Text and photos: International Student Ambassador Coordinator Sara Haapanen
You may have noticed that the shops are bursting with cakes right now, and unless you’re on a diet it’s a time to indulge a little. And of course, there is a reason behind it all.
You have probably seen some little golden brown almond towers topped with a blob of raspberry jam and a circle of icing, these are called Runeberg cakes. Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804–1877) is the national poet of Finland, the author of a poem which is now proudly the lyrics of the Finnish national anthem. Legend had it that his wife made him these cakes and they are produced every year as a little celebration. He has his own flag day too, 5th February, so eat cake and give a little toast to Finnish history. Continue reading “February Fun and Frolicks!”
Hi everybody! This is the best time to experience the autumn of Helsinki. Trees are getting colorful and appealing now. A little bit raining day may let you down but anyway you deserve to hang out for a while and explore some interesting things to do. Here are some suggestions and hope you like them.
They say being born in Finland is like winning a lottery. I say studying in Finland is better. No amount of money can beat the amount of new friends, adventures, and experiences studying here will give you. During the summer you will get a letter from your tutor, but I wanted to greet you with a few welcoming words first.
The University of Helsinki is one of the best universities in the world. This is not only my opinion. The university has been several times ranked among the top 100 universities in the world. We are known particularly for the quality and amount of research. At the University of Helsinki, all teachers participate in research. Believe it or not, our best professors can also be our best teachers!
To keep business and pleasure in balance, the University of Helsinki has an active student life. With over 35 000 students, there is always something happening. Running in the forest with a map and a compass, wine tasting with surgeons, bar touring dressed up in overalls, taking a cruise to Sweden with your fellow students… All of this and a lot more is organised by the students of our university. If you get tired of student life, the city of Helsinki has also a variety of sights and attractions to offer. There are plenty of parks, museums, shopping malls, and cafes where you can take a break and have a moment to yourself. And then return to student life.
It is normal to feel nervous before starting studies in a new country. There is a lot to do and to remember in a new city with new people. This is why we have tutors, students at the University of Helsinki who are trained to take care of you and help you with your journey into the academic and student life. All the questions about certificates, documents, course registrations, and campus area are answered by the tutors. They also take you to the best parties and organise hangouts. A tutor is someone whose goal is to make you feel welcome and like home here.
We are all looking forward to meeting you at the end of August. Let the adventure begin!
On Monday 30th January we visited the Observatory, one of the Helsinki university museums. It is incredibly easy to get to, a leisurely short walk from the city center. We were greeted by Paula, a very energetic, bubbly and extremely knowledgeable tour guide who made us all feel at home.
The observatory was completed in 1834 is now a museum but was lived in as recently as the 1960’s by the professor of astronomy. There are several fun reminders of its residential history such as a section of the wallpapers through the years or the antique cooker near the cloakroom.
The tour begins in a room with some fascinating old equipment such as telescopes and documents and we even discover that the lounge ceiling would have opened to allow the astronomer to lounge back on his chair and study the night skies. It sounds very idyllic and extremely romantic until we discover that the fireplace in the room would have remained cold as the heat would cause visual disturbances. Perhaps a little chilly in the winter!
On the 27th of January, a bunch of us Student Ambassadors were lucky enough to get a guided tour of our university’s museum. We are definitely privileged as a university to have a museum dedicated to safeguarding the entirety of our institution’s history.
The University of Helsinki’s rich and long history can be divided into three main eras. It was established in 1640 as the Royal Academy of Turku. In the 1800s it was moved to Helsinki during the Russian Imperial era, hence becoming the Imperial Alexander University in Finland. It was during this period that the university became increasingly more scientific and research-based, kind of like we know it today. Finally, in the post-Independence era, it became the University of Helsinki. These periods are all easily colour-coded in the museum’s itinerary, a set of informative displays under some gorgeous and ever-changing ceiling lights.
You may have guessed from roadside trees for sale and twinkly lights popping up everywhere that it’s the final countdown for Christmas. But what exactly does that mean in Finland?
There is a very beautiful tradition of visiting the graveyard on Christmas Eve and lighting a candle to place on the grave in memory of those friends and family members not with us anymore. Finnish graveyards also have special areas that are for all those without a resting place or buried elsewhere which anyone is welcome to visit. Hietaniemi cemetery can be visited at Hietaniemenkatu 20.
Father Christmas is called ‘joulupukki’ in Finnish and he lives in Lapland (ask him yourself if you don’t believe me!). But because he lives so close Finnish children get the benefit of being first on the list and they get their presents on 24th December. It is fairly common Santa arrives on the doorstep at some point during the day and personally hands out the presents.
Are you staying in Finland over the Christmas holidays?
You may be going to Lapland, travelling elsewhere within Finland or the other Nordic countries, or staying in Helsinki to experience a Finnish Christmas. If this is the case, here is what you can do in Helsinki during the holiday period:
Has November got you down? Don’t worry, we have the solution: free art!
For the 13th time Ateneum is opening its doors to students to give them an experience full of culture, lectures and workshops at the Art for Us! event on November 23. Come indulge yourself in the masterpieces of italian painter-sculptor Amedeo Modigliani.
This year, the Student Union of the University of Helsinki celebrates its 148th anniversary!
Our student union will celebrate its birthday at the Old Student House on 26 Nov. However, the celebration will start already one week earlier! The anniversary week offers a wide range of activities for HYY’s members. Pick your favourite events and join the celebration!
22 Nov Match Made in Museum – Student Edition
4pm–8pm University Museum
The singles night organised by the University Museum and HYY provides ice-breaking programme, interesting encounters and a little bit of history and culture at the same time. https://www.facebook.com/events/1765294973731980/
3pm–7pm Main Building of the University of Helsinki (Fabianinkatu 33)
Friends of HYY’s History (HYYHY) association organises a seminar on the phases of the student union and students. After the seminar, you can get to know the University Museum on a guided tour. In Finnish. https://www.facebook.com/events/1282147295151929/
24 Nov The formal wear flea market!
4pm-8pm Alina Hall (Mannerheimintie 5 A, 3th floor)
The festive period is a joyful time but can also signal constantly recurring clothing crises for some. Thankfully, we have a solution for this: the formal wear flea market! https://www.facebook.com/events/1750332598560764/
26 Nov Birthday party at the Old Student House
11pm-3.30am Old Student House (Mannerheimintie 3)
HYY celebrates its birthday at the Old Student House. The evening will be filled with music, dance and – thanks to our anniversary partner – very, very student-priced sparkling wine. Tickets 6 euros when bought by Sunday 20 Nov, and include a free overall patch as well as the cloakroom service fee! https://www.facebook.com/events/1786402184932503/
27 Nov HYY148 SIllis Breakfast
12am-6pm Christina Regina ja Gustavus Rex (Leppäsuonkatu 11)
Do you want to continue the bombastic party feeling of HYY148 the next day? Come to the free sillis, available to those participating in the Birthday Party on the previous day! https://www.facebook.com/events/1836357629942414/
Whether you’re a freshman on the verge of your first May Day celebration or a more experiensed celebrator, there’s not a better way to end your rough study year than the first of May. In Helsinki, the celebration of May Day, Vappu in Finnish, Vappen in Swedish, celebrations begin on 30 April.