In the orientation week of August 2019, I was hanging out in Kaisaniemi Park with friends who were introducing the operations of the Speksi student play. A freshman who presented himself as Rasmus arrived there and said, “Are any of you watching Twin Peaks? It’s funny how every time you go somewhere, and someone recognizes the series, an immediate connection is made. ”
We have a longing to be a part of some social group. About 10,000 students study at Haaga-Helia on five campuses, all of whom have walked different paths in their life. However, the closest friends are not always found immediately during the orientation week or in the same class. So where could like-minded students meet? At their best, the Clubs are highlighting the diversity of the student community by building smaller communities within the student union.
All started in the autumn semester of 2018. I was then a third-year management assistant student, and was completing my internship. I was feverishly thinking about a topic for my thesis that should somehow be related to meetings and events. I wanted to be my own boss and do something that felt like me. I had been studying at Haaga-Helia for two years, but the beginning of my studies and moving to my own apartment had seemed to hit a very sore area between youth and adulthood.In the first years of my studies, I had felt so lonely. The hollow feeling of loneliness had eased a little bit later. I had previously been an exchange tutor for a year and had recently started in Helga’s Speksi on the script team.
One day, I noticed the Helga Splash- newsletter had come to my email, informing me that Helga’s club operations would begin to be renewed. My heart started beating faster and I thought maybe this is the thing I could do my thesis for. What if I started a club?
A few weeks later, Helga Club Tupa – Haaga-Helia’s “nerd club” came to be. The club is intended for all students from Haaga-Helia, who are even a little interested in games, movies, series, books, etc., and who want to participate in student activities on a low threshold. In the start, the club’s activities were based on series marathons and board games on weekday evenings on the Pasila campus, and since last spring the club has regularly organized virtual game sessions (such as Jackbox, board games and drawing games) on the club’s Discord server.
A combo of three, being a club director, writing my thesis and shifting to working life prolonged my studies by half a year, but in summer 2020, the degree papers were in my hands. I had a lot of experiences and funny memories from the club activities – so much so that I can’t list everything. The most fun things have been the holding of checkpoints during the orientation weeks and Fresher’s parties, the cake making for Tupa’s birthday, the crafting of the club flag together and hanging out at Discord.
However, acting as the main nerd of Club Tupa was not always just sunshine and beautiful flowers. Since the club activities started from virtually zero, at first it seemed hard to organize the activities and market the club. Perhaps in the beginning, we tried to do too much regarding events. If I started from scratch now and did things again, I would try to do events less often and use the planning time more carefully. On the other hand, you learn by doing.
I learned more than a lot about event organizing, working with different people, and project management. Especially at the start of the club, it was an actual assistant project: I got to try all sorts of interesting things. I also found new points of interest for my nerd hobby, such as Twin Peaks and Star Trek. During the project, I met and became friends with many different students that I might not have met otherwise. The best part was when someone came later to thank you for a nice event or to say that the club has helped them find like-minded people.
Finally, gold-worthy tips for organizing club activities:
- Course performance and work experience
Being a club active can speed up your studies if you are creative enough. I used Club Tupa as an example, at least for my social media course, strategy course, and of course my thesis topic. I also know that the highscore-bot on Tupa’s Discord server has been made as a school assignment by a data processor student. You can also fill out your resume with active positions.
- How have things been done elsewhere?
In club activities, I noticed that even if the activity was new, it was still not worth reinventing the wheel. When planning Club Tupa’s activities, my other hobbies, such as girl scouts, were helpful. I also followed some of the activities of other similar clubs at other universities. For example, Nyyti ry has a lot of material and tips for community activities.
- Ask for help and network!
For friends and acquaintances, it’s worth mentioning when you need help. Maybe someone you know has a ready solution to the problem or they are interested in getting involved? Last spring we found a leader for a Dungeons & Dragons table role-playing through a friend for Club Tupa. Unfortunately, this happened just before the pandemic, and now the search for the game leader continues again!
The student union board will also provide assistance with, for example, marketing and event planning.
- Community activities during a pandemic?
Online platforms in particular have proven to be worth their weight in gold during a pandemic. Club Tupa’s operations have largely been moved to the Discord server, where you can be connected by chat, voice and video. The wonderland of the internet is full of different games that can be used as activities. The server will probably remain in use, even if someday the events move back to campuses.
- Remember to give time to yourself.
In the beginning, I had problems with time management, but on the other hand, I learned to schedule my time better. I set a rule for myself that I would no longer take care of club-related matters after nine in the evening, which helped me recover.
- What are you interested about?
Organizing club activities should be fun, most of the time. For this reason, it is a good idea to think carefully about the club topic according to your own interests, although it is of course also important to think about what would be of interest to other participants.
You can find out more about Helga Club Tupa’s activities here.
The author is the founder of Helga Club Tupa, a veteran of Helga club activities and a wash-resistant nerd.