Over the coming weeks you are going to be hearing a great deal about something called 'NMES.' NMES (pronounced 'eNeMiES') stands for the 'National Meeting of English Students', and it is quite simply the most wonderful thing ever invented. Each year, English students from all over Finland gather in the host city in order to spend a fantastic weekend together partying, singing, making new friends and all in all having an amazing time. This year, Helsinki has been given the honour of acting as the host city for NMES. 2012 also marks the twentieth anniversary of this event, however it is perhaps only within the past five years or so that NMES has truly come into its own. Helsinki last acted as host in 2008 when around 70 people were in attendance. Since then, NMES has grown enormously each year, to the point where this year, well over 200 people are expected to participate, including over 150 students from Jyväskylä, Joensuu, Tampere, Turku, Vaasa and Oulu. In fact, NMES has grown so big, that it has now reached the point where it is difficult for everyone who would like to attend to be able to participate.
As a result, BTSB is providing you with the following guide to knowing your NMES 2012 schedule, so that you can maximise your chances of participating in the weekend's various events and activities. (Many details are yet to be finalised, so be sure to keep an eye out for future updates via the SUB mailing list regarding specific times and locations.) Additionally, we’ve put together a collection of some of our own favourite NMES moments from the past, so as to give you a clearer picture of exactly what NMES has to offer. So read on, and prepare yourself to be a part of all the magic that is Helsinki's NMES 2012.
NMES 2012: THE SCHEDULE. * (Times and locations SUBject to change.)
Friday, April 13:
2pm – 4pm: Between 2pm and 4pm, over 150 students from seven different schools around Finland will arrive in Helsinki and begin to settle into their accommodation. SUB members will be there to greet them, and will also meet those coming by train at the railway station, in order to escort them to where they will be staying for the weekend.
7pm: At 7pm the traditional NMES sitsit will begin, which will take place this year at Suomenlinna. The NMES sitsit is a wonderful occasion which involves a great deal of singing, eating, drinking and general merriment. The highlight of the evening is the performance section, in which each school performs a short song, play or some other form of entertainment for everyone in attendance. At the end of the night the school determined to be the winner is announced and awarded the prestigious NMES trophy. Due to the size of the venue this year, places for SUB members will most likely have to be limited. So once sign-ups are announced within the next few weeks, be sure to register as soon as possible if you wish to attend.
12am: The sitsit after-party will take place at around midnight, the venue will also be announced in the weeks ahead. A great opportunity to party with friends old and new – you're more than welcome to attend even if you're unable to make it to the sitsit.
Saturday, April 14:
11am: Breakfast will be served for the tired and most likely hungover guests at their accommodation. SUB will need volunteers willing to prepare the breakfast, so again, keep an eye out for further details in the coming weeks if you would like to help out.
1pm: Time to break out the overalls! At 1pm the traditional NMES lectures will take place, in which staff from the host school deliver what will (hopefully) be funny and entertaining lectures for the benefit of SUB and the visiting students. This year our very own Liz Peterson and Mark Shackleton have kindly agreed to deliver the NMES lectures, so this will be an event not to be missed. Again due to numbers, it's possible that restrictions will have to be placed on the number of SUBbers that are able to attend, so stay tuned for further updates.
6pm: 6pm will see the commencement of the NMES 2012 Amazing Race, where students from all the visiting schools will be mixed up and split into groups, which must then complete a series of tasks at various checkpoints throughout the city. Here all are welcome to take part in the fun – due to the enormous number of guests we will have, SUB will need to arrange a large number of checkpoints in and around central Helsinki. So if the idea of putting on your overalls and hanging out with a group of friends whilst being entertained (and possibly bribed!) by groups of merry English students from all around Finland appeals to you, then be sure to volunteer to help out when help is requested. If you're going solo but still wish to take part, then simply join one of the existing checkpoints – a great time is guaranteed.
9pm: The Amazing Race after-party will take place at Käärmeenpesä in Sörnäinen, all SUBbers are welcome to attend.
Sunday, April 15:
10am: Breakfast will once again be served for our once again tired and hungover guests at their accommodation. Thank your newly made friends for a great NMES weekend by giving them the gift of breakfast.
12pm: Our guests begin to depart to all points of the compass to conclude another fantastic NMES weekend. Come along to say goodbye.
So as you can all hopefully see from this schedule, NMES truly is a great event, with numerous opportunities for getting involved, as a way of both making new friends and having an absolutely terrific time. To further illustrate just how terrific NMES can be, BTSB's staff hereby submit to you some of their favourite and most memorable moments from NMES past...
– NMES 2010 in Jyväskylä was my first NMES outside of Helsinki. I'd been having a fantastic time, but found myself feeling like I was playing it safe by only hanging out with other SUBbers, and I realised that I was wasting a great opportunity to make new friends from other schools. So one morning, in spite of a minor case of nerves, I walked over to a couple of girls from Joensuu and introduced myself. It turned out that one of them was upset because she had lost her camera at the after-party the night before. As luck should have it though, I just happened to have heard that a camera had been found and handed in to the organisers, so I was able to give her the good news. The other girl was Tiia Joensuu, who in addition to becoming the chairperson of Echo (Joensuu's equivalent of SUB) the following year, has also since become one of my dearest friends. But our friendship might never have happened if on that first morning in Jyväskylä I hadn't decided that I needed to start making an effort to meet new people – something that I've been patting myself on the back for ever since. Since then I've made many more great friends from all over Finland at NMES by following the exact same philosophy – to me that is absolutely the best thing about the whole event, and all it takes is just a little effort. Kristian.
– The clock had struck four in the morning and the after party in Turku's Monkey had finally died down. But the night wasn't over for me and a few of my closest friends. The early morning found us in a locker room getting ready to witness the second most obscure and underground performance of The Black Swan. (The performance that tops even this one included cupcakes.) The two boys, who had promised me and a couple of others to do this for us, had barely finished stretching and warming up when the audience of five (including two last minute arrivals who just wanted to know what the hell was going on) sat down. The ballet dancers/narrators gave their all with their (very) free adaptation of the movie into a live show, and we applauded as loudly as we dared as the room above was slowly filling with very sleepy students crawling into their sleeping bags. After the boys had taken their bows, it didn't take long for us to slip into our makeshift beds. Many memorable things happened in Turku, but this is the one that always gets me to mutter "I can't believe that actually happened." Thomas and Nina, you know who you are... Kristiina.
– On the last night of the 2011 NMES in Turku, I didn't go to sleep. Instead, I somehow wound up drinking for 24 hours straight. It was the first time I ever did that and I've yet to do it again but, somehow, despite all of the drinking, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I remember waiting until 9am when the shops in Turku opened so that we could go buy more beers. And I remember feeling too self-conscious about buying nothing but beer at 9 in the morning so, in my infinite drunken wisdom, I bought a pack of candy to go along with it. I remember the bus trip back from Turku and how me and my drunken companion must have been incredibly annoying to everyone else on board. But we didn't care! Because we were drunk! I remember getting back to Helsinki and going to a bar just because we were only mere hours away from hitting the 24 hour mark. Who were we to stop at about 20 hours? At 7pm, I remember that we finally called it quits and I went home to go do my homework for my 10am class the next morning (and, boy, did I get some interesting feedback for that homework...). But the thing that will always stick with me from that NMES experience (besides the fact that “'Twas Epic!”) is the friendship I made that day and the friendships that I strengthened during that crazy weekend. Participating in NMES is a must because it is the place where you really solidify your place as an English student and as a member of SUB, and you can do this without even having a drink if you're so inclined. In my experience, at the risk of sounding extremely cheesy, I discovered a new side to myself during that NMES weekend and I feel like I developed a bond to the English community that I will never lose despite what the future holds for me.
Oh and about that bag of candy... It remains unopened to this day. Jesper.