every direction. On top of trying to understand how canvas works, where classes are and remembering all of your classmates' new names, you're thrown head first into this seemingly bizarre student life. Wondering why people walk around looking angry and shouting while wearing sunglasses or why a helicopter just landed in Ugglevikskällan. Why are there hundreds of students in high-vis vests or strange little hats? Who are these people who dress like bumblebees in their strange little bus? Why is everyone always dancing? Did they seriously just do a blood oath onstage?

Everyone is so secretive about their own chapter and everything seems to be an ancient tradition. The only supposed solution is to turn to the internet in an attempt to answer some questions but it only leads to more. No one wants to publicly discuss their traditions or the origin behind them. The only way to try to decipher the glimpses into other chapters while walking around campus is to try to pry it out of those who know.

Time goes by and the reception has finally come to an end, two weeks of chaos and fun. Almost forgetting what a full night's sleep feels like, and being well rested seems like a distant memory. It all comes to an end with the nØllegasque, watching the mottagare take to the stage to showcase what they’ve been up to behind the scenes. The reception seems like one big crazy blur. Next they take a classmate who's been ‘kidnapped’ and bring them onstage as some sort of supposed tradition. Recalling the events on the subway home makes it feel like some sort of fever dream. Maybe this is the end of the shenanigans, remembering that you came to KTH to actually get a degree, not to take part in some sort of cultish summer camp as it's been thus far. At least now there will be no more people chasing you down on the metro for not wearing the chapters’ nØlle symbol at all times.

Flashforward a few weeks and the semester is now well underway, making new friends and attending chapter events. The faces once behind the sunglasses are now just another person in the endless queue for the U building microwaves. You start going to your chapter hall more and meeting new people, eager to talk to those who know more about the chapter. Over time the feelings of intimidation by all these traditions has evolved into curiosity. You attend gasques, start learning the songs, buy an overall and begin to let go and give in. Although attending the first gasque may have set off warning bells in the ‘is this a scene from a horror movie’ sort of way, it begins to grow on you, forgetting that you’re in a room with people dressed identically while reciting the same songs. The feeling of singing chapters songs together with all your friends begins to bring a sense of pride.

Unlike actual boy scouts who get rewarded with patches for helping others and bringing value to society, you just got one for having a drink with an electric current through it. Last week you and your friend took two different shots and tried to mix them together, back and forth between your mouths, somehow without puking instantly. From nØllepubrundan there’s a vague memory of repeatedly getting hit over the head with a large hammer, all in the name of another patch for your overalls. As masochistic as it sounds from an outside perspective, it’s fun doing these things, enjoying the reaction from friends back home or from others asking where different new patches came from.

Every new patch to put on your overall is a rush of excitement, even if when the time comes to sew it on it feels like a near impossible task. Mom isn’t here to sew them all on, which means it’s time to learn for yourself. After releasing superglue isn't a lasting solution (as much as some people claim it to be) you give in and spend 45 minutes trying to sew the first patch only to realise the leg is now sewn shut. A plastic sandwich bag of patches grows until you finally watch a youtube tutorial and master the once impossible craft, getting excited every time there’s an event where you can wear an overall and earn more.

Applications for the next reception open and you remember the videos from the nØllegasque and how much fun it looked like the mottagare were all having. Submitting the application was a real full circle moment, you are going to be a fadder for the next reception. Eager to welcome brand new students into this exciting new student life, thinking back to your first day and reminiscing on how much has changed.

After a successful completion of your first year, the student life once described to friends back home as ‘alcoholic boy scouts’ is now just daily activities with friends. Evolving into one of those people who somehow can last an entire reception of working 24/7 while still being full of energy. You just spent a night in Osqvik partying with 100 other students with absolutely no sleep, all wearing the same matching overalls and dancing without thought every time one of the chapters’ songs came on. Last week you went to a gasque and sang all of the songs, something you can now do effortlessly, regardless of your sobriety or lack thereof. Next month you're going to get up at 9am and catch the pendeltag to Södertorn, there you will meet bus loads of students from colleges all over Stockholm. The sea of overalls will flow from bar to bar all day until finally completing the pilgrimage, ending at KTH over 15 hours later. None of these traditions that once caused such confusion and thoughts of extremism are even things to be considered anymore. The point of no return may be a distant blur but at least you’re now officially an alcoholic boy scout.

Publicerad: 2023-03-08

Ansvarig utgivare: Benjamin Javitz
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