The autumn event of Finnish student culture: APPRO
The first big event of the academic year, especially for students in Tampere, is probably Hämeenkadun Appro. Traditionally taking place in October, Appro draws over 10 000 students from all over Finland to Tampere each year. The event consists mainly of a pub crawl around Tampere’s city centre in which participants collect stamps from the bars they’ve visited in order to acquire “academic degrees” within a few hours’ time. In previous years, the pub-crawl and after-party were complimented by entertaining competitions, music performances by famous artists and even bungee jumping in the city! After a forced break in 2020, Appro is planned again for October this year.
During wintertime: Christmas parties & Kyykkä Championship
In late November and during December, Christmas parties (“pikkujoulut”) are common everywhere in Finland and almost all student associations organise fun get-togethers for their members, e.g sauna evenings or Sitsit (see below).
Winter is also Kyykkä time. More precisely, in February when Finland is – ideally – covered in snow, thousands of students gather once again in Hervanta, Tampere for the World Championship of Kyykkä. In this traditional team sport from Karelia, Eastern Finland, small wooden blocks (“kyykkä”) are knocked out of a square with a bat (“karttu”). Of course, the whole thing doesn’t come without a proper party!
The best is yet to come: WAPPU
Marking the end of the academic year, as well as the transition to summer for many students, Wappu might be the most important happening in Finnish student culture. Celebrated on Labour Day, May 1st (“Vappu” in Finnish), Wappu has a long history and comes with a carnival-like spirit of festivity. Tampere students’ celebrate their Vappu with a W, and Wappu traditions include for example dipping first-year engineering students in Tammerkoski rapids with a crane (at this time of the year, the water is still pretty cold, believe me!). For this year’s online Wappu, the Student Union TREY and the different student associations are organising a variety of remote events, filling two entire weeks and making theirs the biggest Wappu in Finland this year.
What else is left to mention? Right, Sitsit!
Last but not least, let me tell you about Sitsit! Before I came here, I had no clue Sitsit even existed but they are very characteristic of Finnish student culture: people come together – usually dressed up according to the theme of the Sitsit – are seated alongside long tables and eat and drink together, while also singing songs, playing games and ‘punishing’ participants who break the game masters’ rules with entertaining competitions. Because Sitsit can basically have any theme, they happen all year around (though admittedly not so much in pandemic times).