... the road to July!

12 May, 2007

'RUSS on loose - Merriest graduates in the world'

* Pronounced as "roose"

Call them RUSS*, Red RUSS, Partying RUSS, Shouting RUSS, crazy RUSS - it all just means the same thing.

Norwegian education System

The Norwegian Education system fundamentally has three levels, 10 years of school, then 3 years of Intermediate High School (termed as college here) and then 3 more years of College (termed as High School here). Generally kids start schooling at the age of 5-6, therefore, Intermediate graduates are of the age around 18-19 years.

Norwegian Intermediate High School Kids have a tradition of incredibly crazy Partying during their final year completion. 30th of April is declared to be the night this tradition starts to last till 17 of May (Also the Norwegian Constitution Day). Read below for the personal experiences.


Its was Friday evening, me & Pramod started to move to my place, there was something unusual everywhere, most of the youngsters were wearing the similar jumpsuits (almost all red in color with typical drawings made on them), assembled at several spots in the groups. However with questions in mind we boarded the bus but to our surprise even here it was only we both guys, the rest whole bus was crowded with crazy naughty girls, shouting, laughing, dancing, many half naked with several such activities. I was even kind of little scared inside. We weren't able to unearth the mystery behind such a happening around. Encountered few places where such youngsters in the group of 100s with loud music, dirty dancing, drinking and of course all sorts of nasty enjoyment activities. Wow! but we had no clue what's happening in the city.

That night the open Bar down the Pramod's apartment, again enjoyed several guys and girls, drinking hard, for the enjoyment. We were like mesmerized with the kind of party we had seen. It was not something usual that you encounter on several occasions, it was definitely for something unusual, the unusual way. These people enjoyed till late night, at about 3 a.m. they all started to leave for their places, all over drunk, hardly any one in their control, falling down here and there, yet shouting. It was difficult to make out if the girls were being enjoyed by the guys or the guys being enjoyed by girls around, If I say honestly, yes there was a bit obscenity in the air. But then little did we know, its just the culture here, thus, its perfectly fine.

Carried forward these talks to the park we went to spend the next day in a hope to see the labour's day parade. Again these youngsters dominated the crowd but an interesting observation was that several small small kids were coming to them asking for something, these graduates took something like a card out of their pockets and handed to every kid who asked for it. Another mystery was building up for us again.

Further carried these talks to the office on Monday, when we found the stunning culture followed by these Intermediate School graduates in Norway. I never heard of any party for any damn reason which would last for 17 odd days & 17 nights continuously to celebrate the completion of their school education, and what makes this even interesting should follow below in this blog.

Who RUSS???

Graduating students in Norway, clad in red or blue overalls depending on their line of study, tend to spend this time in a non-stop debauch that sparks debate virtually every year. It is so crazy that whole nation is engulfed with their colors, shouting, activities all around, newspapers have them on front covers, roads & buses are almost hijacked by them.

These students declare themselves as ‘RUSS’. Typically they dress themselves in white T-shirts & red jumpsuits. Jumpsuit's color varies from red, green, blue to black depending on their subject of study.

These jumpsuits have their names written on them with lots of drawing done, they wear caps and a token (like a feather in the cap) is added to their cap for every daring activity they perform. These daring activities will almost embarrass anyone except RUSS, which may include running naked across a bridge during chilly evenings, excessive drinking, stripping and dancing around etc. Typically a cork is added to the cap if they finish a full bottle of strong alcohol within 8 hours.

Students buy old buses, color them, customize them to bring people aware that now the high school Kids are on Loose!. And this bus is driven all around the city and even around the country till 17th of May.

They are the masters during their graduation year, its just upto them as to how to decide how do they want to shout. Everything about them here is so fascinating that it was hard to stop discussions for about several days in the office canteen, while every one will find some pride in explaining about how did they enjoy when they were a RUSS. And yes everyone tries to be as modest as possible until you drill down deeper and deeper to find out the nasty person hidden behind in them.

They also have a culture of distributing the RUSS Card, very much like a business card, where in they distribute out of pride for nearing to complete their school education.

But today RUSS tradition has become really out of control, which reminds me of the Ragging scene in India. There are several concerns for not only for the law and order in the country but also for the students becoming RUSS as well.

What RUSS!!!

Injuries, drugs, drinking, deaths & dangerously daring activities are now an integrated part of RUSS today. Education authorities at schools are trying all their stints to bring these kids in control but all in vain. The local RUSS are now considered a security risk, and not just for the royals.

"The RUSS behavior was so bad last year that it is indefensible to let them take part in the children's parade. Drunkenness, litter and generally bad behavior was the reason for the decision," said Asker and Baerum district police captain Kjell Nesheim.

Oh RUSS...

It's always been somewhat costly be be a "RUSS". Students feel compelled to buy red or blue overalls, caps and other paraphernalia, there are lots of entry fees to various parties, and then there's all the beer and other intoxicants that need to be purchased for weeks of heavy partying.

Nothing costs as much as the bus or other vehicle that some students insist on having. It's largely a phenomenon confined to southeastern Norway, particularly the Oslo area, but spending on a traditional "RUSS bus" seems to be breaking all records this year.

One group of graduating students from Eikeli admitted they'd invested NOK 1.6 million in their "RUSS bus." That covered the bus itself, an "awesome" sound system and interior embellishments aimed at letting the good times roll. The 28 boys behind the bus claim they've worked hard and saved for the past three years to finance their "RUSS" season of partying. Even when the cost is divided by 28, it's a lot of money, at nearly NOK 60,000, or USD 10,000 per person.

The committee overseeing this year's "RUSS" activities estimates there are 115 "RUSS busses" in the Oslo area. That compares to only around 15 in the rest of the country, and an unknown number of smaller vehicles, painted red or blue.

Mie Skard, RUSS president for Oslo and Akershus county, said that girls from seven other buses have reportedly agreed to take part in a porn film in order to help pay for their mobile party bus. The 26 girls from two Oslo schools had agreed to be extras in a porn film that would feature scenes shot in their bus, and would also talk on screen about their sex habits and fantasies.

Hehe RUSS (ing)

These guy still have not completed their education, their final year examinations are yet to be conducted around end of May. I seriously doubt if with this kina party, many of the RUSS are able to find a place in the passing list of the exam. But then it really doesn't bother them, it has not bothered them for last several decades, hence it definitely makes it a unique culture in Norway.

Very much like ragging in India, it’s just not possible to tame some student traditions at all.

According to UN survey, Norway is the best country to live in the world, the RUSS culture survey makes them the merriest high school students in the world. The tradition has so much influenced the other world countries that a Hollywood director is all set to make a movie on RUSS culture now. No doubt this culture has its own taste, I find lucky enough to encounter such a phenomena so closely.


Harsh said...

Hi Piyush,

Thanks a lot for this informative piece of article. I liked your view of comparing this culture with ragging in India. I do agree that it ios somewhat similar to ragging particularly the fact that it is also a tradition very much like ragging.

Harsh Agarwal
Coalition to Uproot ragging from Education (CURE) www.noraging.com

Calleth said...


Thanks for the comment :) And it's true that my writing composition was rather non-existent, thanks for the suggestion. What kind of work are you doing in Norway? And what did you think about the rest of the 17th of May celebration, except from the russ?