For an introvert, the first weeks at any place are always the worst. Forced social interactions, no routine or familiar faces and the feeling of non-belonging constantly lurking around. So I wasn’t really keen on what was announced as my first lecture. A 90 students and 9 professor strong compulsory beginner course for 1st year students of the Department of Media. UMAD – Understanding media art and design was the very first course in my very first week at Aalto University.
But what seemed like a pretty lame introduction lecture at first – aiming for new students to get to know each other, learning working methods and tools and including the usual awkwardness of obligatory group work – turned out to be surprisingly empowering.
After some quick presentations of the different departments and inspirational talks, the task for us students was to occupy a space at Väre, the newest building of the Otaniemi Campus and home for all Art, Design and Architect students. On day one, we were divided into groups of six. On day four, we already had set up an exhibition spanning over three floors and twelve different locations, including artworks, performance and concepts from all fields of media (e.g. photography, visual communication and sound design).
My group provided an occupation for beginners. A place where nothing was expected but to lay back and relax until you’re ready to explore and to leave your mark. A couch, some pillows and cups of hot chocolate. Our goal was to create a relaxed environment, because already in our first week it become clear that being at Aalto means to be surrounded by an overload of creativity.
When you arrive at the new Väre campus you might question your right to be here. You automatically start to compare yourself with others and it becomes alarmingly easy to get swallowed by the competitive affairs of everyday study life. That’s why we created a chill-out base for a day. A place that strives to break out of the self-centered environment and encourages everyone to connect with the magnificence of others. We created a map with all the temporary occupations and invited students of all fields to discover the rooms, corridors and corners of Väre, conquered by the 1st semester Master students in Media, Art and Design. Each of the twelve groups showcased their own vision of what it means to occupy.
Although it was only an occupation/exhibition for a few days it has been an incredibly fun and rewarding experience. It’s been enriching for me on many levels. Primarily as a photography student, because I had the chance to work together with incredibly talented Visual Communication Designers and Artists, but also as someone who dreaded the course in the beginning. And maybe I had a glimpse at what people refer to as the Aalto Spirit. It took less than a week for my prejudices to be crushed and for me to realize that even an introvert can easily find his place here and make Väre and every other Aalto Building one’s own playground. I know if I can do it, so can anyone else. So go ahead, this place is yours to take.
Apply for MA Program Photography