Experience Uppsala: Festival Volunteer

Consider this is not a show-off between universities in Sweden (and among us, dear Supritha) but an opportunity to see how great your life can be if you are a student at Uppsala University. Since I moved here three months ago, never have I regret the decision of choosing Uppsala University – not even for a day. Uppsala is the fourth largest city in Sweden while the university itself is the oldest among Nordic countries and one of the best universities in the world. Many notable alumnae such as  Even the Crown Princess Victoria studied here. So do the other digital ambassadors. Andaç shared a glimpse of this beautiful city while Marina explained why you should study here and Francesca wrote many interesting blog posts about the city, the university and student’s life. The experience that you can get here will be more than the student life. In order to entice you more, I am going to share you the experience that you will only get in this town:

To be a volunteer in Uppsala Internationella Gitarrfestival and Uppsala Internationalla Kortfilmfestival

During the second week, the university held two receptions for new students. One is for Swedish students and the another one is for international students. The venue was at Uppsala Konsert & Kongress (in short UKK or pronounced u-ko-ko) where they showed the nations, unions and many kinds of organizations and activities that students would be able to join. There, I noticed the 35th edition of Uppsala International Short Film Festival booth and they were looking for volunteers – jag alskar film  mycket. Hence, I signed up to be a volunteer right away (because it would allow me able to watch many short movies for gratis). The first meeting, we watched a short movie and signed up for the role that we want. There, I found out that my corridor mate was a volunteer too. From her, I knew that there was another festival coming up around the corner – Uppsala International Guitar Festival 2016. Being a music geek, I went to sign up for that as well.

Some of my friends questioned my interest in being a festival’s volunteer, you probably have the same question too. Despite the full day class and some journals to read in between, why would I spare my time to be a volunteer at these festivals? Here are why:

Expand your circle

I find it easier to connect with people and make friends when there is ‘a goal’ that we are heading towards to together. Such as getting a fika break together, practicing public speaking, or finding which movie and concert to attend when you are not in charge. Depends on the festival but it might not just students that you will meet. You can meet the other citizen of Uppsala, even people from outside of the city and country since the festivals in here are very attractive – it is the city of culture. Another advantage is to get secondhand items that you’ve been looking for. Such as mine, I was looking for a winter jacket and I got it from a friend I met in Gitarr Festival. It saved me a trip to the store.

Experience a new personal and professional interaction

During a dinner, where they serve shrimps, I ate them along with the shell – it was crunchy, in case you are wondering. Little I knew that it is not the usual way for Swedes to eat shrimp (but it is for Indonesians) so I successfully gained the whole table attention for myself. Thankfully, they are so kind and curious that they try the Indonesian way of eating shrimp. Both cultures gained something at the end, bra.

Though you are a volunteer but you have to be professional, this working culture taught me a lot. There was one man who went after the festival ended, came at my direction while talking to me in Swedish. I said to him (in Swedish) that I could not speak Swedish, so he responded in English. After some questions and answers, he seemed upset knowing that the festival was over then he asked if there was anyone speaking Swedish. I was in the middle of wrapping the reception booth with four other volunteers, one of them is a Swedes. Right away, I appointed her. By the end of the festival, she told us that this man was complaining that no one seemed to speak Swedish whilst they are in Sweden. Her response was very professional, she said that this is an international festival so speaking Swedish is not a requirement. I would not probably be able to give such diplomatic response that is why I salute her.

Free Merchandise

Kevin Gnapoor and I have the same mind. I don’t know about you but t-shirt or jacket merchandise is the thing. This is probably my main driver towards festivals. Perhaps it is the nice feeling of knowing that you are a part of something. Sure, you can always buy the merchandise but when it comes with stories behind it, the value increased exponentially.

The Post Party

Either it is a dinner at the last day of the festival or a different day, post party is the one we have been waiting for. The festival was over, everyone had a blast, the hard work paid off. Now, you finally get the time to have a nice talk with fellow volunteers and organizers, get to know more about your crush or just drink and enjoy the moment. Isn’t that what life is all about?


Written by Sania

19 Nov 2016