22 January, 2010

Student unions and frostbite

While I was waiting for the Barefoot Contessa brownie pudding recipe to bake (it turned out delicious, though a little underdone in our stupid oven) I was catching up on a few things that have escaped me this week while writing my exam. Like my email, my to-do list, the news (though don't get me started on US news. Really, Massachusetts? The "This is my truck" guy?)

And bills. I just got a new one for my mandatory student union fees for this semester. In Sweden, everyone must join (and pay for) their respective student union (I know, you probably didn't need me to spell out what 'mandatory' means. It was for emphasis.) The first time around, it was about 450:-something, so just over $60. This semester, its slightly cheaper at 330:-. I go to a state school, so its a little higher than Stu's mandatory fees because SSE gets an insane amount of private support from all the savvy businessmen/women it churns out.

They recently decided that starting next year, student unions would not be mandatory. But you still need to join to get that card to get the student rate for the tunnelbana/subway card. They say the fees go to support student interests and to give us discounts on things like travel, campus eating and shopping. At my school, they hold weekly pubs with super cheap beer, but really, Stu & I feel a little too old to hang out with 19-year-olds chugging 20:- Carlsbergs and playing loud crappy dance music until 2am.

While I was contemplating paying my own student fees, I read about this girl, who is apparently really into her student union. So much so that she was doing cartwheels in the snow to celebrate it. In her underwear. And got frostbite. I don't think I have to spell this part out, but here goes anyway: Sweden is cold in January, and if you don't wear clothes when outside, bad things happen. Ok, so maybe you'd cartwheel in the snow if you won the lottery, or just found a bucketful of kittens (Stu suggested that last one.) But never in your underwear on a -13c day, and especially not over your student union. And come on, if its compulsory, its automatically not cool! It is interesting to note that Swedish teenagers do stupid things, too.

Anyway, I will pay my student union dues. And I'll probably pay it next year. While having full function and color in all fingers and toes. But I won't be doing cartwheels over joining anytime soon. I don't even know how to do a cartwheel...

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