Student Overalls – A big part of Finnish Student Culture

Student looking at Lake Näsi wearing green student overalls.

Have you ever not been able to decide what to wear to a student party? In Finland, this is not a question, because we have “haalarit” – student overalls.

As part of the Finnish student tradition, most student associations that represent a study programme or a study field, have overalls in specific colours. With the different colours, students are easily recognised as part of an association at Tampere University. They are worn on any type of student event, ranging from parties and “sitsit” to hikes and sometimes even in daily life.

Individualistic but also part of a group

The most important aspect of the overall tradition are the “haalarimerkki” = overall patches, a very unique set of patches that are sewed to one’s overall. Patches are often prices from student events (for example at city rallies), or given out by different institutions, such as TREY (Student Union of Tampere University) and TOAS (company for student housing in Tampere).

Of course, you can also buy patches online or design your own. Most overalls that you see around the city and on campus are completely covered in patches and advertisements. The latter mean that every association gathers sponsors so that ordering the overalls is cheaper for the students. Sponsors range from companies that want to hire graduates from that specific study field, to brewhouses and pubs that just want some extra attention in the student world.

It is not just about wearing the overalls

Some fun facts surrounding the overalls tradition: in many associations you are not supposed to wash them.  You can only wash the overalls while also wearing them, meaning that you either take a shower or jump into a lake with them. Additionally, when you date someone from a different association, you can exchange the leg or arm part of your overalls to show that you are taken. This is obviously a large commitment and not seen very often! There are also many rules on how to wear the overalls: engineering students wear the entire suits while non-engineering students usually only wear the pants part and tie the upper part to their waist like a belt.

The association colours give a feeling of group identity!

Despite all these confusing traditions, overalls have many benefits. They are convenient for the cold Finnish weather and a great way to express what you have been up to or what you like through the patches. The association colours give a feeling of group identity and make the whole being a student in Finland experience unique and unforgettable!

In case you come to Finland as an exchange student: ESN FINT (Erasmus Student Network of Tampere, Finland) got you covered! You can order your own overall through them and be recognisable as an exchange student by wearing green. More information on this can be found here: ESN FINT Student overalls and if you want to know which colour your own study field wears, check this link out: TREY’s Community symbols.

– Gina

About the writer: Gina studies Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research at Tampere University. She enjoys taking runs at the lakes in Tampere and experimenting with cooking and baking. Her favourite part about studying in Finland is being part of a lively student community.