Vappu

Vappu is one of the biggest national holidays were Finns celebrate their workforce and the Unions. The importance of the Unions is to have supporting groups that look for the wellbeing and a fair worklife, regulations and laws among the different trades like engineering (TEK). Finland is a country were the labour unions are very strong and respected among the workers and employers. Vappu, is a day to remember the importance of labour and a day to party and have a good time with friends and family. Internationally know as May day or Labour day,  Vappu is celebrated in many countries in the world to commemorate the workers.

In Finland Vappu is a colourful, musical and relaxing celebration happening in all the places around the country. As part of the official ceremonies, Finns also have a tradition of visiting local monuments. Some unions and political parties beside the students give speeches related to their activities, achievements and goals.

Vappu is also the last celebration before the students start their summer jobs and move away from their study places and relocate around the country. In the student life, Vappu is the party of the year and there are continuous guild parties starting already a month in advance – yes, we students do like to party!-.

Some of the activities are so different to what you would probably expect and also very popular like the renowned Wesibussi, which is a bus that drives around the city bringing people to join the party. Furthermore, Vappu is the only time of the year where you’re allowed to drink inside the bus whilst loud music plays in the background. Basically, you’re in the party the minute you step in the bus and drive around with your friends and drink. The popularity of this bus is so crazy and famous that students make huge lines to get the tickets and even they –literally camp– inside the campus the night before the tickets are available. Obviously, the tickets are sold like hot baked bread so you really need to be in the line if you don’t want to miss the party!

The main day of the happening is the Vappu eve, which is the last day of April. In the downtown you can find vendors with large amounts of balloons indicating that the celebration has started. Students are found all over the city with their colourful overalls representing each guild they belong to –mine is mint colour and represents Industrial Engineering– and then they all walk to the park in the center of Oulu.

At the park in the Oulu center there is another interesting happening, called the “Freshmen Swimming” where the freshmen students of technological guilds will jump into a pond. The crowd gathers around it to verify that the student have completely dipped in the water – which sometimes can be very icy and crisp -. If the student fails to dip fully, the crowd will make him or her sumerge until is done properly. This activity is very popular in the technological guilds all over Finland. After the event the students will receive the Teekkarilakki which is a cap with a black a tassel that identifies technological students. This activity is sort of  a graduation for all the freshmen students.

Part of the fun of Vappu day is to gather with friends and arrange picnics serving popular snacks like sausages and chips as well as various sorts of beverages which can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic, I like to enjoy sparkling wine! Some people decide to have a barbecue at their homes with friends. After this event in the park, going to saunas as pre party is very common. The guilds organize activities and parties in the night. Heads up, heavy drinking is very common in this day for the students!

Vappu is not only for the students, people from all ages celebrate it as their own. You can see kids with their friends with balloons as well as students jumping to the pond and adults with their student caps commemorating the student life and showing that they did the same rituals in their student’ times. Expect also to see people wearing wigs and colourful decor over them, remember that Vappu is a carnival too!

Traditional pastries and drinks of the Vappu are: Munkki and Sima. Munkki is a Finnish doughnut, spiced with cardamom, deep fried and covered with caster sugar. The most common shapes found for this delicacy is the doughnut shape and round shaped munkki which can be filled with jelly or cream. Sima, in the other hand, is a sort of mead which is a type of beverage obtain by fermentation and depending on the time is fermented can contain low amounts of alcohol levels. This drink is made with lemon, yeast, brown sugar and raisins and normally made few weeks in advance, the sima is very tasty and a must try in Vappu.

So, Vappu celebrations are about to start and it’s my time to join the party!

Have a great Vappu everyone!

Cheers! Salud! Kippis!

Opening ceremony and Vulcanalia event

This is a late (late) post about the events that took place at the beginning of this academic year at University of Oulu.  At first, we had orientation days for all new students (exchange or degree) that arrived to complete their exchange or pursue a degree in the different faculties of the University, where we heard few welcome words from the different academic representatives and a quick cheers to the new students and to the old ones as well.

Official Ceremony

Later on, we had a traditional opening ceremony which took place in the main hall –Saalasti sali- which is one of the biggest halls for ceremonies and events in the university with simplistic yet very modern decorations made by a Finnish artist -at least that’s what I have been explained before.  

The ceremony has a very unusual start since all the participants and the guests are waiting for the rector of the university along with the professors that have achieved the doctoral degree to march towards the center of the stage with their doctoral hats which are a representation of the symbol of liberty, scholarship and freedom of research (more details here: http://www.oulu.fi/confermentceremony/the_hat_and_sword).

The rector, Jouko Niiinimäki, welcomed us with very sincere words in Finnish and in English distinguishing in his speech the achievements of the past year’ and the future goals for the upcoming year with a positive attitude towards better education and diversity. Some guests also presented their words of support towards the rector’s words and expectations of the education level of the university. A very interesting award of achievement was also granted for innovative solutions which have been awarded by international and national funding besides of other internal awards that marked the beginning of a new academic year. The brief intermissions were filled in by the Oulu University Sinfonica performing various iconic pieces of Jean Sibelius which entertained all the guests, staff members and students participating in the event.

Vulcanalia

In the evening of the same day, an opening ceremony for the students took place -this year was held in the parking place outside the university. A small stage and a line of various tents created a celebratory atmosphere along with the students from all of the faculties joining the event. Bright and colorful overalls (haalarit) of different faculties and the white hats were all over the event arena. You could definitely feel the vibe of a student party from the cheers and laughter of the students heard from far behind. A few guests performers took over the stage and made the crowd dance and have fun. People were enjoying themselves a lot with food stands that were available, group activities, like dark pictures, face painting and other things to make the night brighter for the new students –and to the old ones- that enjoy this event. Many of the students after the event in the campus continued the celebration in the after parties that took place in many bars in the city center.

So far, this academic year has started well for most of us. Many other important things are on the way but I will tell you more about them in another post!

 

Orientation weekend

A warm welcome from Colectivo to all the new students coming to the city of Oulu, the University of Oulu and to the University of Applied Sciences!! This week has started with the official arrival of the majority of the exchange students and the masters or degree students to the university.

Yesterday, on day one of the Orientation at Oulu University, there was a lot of emotions involved. You could see a nice amount of newcomers: Finnish freshmen students and International students coming from many countries around the world. The multicultural background seen yesterday at the opening of the orientation was truly overwhelming with different activities planned to guide the new students towards a better understanding of the education system in Finland, practicalities of the university and familiarize with the campus which will lead them to raise their expectation of what will happen with their studies and personal life among other issues related to what to expect during this semester or until the completion of their studies.

For those studying at the University of Oulu, some changes have taken place within the campus in Linnanmaa: still in plain view there are improvements, remodeling and changing the structure of some areas and buildings as well as major changes in the food services along the university restaurants and cafeterias. Always the changes bring a new vibe and that’s what we can appreciate from the areas that have been completed. The new cafeterias -old ones that have been updated and upgraded- have such a fresh new look that actually invites to enjoy a warm beverage and meals whether you are in a rush between lectures or just chilling with friends.

The second day of the Orientation provides a deeper look to university practicalities related directly to studies and compulsory steps as the ones mentioned in Orientation and the Checklist. The end of this day involves the presentation of different student associations for international students which provide leisure activities -Yes, including parties and traveling!- within the duration of your studies.

The importance of the orientation is to get yourself familiarized with the university, surroundings, academical and leisure activities to make your exchange or degree time in Oulu one of a kind experience you will ever have! –Believe me, it will be truly an amazing experience that you will never forget!

What will be coming in the following week is the New’s day (held on Tuesday 5th), the official academic year opening ceremony and Vulcanalia even held on the Wednesday September 6 but more information about these events here: http://www.oulu.fi/university/new-students/orientation

Just brief information about Vulcanalia, which is the official event for students organized by the OYY (or Student Union of the University of Oulu): it is a big event where you will find live music and some other fun activities taking place! Do not miss it! Get your tickets in the main hall in front of Tellus during this week before the event!

Welcome and have a great start of the semester!

See you around the university!

First Official Post

Welcome to the Colectivo blog!

This blog was created to help anyone who is coming for different reasons to Finland and to the northern city of Oulu.

The different posts will help you to check all the important matters you need prior your arrival to the city, what to do, where to go among other subjects.

If you are a new student coming to Oulu check all the detailed information in the Welcome Guide.

Please, enjoy your visit and come back often to check for new and updated information.