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Review: Regensen's past is a story of love and corpses

Dorms disclosed — The long history of Regensen is an important part of the residents' narrative about themselves; about love, traditions, clubs, and the exclusive Regensen community.

Since 1785, there has been a lime tree in Regensen’s courtyard. According to the history books, it was planted by provost Hviid as a symbol of vitality after he and his wife Maria Sophie Munk had their first child. Now, some 200 years later, both the lime tree and relationships between the dorm residents are flourishing. And the dorm has just received a box of free condoms from the AIDS Fund for all its residents to use.

SEE THE FULL ‘DORMS DISCLOSED’ UNIVERSITY POST SERIES: Reviews by student residents of dorms and residence halls in Copenhagen


Address: St. Kannikestræde
2, 1169 Copenhagen K
Monthly rent: DKK 1662 + DKK 110 for shared expenses.
Average age: 24-25 years old.
Application process: Open for applications twice a year. Your net worth must not be greater than DKK 150,000 and your average grade must be higher than 7 unless you are from the Faroe Islands or Greenland. And you must be studying at the University of Copenhagen or the Technical University of Denmark and have passed 90 ECTS credits.

Miss Lime, the tree with a secret

»In 1985 we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the lime tree, and Queen Margaret attended. And in fact… it’s a bit of a secret but…« says Regensen resident Katrine Bach, putting her hand over her mouth to signal that she is giving too much away, »it was not actually 200 years old at the time.«

The lime tree from 1785 was blown to smithereens many years before the 200th anniversary, when a gas pipeline under the tree exploded. Immediately after the incident, Regensen residents planted a new lime tree so that Miss Lime, as she is known, could continue to adorn the yard. And so that Queen Margaret could visit the famous tree.

The tree is central to Regensen, and every spring, Regensen residents celebrate its new blossoms and the emergence of foliage by mounting an arm and hand around the trunk so that everyone can greet Miss Lime with a handshake.

The first page in Regensen’s yellow songbook, which is brought out at parties, contains a poem written in 2019 by Mikkel Roosevelt Hertz . It pays homage to the living and the dead, the Regensen community, and the lime tree – the tree of love – at the centre of it all. The last lines in the poem are Regensen singing / we can see it on their lips / when they are brought together / as one [our translation, ed.]
Both singalongs and kissing have brought many lips together in the three years Katrine Bach has lived at Regensen, she says. Last weekend, she even attended the christening of the daughter of two former Regensen residents.

Dorms disclosed

There are loads of dormitories, kollegiums, and student residences in Copenhagen, yet most of the information available is in Danish.

Some are small, old houses with pretty gardens, others are giant concrete buildings with tiny windows.

This is a review by a student reporter. But in the Dorms Disclosed series, it is the residents themselves that review the dorms that they live in.

Here is an overview with links to all of the dormitory and student accommodation reviews we have published so far, written by the people who know them the best.

If you want to write an English-language review of your dorm write to with ‘Dorms Disclosed’ in the subject header.

Guided tours for the dead

Katrine Bach is a so-called corpse bearer and therefore has the task of giving guided tours – both for pensioners and the dead. Indeed, in Regensen lingo, you are dead when you move out of the dorm.

Fortunately, despite the lack of a Regensen pedigree or rigor mortis, the University Post was allowed to take look inside the old walls.

The long history behind Regensen is the reason for the quirky titles. Regensen dates back to 1623, and in 1711, the bubonic plague ravaged Denmark, killing Copenhageners like flies. The king at the time, Frederik IV, forced the poor students to help out by carrying corpses away from the streets, although they reportedly paid other people to do the work for them, says Katrine Bach.

»It is a good example of how Regensen has a long history, and how there are also many myths and reinterpretations surrounding that history. We are not sure whether the stories we tell are true,« she says, with a big smile, »but it gives the place a great atmosphere.«

The history of the dorm is the basis for numerous traditions throughout the year, which bring all the Regensen residents together in shared experiences.

image: Rasmus Buhl Kristensen for Uniavisen
image: Rasmus Buhl Kristensen for Uniavisen
image: Rasmus Buhl Kristensen for Uniavisen

A full-time dorm experience

There is a reason why living at Regensen is jokingly referred to as a full-time job or equivalent to 30 ECTS points.

Students who become part of this ancient community are treated to a moving-in party, a lime tree lunch, and then a ball called the Lime Ball, all within their first six months. And the newcomers have to arrange everything and prepare the food. During the next six months, there is another moving-in party, then a revue. At the end of the year, there is a Christmas party and, not least, Symposion – a knowledge festival for the public, which Regensen holds every year or every other year.

On top of all this, all Regensen residents are part of a kitchen group and a club (or maybe even two), which all have their own communal dinners and fun events. In addition to the various communities, there are also positions of responsibility in the form of offices.

»You enter a universe where a lot of things are already established. But it is by no means so set in stone that there is no room for new things. There is a great deal of creativity and innovation. Lots of room to move, and the sky’s the limit. And you are praised for taking the initiative,« says Katrine Bach.

Healthy rivalry

The clubs are friend groups that link the different kitchen groups. Right now there are eight clubs, plus one newly founded. They each have their own secret initiation rites, and all the clubs make an effort to create a rivalry between them. The rivalries tend to take the form of songs or performances where that make fun of the other clubs or parody Regensen life in general. Such performances, known as sjøflinger in Danish, are a regular feature at parties, but can also be encountered on a regular Tuesday. But with 101 Regensen residents, there is good reason to divide into smaller groups. And what makes community thrive more than a bit of healthy rivalry?

The offices divide the areas of responsibility into everything from finances, guided tours, sporting and cultural events to maintenance the building, and so on.

»And there are competitive elections for office,« says Katrine Bach. »People really want to take responsibility.« There are election posters everywhere. These posters sometimes hint at inter-club rivalries and are and all in the genre: I-am-not-a-graphic-designer-but- I-know-how-to-open-Photoshop. In other words, they are both funny and ugly.

Long meetings and a raised terrace

If you want to change the structures at Regensen, the small and large Council meetings are the place to do it. Participants go through a long agenda with orientation points, decision points and grant points. »And those meetings take five hours. At least,« says Katrine Bach. »Last time we started at 7pm and finished at 12:30am.«

Scholarships are also awarded at the meetings and parties – including the Pariah Scholarship, which is awarded to a Regensen resident who has broken one of the traditions. One scholarship recipient, for example, built a raised terrace in Regensen’s courtyard, to get a few extra hours of sunlight in the courtyard, which is very shaded. The terrace is called Romeo’s Balcony.

The large community can sometimes replace life outside Regensen. For example, you can often hear someone saying »I have been in the yard all weekend,« says Katrine Bach and explains that it is because you can do almost everything within Regensen’s walls.

If you also hope to become part of the exclusive community, get typing and start coming up with an application. Regensen opens for applications twice a year, but if you have more than DKK 150,000 left in the bank or in shares, you should hide that away in your mattress, because spots at the dorm are reserved for those who are »worthy and in need«. However, prospective residents will have to study hard too, as it requires an average grade of 7 or more, and you must pass 90 ECTS points (unless you are Faroese or Greenlander) to be considered. You must also be enrolled at the University of Copenhagen or the Technical University of Denmark.

There are currently rooms available at Regensen. The deadline is December 1, 2021. Apply here.

READ ABOUT OTHER RESIDENCE HALLS AND DORMS HERE: Student housing reviews: Dorms and residences in Copenhagen