What is a student sitsit in Finland? It is a seated dinner at a long table, usually inside the campus, organized by student organizations. It is very popular in Finland, at least in Aalto University. I have already attended 3 sitsits in Aalto University so far. It is similar to the high table dinner, but in a Nordic way.
Before the sitsit, the organizer will ask if you have special diets and tell you about the dress code. Dress code can be anything, ranging from glamorous tuxedo and evening dress to semi-formal cocktail, or casual, fun and playful themes. I have attended one sitsit with the theme “Photosynthesis”, which was co-organized by The Guild of Architecture – Aalto-yliopiston Arkkitehtikilta, Nuoret Designerit Ry and TOKYO – Students of Arts, Design and Architecture. Everyone was dressed in fashion inspired by “Photosynthesis”, such as green or floral clothings. The decorations were also plants-related and vegetarian meals were served.
During a sitsit, soup, a main course and dessert are served, along with alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. A sitsit is guided by one or several toastmasters. The toastmaster works as a host to give speeches, introduce performers of the evening, ask if anyone wants to perform spontaneously, keep a nice atmosphere and make sure the sitsit runs smoothly. So, what do people perform? What do people do in a 4-hour-long-dinner? We usually sing. After singing a song, we toast to the people sitting next to you one by one, saying “skoal”, which means “cheers”.
Wait, what? I can’t sing. I only sing when I am taking a shower. Don’t worry, the singing is guided by song masters and performers. Tens of people are singing along with you, so you won’t stand out. What if you are a natural performer? You can request to lead a song and have the 15 minutes of fame in the evening. The songs sung in a sitsit are usually traditional or well-known Finnsih songs and sometimes the original lyrics are replaced by something goofy. Everyone will be given the song list with lyrics to sing along. It’s completely fine if you can’t speak Finnish. You can also just listen and enjoy the fun atmosphere.
The most recent sitsit I attended was the one for 7 Polytechnic choirs from all over Finland because I am a member in a Polytechnic choir called Dissonanssi. It was amazing to get the chance to meet singers from choirs from all over Finland. Some of them are from Tampere, Lappeenranta and Oulu. It was like a mini concert with different choirs performing in the evening.
The highlight of the evening was the performance of a small concert band. Everyone started cheering and dancing in pairs. Even though I don’t understand Finnish very well, it was so much fun to join this kind of student events to experience the Finnish student culture and see the passionate side of Finns. Would you like to attend a student sitsit too?