Protecting floats leads to annual team bonding



Between midterm madness, the sudden cool weather and feeling antsy for fall break, the arrival of Viking Days seems like the silver lining amid the fall colors.

There is something magical about Viking Days. A majority of the school and staff come together in an effort to spread school spirit. I have to admit though I am not the most involved in Viking Days or Augustana in general, I still have a special place in my heart for this week of celebration.

For the last three years, I have been on the Augustana rugby team. In an effort to fundraise and team bond, we always volunteer to guard the floats that reside under the big white tent that sticks out like a sore thumb every year around this time. We bundle up in long johns, sweatpants (a few people bust out their snowpants), three different long sleeved shirts, winter coats, fur vests, scarves and mittens.

After we have bundled up to the point of barely being able to move, we grab any homework, blankets, pillows and magazines we can find, and we head to the tent.

It is a long night filled with the hard work of protecting the floats that so many Augustana students and staff members have worked on. We usually split the night into two shifts, but there are many brave ruggers that tough it out until the sun rises.

This is an event not many would associate with Viking Days, but it has always been my favorite. A bunch of teammates bundled up and sipping lattes with too many shots get to know each other on a personal level while making sure USF doesn’t try to rain on our parade.

That is what Viking Days is all about: camaraderie, bonding and having a good time. Even if the weather is less than desirable, don’t forget to find your school spirit. Whether it is just sporting blue and gold, attending Saturday’s football game or joining in on the other festive events, find a part of Viking Days that calls to you. After all, it is always a great day to be a Viking.

Olivia Sundeen is a senior journalism and communications major from Watford City, N.D.

Spirit of Viking Days trumps individual events



As someone from a family of six people all over six feet tall, every party is a big party. When it’s the time to celebrate at our northern Minnesota home—be it a birthday, holiday or vacation—I always look forward to our familiar traditions of non-stop seasonal music, massive feasting with friends and relatives and high-spirited group activities (usually involving gifts). I guess we’re sort of “celebration Vikings.”

This longstanding love for festivities really bursts out during events like Viking Days. When the long-awaited homecoming week arrives, I can hardly contain my happiness.

Overnight, the appearance of Augustana transforms. The campus is layered in sheets of navy and gold, making every commonplace pillar of the Commons shine. A scent of those crazy balloon structures lingers in the air. Triangular buttons stud backpacks, hats and lanyards. Retro crewnecks bring the “A” back to academic halls.

A broad variety of Viking-themed parties lasts all week long. From early morning parades to late night Back Alley dances—and bonfires, circuses and illusionists in between—a diverse group of events allows for all students to find and enjoy their own Viking Days spirits.

And so my favorite part of Viking Days is not one singular event, but the collective fun, energy and honor of the week itself: the presence of the celebration. Viking Days does more than just welcome back alumni and fond memories.It’s also about the feeling of being a part of something great, and taking part in that communal identity with other outstanding individuals.

It’s about the opportunity to share both the contemporary culture and the historic value of our campus with returning alumni. It’s about a chance to celebrate the present milestone of college for students, and recognizing those achievements of learning and growth. It’s about finding a sense of place and home in this community, or returning to remember that discovery.

And if you really get down to the bones of it, Viking Days, like so many other celebrations, is actually about finding that sense of belonging and wonder in this human existence.

Taking in the collective spirit, good feelings, and delights of this week is like sinking into that chair by the Coffea fireplace in winter. It allows us to pause the difficult challenges (midterms anyone?) of becoming in order to reflect on who we are now.

With all of the rush of homework, work and extracurricular activates (and with the compounded weight of these obligations) it can be easy to pass up or delegitimize the fun.

And as the weather grows gloomy and moods grow darker, it can be tempting to reduce the school spirit to a cheap marketing or recruiting ploy. But I think such perspectives shortchange the week. Given the right attitude and the chance to ignite, so much more can be gained than a free cup of goodies and a fireworks show.

The events, the people and the place of Viking Days are all there. Seize the occasion. Be a Viking. Go and celebrate. You may also discover home.

Alexandra Hjerpe is a senior English and journalism major from Hutchinson, Minn.