A glimpse of last autumn’s orientation week

My study semester at Aalto University started with orientation week. During my bachelor’s studies, I had the experience of orientation ‘day’ back in my home university in Pakistan. A typical orientation day included enrolment tasks, talks about university value and code of conduct and a brief tour of the campus. So orientation ‘week’ made me wonder what to expect and it included all the right things to start the semester, starting from enrollment to a lot of parties.

Orientation week at Aalto has two kinds of activities.

Photo by Roee Cohen

Photo by Roee Cohen

Enrollment related tasks:

Registration to the University:

On the very first day of the orientation, tutors take the freshmen for the enrollment. The whole process is guided and can be completed fairly quickly. This step is quite essential before proceeding to other tasks like obtaining HSL (for transport) card and registration to maistraatti.

Maistraatti registration:

After getting enrollment letter from the University, next step is to register with maistraatti. Maistraatti is the Local Register Office which needs to be notified that you have moved to Finland. While notifying maistraatti about your relocation, you need to state the reason which is study and enrollment letter is proof of that.

HSL card for transport:

After maistraatti registration is complete, students can apply for HSL card and get student discounts on transport. The card works on buses, metro, trams and trains. The discounts are also substantial so it makes the transport affordable for students.

Based on the number of students the above process takes 1-2 days.

General information sessions:

On the 3rd day of the orientation, there are information sessions about the schools and guilds. During these sessions, faculty members share study tracks and study environment of the schools. Guild representatives introduce their guilds and highlight their functions, inviting prospective students to join them.

Specific information sessions:

Study track specific information sessions are held on 4th day. These information sessions are more relevant to the students’ chosen study tracks. They highlight the requirements for successful study completion, possibilities of long/short major, mandatory courses etc.

Recreational activities:

Enrollment activities are taken care of during the work day, while evenings are reserved for fun and partying. There are parties every day.


This is a music and dance party organized by the guild in Smökki. It provides a good opportunity to dance it off and makes you feel at home already. It is also a great place to meet some new people who will be studying with you throughout the semester.

Group photo:

There is a group photo for all the schools behind the main building, a good addition to university memories.

Photo by Pinja Valja

Photo by Pinja Valja


Orienteering is one of the most fun events. It is team based, interactive and requires some creativity. Different students from different guilds setup checkpoints. Freshmen can form small groups, get a point card and start visiting these checkpoints where they are required to do something fun, something out of the ordinary. It can be some video game, mock shooting, dancing or a puzzle. Based on the task, the group can get points from the checkpoint owners. But there also more points reserved for creativity and team diversity, like international point (i.e. if you have a variety of international students in your team). Finally the team with highest points wins and gets a cool prize.

Aalto party:

The last day of orientation is dedicated to Aalto party and after party. Aalto party is a great opportunity to get acquainted with all the guilds, clubs and other organizations like Erasmus Student Network (ESN). There are many stalls for puzzle games and some for physical sports. Food stalls serve a variety of food to keep your energy levels high throughout the party. It also has a sauna for sauna lovers a.k.a. everybody.

Photo by Heidi Strengell

Photo by Heidi Strengell

After party:

Shortly after the Aalto party is over, there is a grand after party waiting for the new comers. Otahalli is reserved for the after party to accommodate all the party lovers. It gets you all pumped up for the laborious studies coming ahead.

This was a brief picture of what to expect during orientation week at Aalto. If you are an Aalto student and think that I left something out, please feel free to leave a comment.

Zaheer Ahmed

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