Recently Chalmers welcomed a fresh batch of exchange students, for spring 2014. The mix of students was not only from different parts of Europe but from all over the world including China, Hong Kong, Australia, United States and Brazil. Back home, it is not easy to do a semester abroad; the documentation is complex, finance a head-ache and there is not enough collaboration between universities. So, seeing students move so easily across borders for their studies is heartening. Although exchange programmes are a usual “thing” now in this part of the world, but I hope every student understands the core vitality and the unique nature of the opportunity they have. As the event manager of the reception committee, I enjoyed the last couple of weeks making all the new mates feel at home and ensuring that they have a fun-filled start to their life at Chalmers.
Keeping in-line with the traditions, the reception committee (CIRC) organised a series of activities for the new students to help them settle in and get to know Gothenburg. The reception kicked-off with the Welcome day, in which the students toured the Johanneberg campus and got to know the various traditions and interesting facts about their school; the Olga stairs, the train, the climbing arena, the kyrkan, the department logos and many other aspects of Chalmers that are unique to this university, kept the students interested and amused them throughout the tour. The train served as the venue for the party next day, which turned out to be an absolutely amazing mingle event. I shared the same feelings of amazement and joy when I first came to Chalmers and saw that the union not only owns a train carriage but also rents it out for parties! You do not get to see that often in engineering universities around the world.
In an effort to acquaint the students with Chalmers, a tram race was organised as well. Contrary to my expectations, majority of the students turned up for the event despite the chilling weather. Each phadder group took off to grab a few clicks of the famous spots around the city and the group returning earliest was graced with a precious prize, symbolising the ‘sweetness’ of their victory. Another aspect of Chalmers Studentkar that leaves new comers bamboozled is the Harryda Sauna. So to sweep them off their feet, we took the students to the Harryda sauna the same week. To get a feel of Sweden and to warm up, every student had to chop wood for a few minutes before his sauna experience kicked-off. Traditional pea soup and pancakes were served, to add more richness to the trip. The last part of trip, and indeed the most thrilling one was to use the sauna and jump into the frozen lake. I don’t blame them for dropping their jaws when they heard they have to break through the ice and dip in the lake to “cool off”. But kudos to Spring 2014 students, since almost all of them achieved the feat of jumping into the lake at least once. I am sure it was a memorable night for them; I still remember my first sauna experience and it will stay with me for a long time.
I must say that the zeal and enthusiasm of the new students was boundless and very motivating for us as the organisers. The latter half of the reception brought the tastes and cuisines from around the world under one roof with the international dinner. Each student brought a traditional dish from his country and lit the evening up with his contribution to the table. The goal of the event goes beyond the food. Such gatherings initiate discussions about cultures, lifestyles and various customs in different countries, paving way for people to relate to one another and widen their horizon.
Chalmers makes you work really hard to refine your engineering skills; I am sure all the exchange students have truck loads of academic commitments awaiting them and I hope CIRC provided them the perfect platform to launch into action! Needless to mention, everyone should squeeze time out of their schedules, to have some fun and party hard!