Hello There, freshers!
And welcome to the Bachelor’s Programme in Science. We are Integralis ry, the student organisation for the BSc students here in Kumpula. Student organisations are a big part of the student culture here in Finland and most, if not all, degree programmes have their own. Our goal at Integralis is to make sure you have the best of times here at Helsinki University and to help you out with your studies and well-being.
I’m sure you have many questions, whether this is going to be your first degree, or if you’ve experienced the university life already, whether you’re coming from abroad or are a Finnish student, but worry not we’re here to answer (hopefully) all of them. And if we miss something here, you can always email us at integralis(at)Helsinki.fi, or message a member of the board on Telegram (you can find the contacts in the association tab above). While we’re on the subject Tip #1: get the Telegram messaging app! It’s used a lot, especially in student circles and a lot of info is shared there in our General Chat.
In Helsinki Uni you can pick the courses for each period in SISU, the University’s study portal. It can seem a little daunting at first, but don’t worry, during the orientation the faculty and your tutors will walk you through it and help you navigate. Furthermore, for the first two periods everyone is going to have the same compulsory courses, whichever study track you’re in. Of course, you can pick courses on top of that, but it’s recommended to stick to the outline, to feel out what kind of a workload is best for you.
If you ever have any difficulties with your studies, you can always reach out to either your tutors, Integralis’ study officers, or the degrees studies coordinator, for help, guidance, and assistance.
If you are a fresher of the Helsinki university for the first time, you’re also eligible for a university laptop. You do need to complete the DIGI-A course to get it, so Tip #2 is to get that done asap.
The University offers many spots for you study independently, or in a group. There are various meeting, and group work rooms that you can reserve through the Outlook calendar with your university login. At least the main library in the Kaisa House, and the Kumpula Campus’ libraries are handy, but we can also recommend Oodi, the Helsinki city library in the city centre. When studying on campus you can also just come to Integralis’ student room Hideout in Exactum’s room c131. It’s great for casual studying or just hanging out during a break. There are snacks and coffee to help you avoid exhaustion, and it’s also where you can often find a board member, if you have anything you’d like to chat about. Our Tip #3 here would be to check out the other organisations’ student rooms too! The mathematicians of Matrix ry are always looking for more people to play Settlers of Catan in their Komero and the CS students of TKO-äly have Mario Cart constantly running in their Gurula, just to name a few. Which brings us to…
As I mentioned above, student organisations are a big deal in Finnish universities. Aside from Integralis there are a bunch of degree organisations in Kumpula. I already touched on the maths organisation Matrix and computer science one TKO-äly, but there’s also the chemistry org HYK and Resonanssi for physics, just to name a few. There are also organisations that don’t necessarily tied to a degree programme like Limes ry or different hobby organisations.
Even if an organisation is degree specific you rarely need to be a student of that programme to become a member and get at least most of the benefits. Membership fees for most organisations are around 3 euros for the year, so our Tip #4 would be: try them out! Go check out an event you’re interested in or join the mailing list, or at least check their website to see if they have stuff that interests you. Many students in Kumpula are members of multiple organisations, and all of them are very friendly to international students. Most of their communication to their members is also done in English as well as Finnish
But what’s the point? Well, the different organisations organise different events, sport their own archives of past exams and study materials, have different opportunities and excursions planned out with their sponsor companies, and celebrate their own traditions. While we in Integralis have all that, as well as representatives in our degree programme’s steering group to make sure the quality of your studies is top notch, it can be fun and helpful in feeling at home at the uni to get to know students from other organisations studying similar stuff in the Finnish programmes.
There are also a lot of events and parties that happen together with all the student organisations in Kumpula. During those you can easily recognise who’s studying what by the colour of their student overalls. This is a tradition in all Finnish universities and they’re often adorned with colourful badges gotten from different events or representing their degrees or just memes. When it comes to Kumpula organisations a quick colour guide would be:
Integralis - Sky Blue with a band on the leg representing the study track
HYK - Black
MaO (geography) - Green
Matrix - Red
Meridiaani(astrophysics) - Dark Blue
Resonanssi - Fucsia Red (NOT PINK)
Spektrum - Hot Pink
Synop (meteorology) - Yellow with a reflective band on the leg
TKO-äly - Yellow
There are numerous events happening throughout the year organised by Integralis and other student organisations, but you’ll get to those in time. For now, you should try to make it to the orientation week (28.08-03.09.), if at all possible. Sure, you will be able to get all the necessary information regarding your studies later, but the week will be filled with fun activities. You will spend a lot of time in your tutor groups during the week, and will get to know each other, the campus, and the city of Helsinki as a whole. There’s also some picnics and parties to meet other freshers from the degree and other organisations as well.
Of course there’s also all the important info sessions by the faculty and the check-in event for international students, but your tutors will make sure you know what’s happening, when and where. More thorough schedule for the orientation week will find you closer to the start of studies, courtesy of your tutor coordinators.
The excitement don’t stop, however, with the end of orientation week! Early on you’ll also have the Fresher Orienteering/Advenure. It’ll consist of you forming groups and goin around checkpoint in Helsinki city centre, competing for the title of the best fresher team, and just having fun. It’s not a serious competition, really, just another way for you to get to know each other and the older Integralis folk.
Last event we’ll mention here is the Fresher Sitsit. Sitsit are traditional Nordic academic table parties. They consist of food, drinks and a lot of signing and are super common events in Finnish student organisations. There’s a bunch of university- or even organisation-specific customs and inside jokes at every sitsit, but that’s why the Fresher Sitsit exist. At the Fresher Sitsit, all the rules are gone over, and the traditions passed forward to the new freshers. Bonus points if a fresher requests a song.
With all this said our last tip is Tip #5: DWAI - Don’t worry about it. It might seem overwhelming, or maybe the contrary, you might feel like there’s not enough info anywhere, but trust us, you’ll be fine. Don’t be afraid to contact your tutors, the faculty, or us in the board. Any worries you have, we are sure can be solved.
See you in Autumn,
The board of Integralis.