The Nations of Uppsala are a unique feature of this university city. The grouping of students by geographical origin was a usual practise in continental Europe in the 15th and 16th century that the students in Uppsala adapted.
Nations were a place to meet other students from the same region of Sweden as well as to celebrate occasions that were typical to their area. At the founding year of the university in 1477, the time to travel from remote parts of Sweden to Uppsala took several weeks. The Nations were and definitely still are a place to call your second home.
Some Nations even started to organize seminars for their members. However, this lead to the Nations being closed down due to the university having the monopoly on seminars and lectures. Nations continued existing as underground organizations, which made the university rethink it’s decision some years later. Nations were not only legalized again, it was now a prerequisite for students to be a member. Every nation received a so called Inspektor who would overlook the nation and make sure that there were no illegal activities planned. To this day, a university professor is appointed to every Nation to take the role of Inspektor.
Gästrike and Hälsinge started off as two separate Nations, corresponding to the regions of Gästrikland and Hälsingland just north of the region Upplands where Uppsala is located. The oldest texts that can be found about these Nations date all the way back to 1646. It was in 1811 when the two small Nations decided to join together to build the GH as we know it today.
Most of it’s existence, GH nation was, as other nations, mostly loosely structured without clear leadership or a nation owned house. Most often students would even meet at the Inspektor’s house. In the 19th century, the nation received funds from it’s home regions to build a respectable nation house. The first plan of the house was never used by GH because unbearable costs. It was however used by our neighbor Nation, Östgöta. In the year 1880, construction finished and Gästrike and Hälsinge Nation finally could call a place it’s home. The house of GH would be referred to as the region’s “Homestead embassy at the academy”.
The Nation house was finally becoming the students’ second home that everyone was longing for. There suddenly was room for festivities, offices for the curators and a library. One could take it easy and play board games and have a beer just as we do nowadays.
Groups that live on to this day formed at GH. A theater group, better known as “spex”, a wine and beer tasting organization, as well as an active sports group. The Nation’s newspaper Ghasetten, was founded in 1962 and still informs about past and upcoming events several times during the semester.
A number of generous donors built up a selection of scholarships which are still distributed every semester, even to international students.
In the 20th century, big changes in society lead to changes in the nation as well. The biggest one being that women could finally study at the university and therefore become members at GH.
Nowadays, everybody is welcome at GH! We are one of the “small nations” with relatively few members. Our share of international students however, is one of the highest one of all the Nations. This makes it easier to meet new friends, just as our motto suggests:
GH – good food, good drinks, good friends