Exhibition throngs and Kalas delirium
Students dressed to party, LiU employees in blue shirts, roly-poly mascots, people everywhere, and the odd joker with a horn as a hairpiece all mingling around in Saab Arena on 2 September. The buzz is loud and, as usual, it’s full to bursting when the new students are welcomed at the Kalas reception (New Students’ Day).
At the exhibition that started the day off, new and veteran students, associations, student unions, university student support functions and businesses in the region all met – a splendid opportunity to learn most of what’s worth knowing to make student life enjoyable and functional. And to have fun with new student friends, of course.
Julia Alm and Josefin Karlsson have gone through the new student initiation, known as “Nolle-P”, and have got started with the biology studies.
“It’s been full up, but I’m going to miss this,” Ms Karlsson says. “It’s been smashing. Our sponsors really did well!”
“Overwhelming, and a lot of laughs. Not at all like I’d expected. I had a negative image of the student initiation, but that’s really changed. And I didn’t think there’d be so much to do, with studies and the initiation period. Now I’m tired but it’s been so worth it,” Ms Alm says.
Other new students are Jonathan Helin, with courses in English on the schedule, and Martin Pitkänen, Engineering Physics and Electrotechnology.
They show the “goodie bags” they got at the entrance: carrots, a box lunch, bandages, condoms, candy and other useful items.
Other visitors are veterans to the scene. Photographer Göran Billeson has immortalised all eleven Kalas receptions on LiU’s behalf.
“There’s always been good weather and a great mood at Kalas. And loud music. In the orchestra pit, where I usually stand, you can feel the bass vibrate,” he laughs.
The ear plugs that Student Health is passing out could thus come in handy.
“We want people to take care of themselves,” says Lisa Alsén Björneke, counsellor at LiU. “We’ve come to let them know we’re here, and to put a face on who we are in order to lower the threshold for contacting us. It’s also good to meet the student associations and to get to know them. When you get better in student contexts, it’s of help in guiding lost students. And it’s cool to meet the students; it gives us spirit. There’s a party mood in the air.”
Ynn Eamrurksiri from Thailand has come here to study in the Statistics and Data Mining master’s programme. Her strongest impression of her first few weeks is of chilliness.
“Even if it is summer, I think it’s really cold, but it’s so beautiful here with the forest and the parks in Linköping.”
“It’s calm and quiet,” her friend, Lena Sugita thinks.
“I come from a big city – Tokyo – so this is unusual. I love the culture and the landscape. I’ve just started in Business Administration, and this is a good opportunity to talk with different student associations.”
“Yes, and it’s really great to get information here about all the practical matters, like the Campus Bus and Student Health,” Ms Eamrurksiri says.
The Red Army Men’s Chorus is mingling around, on the hunt for new recruits. This is a group of students who love singing in Russian – but without actually knowing Russian. Filip Polbratt, Andreas “Pompom” Rydell, Daniel Häggmyr and Mikael Valter say that taming all the consonants and sounding out all the words according to transcriptions of how it should sound is going really well. The uniforms are a part of the concept.
“You have to live the role, and not take it so seriously. We like joking, as well.”
The Environment and Safety Division at LiU and LiU Service may seem like an unlikely candidate for one of the most-visited tables. But the line in front of it is blocking the flow of people in the exhibition area. Hanna Westman says it’s the ingenious Thermos jugs, which can be used to get your fill of coffee a little more cheaply on campus, that’s drawing them in. The usual bowl of candy has been switched with fruit – which is also appreciated. But the students also have many questions about their campus environment; they are eager to discuss things and have their own ideas about how students and the university can be more environmentally friendly.
This year’s Kalas General, Alexandra Holmström, is standing in the middle of the throng of people and answering a steady stream of questions. There is a great deal to arrange so that an event with around 8,000 visitors flows smoothly. The first call came at seven o’clock this morning, and she’s counting on going until ten o’clock the day after.
“The best job in the world! It’s an awesome experience. The best has been seeing how it became a whole, and how the committee has developed. They’ve grown in their roles and become experts. So very clever! The most difficult has been all the rules, such as procurements, contracts and knowing which way to turn to resolve matters.”
The Kalas organisation has had good help from student functionaries, known as Kalaspuffar (Kalas boosters). Amanda Helstad is doing her share in the work-group and passing out gift bags, as well as standing guard at the entrance.
“It’s been going well; it’s cool to be here mingling with people,” she says with a big smile.
After the throng in the exhibition, many are taking it easy and hanging around in the outdoor space. The late summer evening is pleasantly mild; the scent of barbecue is in the air and student performers are responsible for the entertainment.
Towards nine o’clock, people start pouring into the stage area. Karin Fälth-Magnusson, LiU’s deputy vice-chancellor, welcomes to the students – not only to the university but to Norrköping, Linköping, and the region.
“You’ve made a smart choice in selecting academic studies and Linköping University,” she points out.
Then it’s time for what everyone’s been waiting for: DJ duo Galantis on the stage. A number of latecomers who had been dawdling outside come running in when the music starts pumping, and soon there is a swaying sea of hands in the air in front of the stage.
Footnotes for the uninitiated:
“Nolle-P” is the initiation period, a time for new students, filled with pranks and jokes in order to get to know each other. It’s organised by students who have gotten further in their education.
Student overalls are a common, durable garment used in a number of student parties and events. They are often decorated with various badges. These colours show which programme the student belongs to.
What did you think of Kalas 2015?
An amazing evening? Quite boring? Do you have suggestions on what can be done better? Have your say in this year's survey! We are curious what you thought, so we can continue to make Kalas a fantastic experience.
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Text: Annika Johansson (and the picture of photographer Billeson)
Photo: Göran Billeson
3 September 2015
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Last updated: 2017-02-13