Everyone was talking about Vappu even weeks before May Day. There were big numbers in Otaniemi campus, counting down to Vappu. In the beginning, I was really confused about why people were so excited about May 1st, International Labour Day. In my home country Taiwan, it’s the day that labor rights are under examination, sometimes there is a labour protest against the government, not a day for cheerful celebration. Also, university students in Taiwan have nothing to do with Labour Day, simply enjoy a day off without special activities.
The teekkari cap is an auspicious symbol of the teekkari (technical student) lifestyle. It has a very rich history dating back to 1893. It is a summer cap which can be worn from 1st May (wappu) to 30th September. Special permission is required to wear the cap outside of these dates. But what if you were not born and raised in Finland? Does it mean you can never get this cap? Well, not really.
But in order to get the cap you should first integrate with Finnish culture, most importantly teekkari culture. So as a student at Aalto, you can get the teekkari point card from your respective guild and start filling in the points by attending a variety of events and doing a whole bunch of different things that are part of the teekkari lifestyle. The points on the card are divided into different sections, and I’ll go over all the sections and major events required to get a teekkari cap.
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.
I come from a Asian country where the sun shine 12 hour a day year-round. There, I also spent the first 24 year of my life in the same town, thus the frequency of encountering an acquaintance every time you head out is more than twice a day.
If you are like me, then the difference you gonna experience when you come to Finland, where people like to keep things within themselves and prefer spending their vacation in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, is quite drastic. For me, that means having a lot more time spent with myself on my own, because Finns, or at least the ones I met, are mostly introverts and not quite proactive in getting to know others. Couple that with the fact that winter here last from November to March, with an average of 6 hours of sunlight daily, I guess it would be useful to consider the challenges and rewards of having lots of time, without much sunlight to cheer you up (winter scenery here is breathtaking in daytime, though), and not having too many local friends to hangout.