BTSB Freshman’s guide
Dear Freshmen and whoever stumbles upon this magical piece of writing, welcome to the life of the English student. This article is meant to be a cover-all guide for surviving the freshman year. We, two second-year English majors, have gathered our best tips and advice on how to manoeuvre your first year in the university, and we do hope you find it useful. Or at least somehow entertaining.
HOW TO... SOCIALIZE
“They say that if you make one friend on your first day, you’re doing okay.”
“Thank you sir, but if my English teacher is the only friend I make today, that would be sort of depressing.”
The key to the first day of school, just like in kindergarten, is making friends. Even Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower knew this, but what he did not know is that if you’re in the English department, the above does not apply. Our teachers are awesome, so suck it Charlie!
Nonetheless, friends are required to take your year in the university to the maximum level of awesome. You need them for study groups, for reserving the best seats at lectures, and of course for mental health support – there’s nothing like suffering together!
Here are a few tips for making friends (in case your momma never taught you):
Get involved in student life.
Student organizations like SUB ry (for English students) and Humanisticum ry (for all the students at the Faculty of Arts) are always happy to welcome you as their member. They throw the best parties, organize the coolest events, and also look after their students’ rights.
You can also apply for a position on a student organization board, and be at the very centre of action!
SUB’s sub-organizations are plentiful: there’s SUB culture, SUB sports, Better Than Sliced Bread (you’re looking at it), and many more – there’s something for everyone.
What comes to making friends, be as active as you’re physically able to during the first weeks, as that is when groups of friends start to form. But worry not if you missed out on orientation week, because as long as you’re willing to take the first step and say hello, you will for sure find friendly faces and acquire friendships! (N.B. If you see a blonde girl with a fitness headband, approach with caution.)
HOW TO... ACTUALLY STUDY
“There’s plenty of sense in nonsense sometimes, if you wish to look for it.”
Yes, studying commas and quotations can sometimes feel like nonsense, but according to William Herondale in Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel, it’s pretty much up to you to discover the importance in our wonderfully nerdy studies.
In all honesty, as much as you’d like to think that you will attend every lecture and get perfect scores on every exam, get prepared to face the truth: most likely, you along with 80 per cent of the freshmen won’t make it to the majority of the lectures. Student life can get a bit tiring from time to time, and it’s alright to sleep in sometimes. You also need to recognize your personal ways of studying – if you learn best on your own, why bother going to every single lecture. However, do note that some lectures have mandatory attendance – those ones you don’t want to miss. But if you feel that in case you stay home, you will just watch Netflix the whole day, then, by all means, do attend the lecture.
The most important thing about studying at university is to give it your all and enjoy the great opportunities to learn from top-class professors -- but don’t forget to give yourself some slack. Please remember that sleep and downtime is important!
Here are some tips for studying:
You don’t need to write everything down, because the slides will be on Moodle anyways.
Start early with your assignments; you will not be able to complete everything from 6 or more courses in one night or even a couple of days. It can also be helpful to work on your assignments with friends.
Exam weeks equal holiday!
Pick low effort courses from Kielikeskus (the courses are pass or fail). Also, studying new languages is great fun!
Remember that you need to do 45 study credits per year in order to have student benefits from KELA.
Learn to use the mighty Moodle, as frustrating as the site may sometimes be. Our best tip for using Moodle is to learn how to edit the page, that is, organize the courses in the order that you want to, and delete the ones you’ve already completed, from the front page.
No one has the time to check their helsinki.fi email account as often as they should, so redirect your emails from the account to your personal one.
You can buy used books on SUB’s Facebook page, SUB Second Hand and HY Market Place. If you want to buy them new, you can get a student discount from Adlibris.
Ask your HOPS advisor if you have any questions related to studying.
HOW TO... EXCEL AT STUDENT LIFE
"I know that the whole point – the only point – is to find the things that matter, and hold on to them, and fight for them, and refuse to let them go." –Lauren Oliver, Delirium
Here are some practical tips that we wish we had known at the beginning of our freshman adventure:
Always ask for student discount (especially in cafés). Also check your student calendar for coupons.
Here are a few places we know for sure you’ll get a discount:
Coffee shops: Steam Coffee, Fazer Café, Picnic (Kluuvi), Ciao Café (the ones near the campus).
Transport & travel: VR, HSL, Kilroy, Hotels.com.
Stores: K-market Postitalo, Clas Ohlson, Ruohonjuuri (ask your local shop for details), R-kioski, Nissen, Kondomishop.
Culture: National theatre, Finnkino (on weekdays only).
Restaurants: Rax, O'Leary's (check locations).
Other: Fortum, F-Secure.
Unicafé is your friend. We recommend to visit all of them around the campuses, as they offer different options! For example, Unicafé Metsätalo has this delicious tradition called Pizzaperjantai – it’s as good as it sounds, pizza (vegan and vegetarian options available) on Fridays!
You can track public transport on HSL live (we tested it, it works).
Know your campus:
There is a super handy elevator from Kaisaniemi metro station to Kaisa library.
You can also buy cheap coffee at Kaisaniemi R-kioski.
There is a fast route from Unicafé Metsätalo to the A wing of the building, as well as a shortcut from Kaisa library to Porthania.
There’s always a long line for bathrooms at Metsätalo (especially for the ladies’ room), but don’t you worry, because you can just take a handy trip downstairs and you’ll find dozens of vacant stalls in the very back of the dining hall.
Ask your tutors to know the best tips for campus life!
HOW TO... OVERALLS
"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." –John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Know how to use your overalls – or don’t use them at all! In spite of Steinbeck’s very wise words, this is very serious business, and you gotta use your overalls correctly.
Just kidding, but if you want to know how it’s done the proper way, here are our tips:
Get a belt for your overalls (important).
Do NOT glue your overall patches – even if you’re feeling lazy. The right way is to sew them on.
Do NOT leave the sleeves hanging (check picture).
Do NOT use patchless overalls.
Do NOT wash your overalls, ever. Or you’ll lose all street cred.
Make sure our dear friend Shakespeare is visible at all times. He’s not printed on there just for fun.
When picking your overalls, always take one size bigger than you would normally. You will see that for student life purposes, it’s better that they are comfortable, long enough, nice and baggy, so that you’re not cold in winter and have enough space for all of your patches, as well as warm clothes underneath. Go big or go home!
Below you can see how to wear your overalls like a pro!
HOW TO... TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
"It's just that… I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It's the universe's way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It's how life is." –Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever
Student life can be fun and exciting, but health issues can really be a downer. Luckily, Finnish Student Health Service or YTHS offers free healthcare services – general, mental and dental – so don’t hesitate to give them a call in case there is a need for a checkup.
Here are some more detailed tips:
Self is an online service of YTHS where you can book and manage your appointments (note that a phone call is the best option for urgent matters).
In addition to the services Finnish Student Health Service offers, you can also see a psychologist specialized on student issues for free at one of HY’s campuses, or talk to a university pastor, if you have something on your mind that you would like to talk about with a professional (but are living on a student budget).
Above all, be sensible and know your limits; you don’t have to attend every party if it means compromising your time to rest, and you don’t have to do more than 45 study credits per year if it feels like too much.
And now, get back to studying, or partying – both are good options! But seriously, welcome to our lovely university and best of luck with your studies.
By: Elina Virva and Danielle Amorim