To most people this is probably a strange scene and it certainly turned a few heads through campus on Friday. I’ve seen these kind of thing in TV shows but never in real life – I didn’t think people actually did this. Yet, it is these slightly weird and wonderful scenes that have now become an unsurprising and almost expected part of my year abroad experience and my time here at Otago.
The challenge: keep your hand on the van the longest.
The rules: one hand on the van at all times, no sitting down, no food but water is allowed, 2 toilet breaks (meticulously timed at 10 mins). And also complete any challenge Hugh the OUSA president makes up on the day.
The prize: the van (a.k.a. The Silver Bullet)
As I wrote this they had been running on the spot and doing high knees whilst keeping their hands on the van for at least five minutes. Hugh tempted them to let go with free pizzas and supermarket vouchers (a valuable commodity). Health and safety of course is important, especially on hot days so suncream was handed round periodically. It was a competition of who could be the most stubborn – and stand up for the longest! You don’t just win a van here, you get to keep your pride. Although having a car as a student here is not as uncommon as in Durham people still love you for it. Watching from my sunny lunch spot on the balcony above really opened my eyes to how much of a spectator sport it actually is!
Unfortunately I couldn’t spend my whole day watching people stand by a van but I am told that after 14 hours a winner was crowned. Apparently they had to resort to a general knowledge quiz to knock out the last few ‘competitors’.
The ‘Great Silver Bullet Giveaway’ was run by the Otago Universities Students Association (OUSA) which is like the equivalent of the DSU. They help to run most of the student societies, provide a space for delicious $3 lunches (more on that in the future), have a sauna and in general make campus a fun place to be by organising events like this one throughout semester. Everyone here works hard on their studies, especially as we near the end of the academic year. But at the same time, so many people came out to enjoy the sun, have a study break and a laugh watching the competition even though exams are just over 3 weeks away.
There always seems to be something happening on campus here and I’m loving getting involved in anything I can. Since I got here in July, we’ve had student art exhibitions, rummage sales, photography competition displays and market stalls in the courtyard. During the recent NZ general election the central university Link was even used as a polling station. The liveliness and buzz about campus makes it a lovely place to study.