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Advice from an old veteran to the new students

Hello you, the new Haagahelian! Congratulations regarding your new studies and welcome to Haaga-Helia and its student community, Helga.

During the orientation week, you got a lot of information about our school, your degree program, completing your studies, practical arrangements, and the various possibilities of the student life. There was so much information that I wouldn’t be surprised if you had already forgotten half of it. At least that’s what happened to me at the time. However, forgetting is not serious, as there are several people in our community that you can ask for advice if needed. For example, I could mention your own student counsellor, your tutors and, of course, Helga’s board members and experts.

I belong to the last-mentioned members of Helga’s board. I’ve been studying information technologies at Haaga-Helia for the nth year already (let’s not talk about exact number), and I’ve had time to experience all kinds of things. In addition to my board position, I have been involved in many kind of student activities, e.g. as a peer and head tutor, in club activities, in Helga’s representative council for two terms, in the central election board organizing representative council elections and as part of the Kaljaasi team building a large student cruise. Having learned from these experiences, I now want to share thoughts and tips regarding student life.

Support and security from tutors
You hopefully got to know Helga’s tutors (those in the purple shirts) during the orientation week. Outside of orientation week, the tutors rarely wear their tutor shirts, but they are still there to support and protect the freshers. You can approach your tutors with a low threshold, they will either answer your question directly or direct you to the person who can help you in your case.

As an old tutor, I encourage all freshers to rely on their tutors. You should not be afraid that your questions could be stupid or pointless. Questions can and should be asked about everything that causes you to wonder. For example, I myself have answered questions about where to find a space on campus, how to buy event tickets, how to join Helga’s club activities. The list of questions asked is long, and none of them have been in vain.

Tutors are also your security if you encounter difficulties in the early days of your studies. If, for example, you haven’t found friends in your starting group during the orientation week and you feel lonely, you can ask your tutors to organize some events for the group and help more with grouping. I know that I would at least have wanted to know if any of my freshers felt lonely so that I could have helped them.

A few words about the coveralls
During student events, students in their different coveralls brighten up the streets of cities. Wearing coveralls is a tradition that came to Finland from Sweden. Although it’s a tradition, it’s not a mandatory one. If you don’t want to wear coveralls, you have every right to participate in all events without them. And even if you wear coveralls yourself, remember that others still don’t have to wear them. So never pressure others to wear coveralls.

Coveralls serve as a kind of CV of your student life. By going to events, you can get coverall badges to attach to your coveralls. The badges are attached by sewing them yourself, so they are not glued and you shouldn’t ask your mother to sew them for you. It is a matter of honor to sew your own badges on. I recommend investing in high-quality sewing thread. I’ve had to re-sew some of my badges on my own coveralls when the cheap threads have broken, and the badges have started to fray.

When placing the badges, you should think about how much you plan to attend student events. If you rarely go to events, you can place the markers further apart, which will make the coveralls look fuller faster. If, on the other hand, you plan to attend more events, you should place the badges as close to each other as possible from the start. This is because the coveralls fill up surprisingly quickly and if you sew the badges a little bit here and there, there are often awkward gaps between them and it is then more difficult to find a place for bigger badges.

Coveralls and toilet queues. In public restrooms, you often have to wait in line (at least in the women’s restrooms), and student events are no exception. This issue is often exacerbated by the student coveralls. Tying the coveralls takes longer time for some and goes faster for others. If people stay in the toilets while tying their coveralls, others will have to wait in line that much longer. So, consider others and only tie your coveralls outside the toilet. You can leave the booth with a belt holding your coveralls up, and outside you can then freely adjust your coveralls until you are satisfied with them.

Student events bring variety to your everyday life
Student events, the salt of student life. Different events are associated with different traditions, which you learn over time when you go to the events. Each of us has been a fresher at some point and understands that new students may not immediately know all the traditions. So, there is no need to experience stress from not knowing the traditions straight away.

Student culture has been criticized (partly for good reason) for its emphasis on alcohol. Remember, however, that you can always participate in every event without drinking alcohol. And never pressure others to drink alcohol! If you encounter pressure at any event, feel free to contact either the event organizers or the harassment contact persons.

Appros are the most common student event. The idea is to go around pre-defined bars and collect stamps from them when buying a drink. For appro passes, I recommend getting a lanyard to wear around your neck, where you can hold the appro pass during the event. In the past, I have lost numerous appro passes when they have fallen out of my pocket. For the same reason, you should always write your name and phone number on the appro pass, so that the lost appro pass can be returned to you.

Sitz: an academic table party where you eat, drink and sing drinking songs. Sitz also includes various rules, and the leader of the sitz, i.e. the toastmaster, imposes punishments for breaking the rules. You shouldn’t be afraid of rules or punishments. The rules exist to keep the event smooth and comfortable for everyone. The rules are always repeated at the beginning of the event, so you don’t need to know them in advance. The punishments, on the other hand, are playful in nature, and their purpose is not to cause any trauma to the participants. If you receive a punishment that causes you some kind of anxiety, you can ask for the punishment to be changed. I have once asked for the punishment to be changed due to health reasons. The penalty was changed, and the event continued. It is good to be aware of your own limits and you can stick to them even at student events. Sitz also usually have their own dress code that matches the theme of the event, and coveralls are not usually worn. So put on coveralls only if it is specifically mentioned in the dress code.

The annual gala is a dignified academic table party, a more sophisticated version of sitz. However, there are no rules or punishments at annual celebrations. The atmosphere is more restrained, and the program is broader, including, for example, a lot of speeches. Annual galas have their own dress code, usually a dark suit/evening dress. Adhering to the dress code shows respect for the dignified event, so please follow it when attending the event. I recommend you to at least participating in the annual celebration of your subject/local organization at least once, because as an experience it is clearly different from other student events.

Find your community
If going to student events isn’t your thing, it doesn’t matter. Each of us is a unique person, and not all activities work for everyone. So don’t try to forcefully to become a social butterfly and waste your time on something you don’t really like. You still don’t have to stay home alone, because there are many other activities for students in Haaga-Helia. For example, in Helga’s club activities, you can find something to do and like-minded company.

I found my community through tutoring. I already knew during my orientation week that I wanted to be a tutor, and when the next tutor search came around, I filled out the application immediately. As a tutor, I got to know wonderful people, among whom I also found good friends. For me, tutoring also served as a kind of gateway to other student activities. As a student active, I’ve ended up doing a lot of things that I didn’t find interesting beforehand. However, I have found interesting aspects of many things and at the same time learned more about myself. So, I recommend boldly you to take part in different activities, because at best you can find a new passion for yourself!

Make time for your well-being
As my last tip (thank you if you read this far!) I want to remind you to make time for your own well-being as well. The calendar quickly fills up with studies, various events, hobbies, work, etc. Also leave completely empty moments in your calendar, so that sometimes you can also spontaneously do whatever pleases you. Also make room for exercise and recovery, they are too easily forgotten during studies. If your calendar gets too full, dare to say ‘no’ too. Take care of yourself because no one will do it for you.

Mari Rautanen
Helga board member 2023
BBA of Business Information Technology

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