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New semester — In the old days, campus was packed with students. They went on intro camps with no hand sanitizer, and they shared beers and other liquids on packed dance floors. Here is everything that you (perhaps) might never get to experience if you start at the University of Copenhagen this year.
For hundreds of years, new students were welcomed by the rector of the University of Copenhagen at the traditional matriculation ceremony. Here the rector greeted the up to 3,000 students packed into Frue Plads for several hours with a handshake — thereby probably also sharing bacteria with the rest of the university. Some of them then left this open space and gathered in a more closed space at an after-party at the Studenterhuset café.
It all sounds absurd these days, and the matriculation ceremony was luckily moved online in 2020.
New students from more than 70 bachelor’s degree programmes used to gather before the start of the semester at an intro event organised by the Student Council. There were speeches, street food, cold draught beer, and lots of get-to-know-each-other activities. As per Danish tradition you might be forced into a circle of complete strangers and asked to chuck a roll of toilet paper into the centre of the circle for each fun fact you revealed about yourself.
Now we all know how quickly there can be a shortage of toilet paper, and the event has, of course, been cancelled.
Maybe you heard someone talking about the intro camps at Danish universities. They used to begin with an hour or two on a hot bus with a bunch of strangers, with the tutors trying to make everyone feel that little bit less of a stranger. Like a kind of speed dating, where you and your different seating partners were told to discuss if you would rather: A) henceforth sweat ketchup, og B) forever sleep with a homeless man as a quilt? Meanwhile, the tutors, dressed in bubble skirts and Hawaiian garlands, would fight to take over the driver’s microphone.
Well, you’re probably not going on any trips for a long while, and dating is something that was a pre-corona thing anyway.
Imagine chugging nine strong beers, half a bottle of bad red wine, and three foul-tasting shots, and then dozing off on a squeaky bunk bed one breath away from a stranger as your sleeping companion. That was what it was like to be at intro camp. You would be woken up (after sleeping for two hours) by the sound of hammered pots and pans, an out-of-tune tuba, and 20 tutors screaming »tequila!«.
Luckily, you can now sleep for a long time, completely on your own, in your own home, without any form of close contact to any other people.
300 students are queuing up to get into in a dark auditorium, where they have to sit, squashed, shoulder to shoulder, for two hours straight. This was a scenario that was played out on a daily basis on campus. But, luckily maybe, you won’t be able to experience that for quite some time. And yes, there was something magical about the big lectures where you could look out over your whole year cohort and feel like you were a part of something big.
But instead you will have to make do with a poor ergonomic seating position propped up on your one-person bed while you attend the lecture via Zoom. Again.
The sound of someone next to you gnawing away on carrots – or whispering to herself in frustration. Look forward to not having to be dragged to this room any time soon. The university’s – and the city of Copenhagen’s – reading rooms have reduced the number of study spaces significantly, and the Royal Library has closed its access to the old reading room in the Black Diamond building.
So unless you get up before sunrise and have the courage to fight for the few study spaces in the different faculties or in the rest of the city, you will have to find a café that doesn’t mind having a stingy student filling up space for hours for the price of one americano.
Read also: The do’s and don’ts of the reading room
In the days of yore, students had worked up a tradition of packing a dreary lunch box every morning while pouring a bowl of cereal into their mouth. Cheese sandwiches could get nice and warm before lunchtime, and the pesto seeped out into your backpack. Now that you have to study from home, it is luckily not so far to the fridge. Who knows? Maybe this is the semester where you finally have the energy to make nutritious and Instagram-friendly cabbage salads for lunch? Otherwise, no one will notice if you just pop down to the local shawarma joint.
You might not have heard the rumours yet, but there were a few parties at the University of Copenhagen where people put on Mexican sombreros and dressed up as cowboys and Indians or stock market traders and homeless people. All this was a major topic of conversation both inside and outside the university, and some people argued that a ban on stereotyping costumes would undermine people’s freedom of expression and freedom of research.
There will be no parties where white majority Danes can appropriate other people’s culture
Luckily you no longer need to cogitate over identity politics or take offence one way or the other, because there will be no parties where white majority Danes can appropriate other people’s culture.
But you can still screw up on social media and get cancelled.
Another unfortunate consequence of the frequent parties was that they used to lead to this terrible phenomenon known as moral hangover. This could typically be seen Monday mornings as students with averted gaze tried to avoid contact with anyone else. The reason could have been that they got themselves a black eye during a beer pong tournament or had been bellowing off key at a karaoke party in front of 114 music science students.
This will not happen to you, because you are not going to a party. And you should never, ever play beer pong again.
There is no way of knowing this. But in the past, there were, actually, tables in all classrooms, also at the Faculty of Humanities. This is probably not something you think about as a new student, even though it may seem strange or downright unpleasant to have to sit with your overheated laptop on your crotch for several hours while trying to learn something. The tables had to go because they were the only thing standing between you and a corona infection.
And you should remember this when your thighs start to burn and your sperm (if you have any) stops moving.