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Page updated 30.9.2019

Opening of the academic year 2019–20 – from a foreigner's point of view

During TUAS Opening – the opening of the academic year – students were able to meet the staff of TUAS, learn about them and find out more about the school. But how did it look like, from a foreigner’s point of view?

Text: Agnieszka Olenska, trainee at TUAS Communications Services

Ever since I arrived to Finland, I’ve been learning more and more about Finnish customs and traditions. As someone from the outside I must say – Finns have an adorable way of celebrating important events, and all of the traditions around these events makes it even more charming.

The organization of the whole event was nice. The carnival theme that Noxit Group  created really fit in the celebration of starting the new semester. Snacks and drinks were provided, along with a photo booth and other gadgets. Even though most of the speeches were in Finnish, I was able to understand some of them – for example the awards given for the staff, or the ‘TUAS Fellow’ title.

TUAS Opening – a warm welcoming

I’ve been studying for 3 years at the University Of Gdansk . As much fun as it is, I must say we never came up with such a way to celebrate the start of the academic year as TUAS did. Usually, our year starts with the rector and vice-rectors giving a speech, while being dressed in red long gowns with an ermine collar and red headgear. There is also a choir and everyone has to look very formal. Most of the people who attend the beginning of the year are freshmen, who are trying to find their way around a new University.

In Poland, we like to emphasize the difference between the teacher and the student. We usually address them as Mr/Ms Professor; we are both dressed quite formally, even during the classes. That’s quite a odd for Finnish people, who are used to calling their teacher by their name (which was unthinkable for me at the beginning) and treating them more like mentors.

What I really like about TUAS and during TUAS Opening was the atmosphere. Everyone is open and nice, we are all here to get to know and help each other. No one is judging, people are welcoming and warm. The stereotype of an official rector was broken by him juggling on the stage. It really shows that the members of the staff are also regular people – just like the students.


The whole idea of patches and overalls is also something that I find very charming. They weren’t missing from the TUAS opening, either. Most of the students came in overalls and were able to collect patches from stands representing for example CampusSport  or Boost .

The way of collecting patches during parties and other events make overalls a great piece of memory. I must say I really regretted not getting one during my exchange. Either way my pair wouldn’t look as impressive as the ones that belong to Finnish students – especially the ones who are ending their studies.

In Poland we don’t have our version of graduation hats nor overalls. The only thing close to that is the graduation gown with a hat that some of the Universities require students to wear during graduation. It’s not a common custom, and as far as I know Gdansk Medical University is the only school in my city that encourages students to wear them.

Parties & Student Union

The next thing that Finns take for granted is the amount of parties or other events (like TUAS Opening) organized by the school or student unions. What I’ve noticed is that there are lots of them, especially in the beginning of the new semester, so new students can get to know each other. Those kind of events don’t really exist in my university. Usually we have a big party in the middle of the study period (for example – if studies last 5 years – we party after 2,5 years, if 3 –  after 1,5 years) to proclaim the fact that half of the time is already done. Nowadays, balls are getting more and more popular. Girls wear the best dresses, guys are suiting up, and students are celebrating along with their teachers.

But usually in the beginning of the year, there is one – or none – integration parties. It’s your own job to meet new people and try to ‘fit in’. I think it’s supposed to teach us to handle our own business, and rely on no one, but ourselves. In Poland, we like to be independent and self-sufficient. Maybe sometimes even too independent – a little integration party never killed anybody, right?