Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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“Don’t lose your cup. It’s your baby, your life.”


All of us international students bought blue overalls since it’s tradition at Swedish universities to wear overalls. The first time you are supposed to wear your overalls is at what they call your Overall Premiere. I talked to my Swedish friend about his Premiere and he muttered something about wine and buckets and not remembering anything so I was pretty excited for this day.

We bike into the forest to get to these soccer fields around 5pm and I am less than thrilled to be there because it looked like it was going to rain and it took forever to sort us all into teams. They did a very nice job of separating everyone as I did not know one or recognize one person on my team of about twelve. So you get a leader that is an ESN person and they carry around these cups and a bucket of wine. After everyone was assigned a team and we all said where we were from and what our name is they usher us all onto the field and yell at us to get on the ground and do pushups. I’m not sure what kind of qualifications you need to have to be an ESN leader but I think it includes child care training, being CPR/first aid certified, having a background in therapy and experience as an army officer.

So after we are done with our push ups we are instructed to act like a seal and then to roll to our left and to our right. We get a cup of wine after each “warm up”. By the time the games begin we are all feeling pretty good. Everyone keeps complaining about how there won’t be enough wine and I just want to be like JUST YOU WAIT. I swear, the name of these games is to stay alive. Of course we have a photographer in the group who insists on taking pictures of everything and everyone.

There’s this muddy center of the field where guys think its really funny to pick up people and carry them over to dip/roll them in this mud and I am sorry to say that about twenty minutes after we started drinking I was one of the victims. So before we even start these games I am covered in mud. We drink more wine and our ESN leader starts yelling at the top of his lungs this Swedish war song and we all try and repeat what he says but I’m not sure every word was pronounced correctly and we had no idea what we were saying. So we all have our arms around each other and start singing that song from the Titans that’s like “People wanna knowwww, whooo we areee, soo we tell them, we are group sevennn,” a much easier tune.

The first game starts and we have to stand in this line and spread our legs so that the person in the front can crawl through all of us. When it’s your turn, you chug your cup of wine, throw it down and scramble through everyone’s legs until the last person goes through. Your team wins if your last person goes through before the other team’s. We lost.

The second game starts and we each have to chug a cup of wine, run over to this bat, spin around with our head to the bat about ten times, and run back. People from both teams were running every direction and into each other and into the ground. We lost.

We take a quick drinking/chanting break before going over to the next game. For this game We all have to lay down on the ground and the first person in the line has to stand up, chug their wine and roll over everyone’s bodies to get to the end. I think we win this one.

For the next game we are told to put these tights over our face and there’s this tennis ball at the end in the foot so you have to swing the tennis ball with only your face and neck into this full bottle of water to knock it over. You drink before and after this one. I have no idea which team won.

I see a couple of my friends on other teams and we run over to each other and hug and are so out of breath from running and laughing that we can’t even speak. Pretty soon everyone is really drunk and really excited about finding their friends so that they can carry them over the mud. It’s like everyone is five years old again except they’re wasted. I was carried/dragged a total of four times and was covered in mud from head to toe. The ESN people are trying to make sure nobody is dying while trying to comfort the people who got knocked too hard in the head. You can barely recognize anyone. The games are supposed to go till 9pm but we only made it till like 8.

Half of my friends are blacked out and can barely stand and we are all taking pictures and throwing mud. There’s maybe 250 people and they are all getting tackled left and right and sliding around and stealing wine. I have never had so many bruises in my life. Now I understand why laundry is free here – my overalls had to go through the wash several times to return to their original color.

Only in Sweden. Only me

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