Orientation week through physics freshman student Milla’s eyes

How was the arientation weeh from the perspective of a freshman? Read Milla's thoughts from the first week of university life.
Milla seisoo Amfiteatterin portaalla
Milla Laurikkala started her studies in Aalto University in September 2019.

My name is Milla, I am a 19-year-old freshman, a first-year student at Aalto University. Last spring, I graduated from Ressu Upper Secondary School and decided to apply for Aalto University in the field of engineering physics and mathematics. Aalto was a natural choice for me because I did not want to move to another city and Aalto offered quality teaching on topics that interest me. I chose engineering physics and mathematics because I have been interested in those subjects from a young age, and studies in elementary or upper secondary school did not offer enough challenge for me in these subjects.

The spring and summer after the matriculation examination seemed long. Already at the end of June I was looking forward to the beginning of university studies. It would be nice to start learning new things and challenge myself again. Above all, I was looking forward to meeting new people with same interests. On the other hand, I was most nervous about meeting new people and finding my own place and group.

I received the orientation week program in the mail in August and watched it in amazement: every day was filled with events in the evening and in the morning! It seemed like the week would be long and heavy, but hopefully fun too. I was anxious to see if I had the energy to participate in all the events and focus on information lectures as well.

Before the orientation week, a head start event was organized at the University, where freshmen and tutors got to meet each other. I was very nervous on my way to Otaniemi but soon after arriving I found familiar people to chat with. The freshman captain also came to say hello and my nervousness faded quickly. The event was a very pleasant experience and my expectations for the orientation week increased even more.

Monday came soon and the day was filled with new places, people and new information. I was surprised by how many freshmen there were: more than one hundred students began their major studies in engineering physics and mathematics, and a multiple number of students began their studies in the entire School of Science! Every day during the orientation week, I met new people, many of whom I had not even seen in previous days. It felt nice because I had never met so many smart people at one time, and I could choose my friends from among them.

Every day during the orientation week, there were events according to the schedule. We visited Kiljava camp centre, partied at Aalto Afterparty, played games with other physics freshmen, orienteered in Otaniemi and hang out with our own group of freshmen and tutors. In my opinion, the best experiences were Otaniemi orienteering, where were walked around Otaniemi and completed different tasks organized by various associations, as well as board games organized by my tutors. It was nice to have the time to get to know my own group and spend time with a few people that I knew a bit better. In addition, hanging out in a small group was a nice contrast to all the parties and excursions in the evenings.

The week also included so-called official program, such as information lectures and the meetings of contact persons and various persons in charge. We also had the opportunity to sign up for the first period courses, and it was only when I chose the courses did I realize that there were no Finnish, history or other courses that I disliked in elementary or upper secondary school, and I would never have to study those subjects again. I had been waiting for this for a long time! In the lectures, they talked a great deal about how university studies differ from upper secondary school. Many speakers warned that you should not choose too many courses in one period and not strain yourself by demanding perfectly good results, but rather focus on recovery and rest. In addition, they told us that much of the time at the university is spent on independent study instead of lectures. It came as a surprise that university studies require so much work and it is possible to experience a burn out, as my own visions of the university mainly consisted of parties and the fact that it is not compulsory to attend lectures.

Now, at the end of the orientation week, I am tired but satisfied. The week exceeded my expectations, even though there were a little bit too many events in my opinion. It seems that I have found a community where I feel comfortable, and I am excited about the next week when my studies and the first courses will start.

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