HOAS Smokes Finnish Students Out
The Helsinki Area Student Housing Foundation (HOAS) sent out a letter on February 10 to several Finnish residents of the student apartment known as “Cubile” in Viikki. Viikki is home to the University Faculty of Agriculture, located in Eastern Helsinki about 20 minutes from downtown. The letter declared that HOAS was sorry to inform them that their apartment was needed for other purposes due to a change in operations. Toivo Vainiontalo of the Helsinki University Real Estate Division explains the situation, “Cubile was built in 1993 under the understanding that one-third of its residents would be Finns, one-third international students and the remaining third would lodge at the research hotel.”
Susanna Hakkarainen, Director of Customer Services in HOAS, explains that HOAS hopes to avoid evicting anyone. “The letter is simply an inquiry, looking for those that would like to voluntarily move to another HOAS location.”
Vainiontalo believes that may prove problematic, “There is very low turnover at Cubile. Of course it is good that residents are happy there, but we have to make more room for incoming international students, as was originally planned.” He continues, “Housing for international students is a huge problem each year for the university. We have several times been forced to rent private apartments on their behalf just to get a roof over their heads.”
A current Finnish resident of Cubile is upset by the news, “This certainly won¦t help relations between Finns and foreigners in Viikki. What I can¦t understand is why they would bring international students that most likely will study downtown out here and move those of us that study here in Viikki somewhere else?”
The World Is Indeed Getting Smaller
The Centre for International Mobility (CIMO) was founded by the Ministry of Education years ago to better serve international student exchange in Finland. This year¦s CIMO statistics show that 7,500 students are leaving for study abroad next semester. The EU sponsored Erasmus exchange program continues to be among the most popular exchange facilitator. This number has gone up by 20% from just one semester prior.
Of all of the institutes of higher education in Finland, the Sibelius Academy has shown the greatest growth, with student exchanges up by 62%. Helsinki University numbers increase by 17%. The number of students going abroad is not final however, 33% dropped out last year before departure.
It appears as if the study abroad trend will continue as well. The EU has contributed an additional 70 million ecu or 400 M FIM to the Socrates program under which Erasmus operates. This additional money means a 15 to 20% increase in operating funds.
A Flair For The Dramatic In English
English department lecturer Matti Kilpiö feels that learning lingers in one¦s memory longer when it is hands on. For this reason, he and the rest of the department have arranged and funded the Chester Plays. The Chester Plays are a re-enactment of a series of Biblical plays performed in Chester, England in the 1500s. English department students are the actors, receiving two and a half credits for participation in the project.
The project included lectures on the subject, the play itself and an essay to be written after the performances. Despite the amount of work, the participants are enthused. Katri Meronen, playing the demanding role of God, studies translation and interpretation. She is happy to report that “This is completely different than regular studies.” Anna Taskinen and Teemu Vassi, angels in the play, wish that there were more courses like it.
A lot of research has gone into Chester Plays, the troupe has tried to stay as loyal to the 400 year old plays as possible. The British Council even funded expert lecturers from England to fly in and teach the participants. The Sibelius Academy has agreed to provide authentic period music for the performance. The original English as it was pronounced in the 1500s had to be dropped, however, because chances are the audience wouldn¦t have understood it. Chester Plays will appear in the Great Hall of the Main Building on March 2 and 3 beginning at 6 p.m. Admission is free.
Parties Are A Part of Finnish University History
The Old Student House at Manner-heimintie 3, known in student circles as Vanha, is a Helsinki landmark dating back to 1870. Already in 1880, the student union was in financial straits and was forced to rent the building to outsiders for profit. At first, Vanha was used for respectable functions, but as the 1900¦s approached, working classes dances had people worrying about “the motherland giving a house to its hope for the future, just to be used by the frolicking public.”
In 1910 the New Student House, Uusi, was finished and most of the student parties were moved across the square. Clubrooms offered entertainment around the clock, although alcohol was supposedly off-limits. When drunken students were confronted with their behavior, they would use the same excuse they use today: parties were a good way to raise money.
The 1919 Prohibition Act in Finland was meant to sober up the nation, but it seemed to have the opposite effect on students. The 20s were plagued by the Curator from the Häme Student Nation who took it upon himself to personally confiscate all the liquor he found in the building regularly.The war years were quiet because most of the male students were off fighting. When the boys came home, the parties resumed.
The 60s and 70s were radical days of free love and non-conformity. Custodians complained of stairways filled with “vomit, urine and empty bottles.” In the early 70s, the student interest group for students of the social sciences, Kannunvalajat, started up its own club, which the police eventually cracked down on after hearing about the use of drugs. Parties until dawn continued throughout the 80s, until the closing time for restaurants in the city was extended. Still in the 90s, the famous parties after the monthly faculty exams and a few other mega-parties have continued to fill Uusi to the brim. A league of appointed bouncers that abstain for the night has kept the atmosphere more ruley, however.