Second only to choosing an education, choosing which nation to join is often said to be the most important choice for a freshman. But does it really matter which nation you join? We asked four ordinary students for their opinion.
Why join a nation?
Miranda: They are good for meeting people you don’t meet while studying.
Malin: The nations are especially important for people who take courses that don’t have their own activities for freshmen.
Max: Try to become an active member. You can work for a nation one time just to see what it’s like; there is no obligation to work for them again.
Miranda: There are a lot of different options if you want to get involved, lunch, club, pub, brunch…
How does one choose which nation to join?
Malin: Ask people who have been members for a while!
Tomas: Or go to the Hälsningsgille.
Malin: They are quite hectic though. I for one found having a quiet conversation to be very difficult and didn’t get the information I needed regarding the different nations. I didn’t get much out of the Hälsningsgille except free pens.
Tomas: Their websites are very informative. Check them to see what the nations have done in the past.
Max: Truth is it doesn’t really matter which nation you’re a member of. You can get into all of them anyway.
Malin: It’s usually an important topic though; people always ask what nation you belong to.
Max: I’d say it’s a popular icebreaker. Talking about the nations is an easy way to start a conversation with someone new in Lund because it’s something we all have in common.
Tomas: You should definitely think through your choice, even though you can get into all of the nations no matter which one you pick. The money you pay for your membership goes to certain things that the nation supports.
Max: One way to choose is to go by housing options. For instance, my aunt lived at Lunds. I went there myself and asked and two weeks later I had a place to stay there.
Miranda: You often forget how easy it is to get an apartment at a nation. However, they do prefer you to be an active member.
Tomas: If you want to get ahead of the housing queue, you should become an active member. Being a foreman will help you the most. It’s like a reward for helping out.
Is there any difference between the nations?
Miranda: There are quite a few nations that I don’t know anything about, Hallands for example.
Malin: And I don’t know anything about Blekingska.
Max: Malmö, Lunds and Gothenburg have all been labeled as places for wealthy spoiled kids, probably because a lot of their members study Economics.
Tomas: And Smålands is associated with left-wing politics.
Malin: Yea, Smålands has got a negative ring to it because of all the demonstrations. But I think it’s a good thing that it stands out.
Max: Apart from that, a lot of the nations are very mainstream. Smålands and Malmö are the ones that stand out the most. The city nations are often mentioned as one, but it’s a known fact that Lunds, Malmö and Gothenburg like competing against each other. We share a courtyard and when one of the nations is having a party you can be sure that one of the others will complain about something, like the music being too loud. Also, we have labeled each other. People from Lunds like saying that Malmö and Gothenburg are for spoiled little rich kids.
Miranda: Lunds is usually seen as the ”easiest” nation to join, because it’s the biggest one.
Malin: I joined a small nation though, in order to support it.
What about the music?
Malin: I think there’s a lack of variation. A lot of them have the same type of music.
Tomas: Pretty much all of them have the same kind of music, except for Smålands and Blekingska.
Miranda: And Sydskånska!
Tomas: But Sydskånska is kind of all over the place when it comes to music. It would be difficult to assign a specific genre to each nation. Most of them have four or five club events with different types of music.
Max: If you don’t intend to become an active member it doesn’t matter what kind of music they play at your nation, since you will be able to get into all of the other ones as well.
Tomas: Another advantage for those who work at a nation is that they get into the clubs at a reduced price.
Miranda: Smålands has club events that people talk about outside the university. People came to Lund from Malmö to go to Discobedience, I don’t think that’s very common.
Malin: The best way to find out what a nation is like is to go there on a club night.
Tomas: The good thing about Smålands, though, is that it’s not just about the partying.
Max: I think that goes for all the nations. But it’s the club events that people talk about.
Are nations for everyone?
Tomas: Smålands is.
Malin: I’ve never heard of anyone who hasn’t felt welcome. Oftentimes it’s the other way around; once you start getting involved you’re pulled in.
Miranda: Once I had worked a couple of times, all of a sudden I was nominated for a bunch of positions and received emails about jobs.
Tomas: The work is usually very easy at a nation, anyone can do it. Attend the cloakroom, work in the bar and things like that.
Malin: But it can be very strenuous. It’s almost a little surprising how many choose to work for free for eight hours with hardly any breaks only to get some food as compensation.
Max: It becomes sort of a circle: you work, get to know people, and then you work some more and get to know more people.
Miranda: But they should be more clear about the fact that starting something new is very easy.
Malin: And then there’s the hierarchy, starting at the bottom can be difficult. You get the feeling that the kuratel are the ones in charge.
Tomas: For me it wasn’t very difficult, I just said I wanted to start a new club event and got permission to do so. They usually like it if someone wants to do something.
What if you choose not to join?
Malin: I think you would have trouble getting into the student community.
Tomas: I would venture so far as to say that you would become socially handicapped. You would hardly be able to go anywhere in the evenings.
Miranda: The nations are like a bubble though. I remember the first time I went to a sitting, they gave you a songbook and it was all very student-like. I think a lot of students do this once and decide it’s not for them.
Text: Ida Ölmedal och Stina Linde
Photo: Henrik Larsson
Translation: Karin Briheim
First published in Lundagård nr 6/2010.