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Sport enthusiasts, board game warriors and diligent students all come together when Nordisk Kollegium serves up food at the old traditional dormitory
At the corner of Classensgade and Strandboulevarden on a Parisian-looking avenue with a plane of trees down the center of the street lies my favorite spot in all of Copenhagen: Nordisk Kollegium.
Nordisk Kollegium is the student housing of 130 residents from different universities in the Copenhagen area: University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School, DTU, RUC and more. Common for all of us is that we call ourselves alumni of Nordisk Kollegium – and I should add; that we like to see ourselves as an exceptionally gifted and good-looking crowd.
Contrary to the quiet streets of Østerbro, NOKO (as it is usually referred to among its alumni) is characterized by a vibrant student life. When the city lies dormant and deserted outside our windows, the hallways, kitchens, and common rooms of the dormitory are always alive with people laughing, studying, relaxing or in the middle of an intense board game match.
I may as well begin by answering one of the most common questions I get when telling people ‘on the outside’ that I live at Nordisk Kollegium: “Is it true that the meals are prepared for you?”
And yes, it is true. Two times a day food is served in the dining hall, which – almost symbolically, connects the north and south wing of the dormitory. The dining hall serves as a meeting place for all 130 students, when they come to enjoy their breakfast or dinner.
Eating breakfast together is a perfect opportunity for morning chitchat. And sharing a pot of coffee or doing the quiz on the back of the newspaper is a great way of getting to know your neighbors a little bit better.
At dinnertime we usually sit with our closest neighbors: the people from our hallway. Each hallway houses between 4 and 15 people who share a kitchen.
The fact that the meals are served at certain times and shared in the dining hall creates a structure and an atmosphere comparable to a Danish ‘højskole’ or perhaps similar to boarding schools. In my opinion, it is a big part of what makes NOKO special – it makes it exceptionally easy to meet others, which contributes greatly to the social life.
It also makes it temptingly easy to never actually leave the dormitory. Besides the dining hall, the facilities at NOKO also include a fitness room, a laundry room, a hearth room, a billiards room, a library, and a courtyard – practically everything a student would need.
Nordisk Kollegium is home to many different types of people. One type who seems relatively well-represented here is the sports enthusiast: the type who can be seen everyday walking eagerly across the courtyard to the fitness room in their sportswear, or representing NOKO in a game of soccer against another team in the ‘dormitory-league’.
Another type is the board game player. He or she will use every occasion to suggest a game of Settlers and can on Sundays be found practically locked in the library fighting for dominion over fictional kingdoms in a up to 7-hour long game of the Game of Thrones-board game (yes, that is a true and reoccurring situation).
Of course Nordisk Kollegium is also the home of a whole lot of serious, hardworking students who spend their days diligently studying, and who may be found in the dining hall, which turns into a study hall between the meals.
Another thing we have in common at NOKO is that we appreciate a good party. When it is not exam periods (and even sometimes when it is), the alumni at NOKO love to party.
Dating back to 1942, the dormitory has many party traditions, both old and new, that the current alumni strive to keep alive. Some of the bigger, more formal parties include the gala in the fall and the spring ball. Another festive tradition is the yearly trip on ‘Store Bededag’ to Kastellet with our neighbors and ‘frenemies’ from G. A. Hagemanns Kollegium.
The rivalry (which doesn’t seem to be based upon anything real) is taken to the most straightforward of fights on this occasion: a tug-of-war. We later join in a party for both dormitories, which usually results in various pranks and thefts – though always in a friendly spirit.
Smaller events will often do for creating a festive mood at Nordisk Kollegium as well: a study session doesn’t have to be boring when you live at NOKO, a slow Saturday can easily be turned into a party, and a hallway kitchen can be transformed into a sweaty dance floor in seconds.
I honestly miss NOKO when I’ve been away even just for a few days. I miss my room with the high ceilings, the French balcony, and the muffled noises from my next-door neighbors, or the people passing by in the hallway. And I miss my daily routines, with breakfast and newspaper-quizzes, board games, beers, and collective study sessions.
Most importantly though, I miss the people I live with, who somehow manage to turn even the busiest, most boring days into a party at Nordisk Kollegium. And now that I’ve gotten into this party, I don’t plan on leaving it any time soon.
So if I were you, I’d hurry up and write an application and try to get a ticket into this party that is ‘kollegie-livet’.
Check out the gallery below this article. Photos by Ane Terp Rasmussen.
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