School’s out for Summer

studenterkoersel in action

Finish high school and drive around for a whole day getting totally s*itfaced with your classmates, yeay!


Last Friday was the last day of the school year here in Denmark. Thanks to the weird Danish holiday system whereby you accrue holiday days January to December but can’t use them until the following May (bamboozling to say the least) we don’t have a whole lot of time off over summer (well Steve doesn’t, and I need to work too…). It’s common practice for most people to take 2-3 weeks off in July (some offices even insist you take the main chunk of your holiday leave this month) and in addition a lot of Danes have summer houses and spend their weekends there. 

One Danish tradition we happened upon in tandem with the end of the school year, was the studenterkørsel – otherwise known as a piss-up on wheels. Allow me to explain! For the past few weeks I had been seeing young people around the city sporting what looked a bit like white peaked sailor’s hats. Curious. Online research revealed that these ‘studenterhuer’ or graduation caps are worn by the graduating classes of high school students. All very cute, with their names embroidered on the backs, messages from classmates inscribed inside, and, apparently a whole coded system of cuts to the lining or peak, to indicate the achievement of dares, challenges, or milestones such as sea skinny-dipping or drinking a certain number of beers at one session.

Then, last Friday, I saw (or rather, heard, to begin with) my first studenterkørsel. These are usually open-sided flat-bed trucks, hired by each class, and decorated by the students (all wearing their hats of course). With sound-systems blaring away, and with the occupants blowing whistles, waving, and cheering as they are driven around the city all day, you can’t really miss them during graduation week. Each truck sets off mid-morning, and is then driven around the city to visit each class-member’s house in turn for food – and beers of course! (I’m assuming the driver is hired for the day and is not on the beer…) Given that most of the students live relatively near to one another/their school, it’s not uncommon to see the same truck going around the same few blocks several times, with the occupants getting progressively more drunk and louder each lap! Makes my end of A-Levels antics look very tame in comparison…


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