When my friend Jonny asked me to meet him at a studentmottagning in Stockholm, I was a bit lost. A student reception? Did they possibly mean student party? Then I learned about the special way of celebrating “school’s out forever” in Sweden – young people inviting friends and families to their home, offering food and drinks and hearing lots of nice things said about them and, of course, getting presents.
All this happens when the teenagers have finished the pre-university school, which is called a gymnasium in Sweden. Most of the students wear a traditional student cap, which is usually white with a black peak. For me it was an honour to take part. I enjoyed a warm welcome and the real Servas feeling of being close, being part of it all. And when the next day I saw lots of trucks playing loud rock music, and shouting and singing from young people dressed up in funny clothes, I already knew it was the continuation of what had begun the day before…
But even more was waiting for me. After going to a Swedish amateur theatre production one evening, we went to the country to celebrate the 90th birthday of Jonny’s father-in-law, Esbjörn. And where else could that be than outside – in front of one of those unbelievably beautiful Swedish homes… This is how close you can get with Servas. I’d never want to miss it!
Wearing a traditional student’s cap, Swedish teenager Gulliver Sommarbris celebrates leaving gymnasium, Sweden’s pre-university school with German Servas traveller Wolfgang Stapelfeldt and members of Gulliver’s family, his girlfriend Hanna Båth Sågänger and other friends. Photo: Jonny Sågänger