Thursday, May 1, 2008

First of May



May Day! First of May is a national holiday in Norway, a celebration of labor with roots in pagan traditions, the unofficial first day of summer. We headed down to the festning (fortress) to meet our friend Mat for a cookout. Our neighbor Stine warned us that the festning might be trashed, as April 30th is a major party day for NTNU students.

Last week, the International School did a school-wide cleanup of the festning ground. Located right next to the school, the kids were tired of the litter on the grounds and decided to pick up all the trash. They did a great job... and then two days later there was big party and the grounds were trashed. How trashed? Check out Monday's front page:



A parent of a child at the school called the newspaper in disgust. The newspaper called the univeristy. The university organized a cleanup, and by Monday the grounds were clear again. But today, heading to the festning grounds the day after the biggest party of the year, we were afraid we'd be greeted by a site similar to the picture in the Monday's paper. When we arrived, though, the grounds were pristine. Did the students clean up after themselves? Did a group arrive early today and pick up? I don't know what happened, but maybe the actions of the kids at ThIS had a community-wide effect. Nice.



We played frisbee, hacky-sack, and freeze tag. The kids tried riding Mat's bike, and we cooked scallops, shrimp and salmon. Mmmmm...





Afterwards, we walked over to Mat's apartment and played cards while the kids watched movies. Mat lives in a third floor apartment over a restaurant. Check out the view from his apartment over the rooftops of Trondheim. I half expect to see to Dick Van Dyke dancing acroos the skyline with chimney broom in hand!



Heading back to the car, we ran into a student who is soon graduating from high school and enjoying his wild week. We saw many of these students tonight and I was eager for a picture, so I asked him and he was happy to allow it. In Norway, students during their final week before graduation run wild, engaging in all kinds of silly behavior usually involving lots of alcohol and pranks. They wear some kind of costume; in Trondheim the costume is a white lab coat decorated with school and club logos. The color of the pants indicates what academic focus the student belongs to. When wearing this costume, everyone turns a blind eye to their stunts and misdeeds. They can drink all night, swim in fountains, climb buildings, whatever they want. It's so fun in fact that once is not good enough for some students: during this week, some former graduates don their old costumes and run wild for a second or third year, enjoying their expired "get out of jail free" ticket! A strange custom.


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