A dictionary for Finnish Student Life: From A like Appro to W like Wappu!
The Finnish student culture is very active and vivid! The student-organized events and associations offer great possibilities to connect and identify within the student community. Here are some important terms that are useful to know to fully immerse in Finland’s student culture!
ApproThis event is all about different challenges and checkpoints: Students need to compete in different challenges, either individually or in teams. Based on the focus of the appro, checkpoints can include different challenges or topics.
OverallsStudent overalls are one of the most characteristic pieces of student culture in Finland! Students’ overalls colors are determined by the university and the field of studies. At our university, for example, law students have dark red overalls and education students have dark green ones. This encourages the sense of community within your student organization, as you proudly represent your organization by wearing the overalls on all kinds of student events. Overalls usually have the sponsors’ logos printed on it but also patches that the student sews on it. Also exchange students can get an overall from the student association ESN.
PatchIn Finland, patches are not only used to fix broken clothes: They are the “decoration” of your overall! After a student event, you receive a patch that you can sew on your overall – a nice way to remember the events you attended during your studies in Finland.
SitsitSitsit (“sitnings”) are one of the most common student events in Finland. Originally from Sweden, the events are a fun and interactive happening: Students sit on long tables and sing songs directed by the toastmasters. There are many rules that sitsit-attendees need to follow, such as eating and drinking only when it has been allowed by the toastmasters. Sitisits often have a specific theme that everyone is dressing according to. Drinks provided for the participants can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
Student OrganizationsStudents’ subject organizations are a very important part of Finnish student life. Depending on the subject of your studies, you can become a member of your study field’s student association. They organize events and represent students of their subject in the university’s administration and decision-making. Each organization elects a board for each academic year, whose members have different responsibilities such as communication, director or event-planner. Every member can candidate for the board.
WappuWappu is the biggest student event. It is celebrated once a year on the 1st of May, although the events related to Vappu may start already earlier. On May Day, which is an important date for celebrating workers’ rights, students celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of the spring. Traditionally, students wear their “Ylioppilaslakki” – a white hat that they receive for high school graduation.
The author of the blog, Vanessa, is studying Tourism, Culture & International Management at the University of Lapland. @tourcim