Maskerad is turned into art by the party crowd

01.10.2018, siiriliitia

In 2018, the Student Union is celebrating the Year of Art. Throughout the year, we invite various creative individuals or groups within the Aalto community to talk about their art. In October, TOKYO talks about the artistic past and present of the annual Maskerad party.

Maskerad party crowd at 2016’s party themed Knights of Hearts

Maskerad is the annual ball of TOKYO, i.e. the students of Arts and Design at Aalto University.

Unlike the more traditional annual balls, Maskerad is not an academic sit-down event but a masquerade to which all Aalto people are warmly welcome. This year, Maskerad will be organised on Saturday 27 Oct in Kellohalli at Teurastamo with the theme FairytaleForestFire.

The Maskerad tradition has its roots in the early 1900s. Back then, the masquerade was known as the Ateneum Maskerad after the place where our learning institute was then located. According to rumours, the tradition came to an end in the 1950s as the party crowd of Maskerad had along the years managed to get barred from every restaurant in Helsinki.

In the early 2000s, TOKYO decided to resurrect Maskerad. Based on our school’s new address, the Ateneum Maskerad became the Arabia Maskerad, and each year’s party was given a different theme.

This year, the Arabia prefix has been left out of Maskerad’s name as if to symbolise the fact that we have finally left the Arabia campus behind us. Who knows, maybe Maskerad will be given a new prefix next year.

In 2011, the party had a Retro Sci-fi theme

It is attempted to always keep the themes of Maskerad current, either in relation to our student organisation or the surrounding world. TOKYO’s last year as an independent student union, for example, was celebrated with a Maskerad with the theme ‘Vive L’Art!’ (Long Live Art!).

This year’s theme, FairytaleForestFire, can be interpreted by each and everyone as they see fit. For us, the theme was inspired by climate change. This year, everyone has been talking a lot about the very dry and forest-fire-prone summer. Is global warming true – or only a fairy tale?

As part of the Otaniemi Night of Arts campus festival on Saturday 6 Oct, TOKYO is organising the Maskerad history exhibition, that is, an overview of the history of Maskerad.

There will be posters, photographs, videos and costumes on show from years gone by. At the exhibition’s opening at Otaniemi Night of Arts, this year’s official Maskerad poster will also be revealed and the ticket sales started for the actual event.

The theme in 2015 was The Grand Illusion

Maskerad is art, because its attendees make it art.

Each year, the party crowd spend countless hours planning and constructing their costumes based on their personal interpretations of the theme. The best works of art are rewarded at the evening’s highlight, the costume competition in which all party guests get to see everyone else’s interpretation of the theme. The variety and creativity of the costumes is an incredible experience that continues to amaze year after year.

Heidi Kivistö
TOKYO Board member

Polytechnical Students’ Museum: 60 years of world-class greatness

25.9.2018, siiriliitia

This autumn, the Otaniemi Polytechnical Students’ Museum celebrates its 60th anniversary with appropriate elation and activity. But what on earth is the Polytechnical Students’ Museum?

In her blog text, Museum Director Tiina Metso transports the reader from the moments of the Museum’s birth to the current day and explains how the best Teekkari Museum in the world is operated and developed.

A poster inviting volunteers to help at the Museum in 1957/58

A Museum is a window to a community that displays both the past and the present. A museum must look like its makers, not like a distressing mausoleum. At best, a museum is an exhibition that brings different people together and in which conversations are had, connections made and celebratory moments enjoyed. In the words of Snoopy, a museum offers “food for thought.”

The Polytechnical Students’ Museum, also known as the Teekkari Museum, has been offering diverse glimpses of the past via objects and especially stories for the last six decades. Preferably accompanied by joyous laughter.

The road to the current basement museum has not been straightforward. The museum was born in 1957 as a result of volunteer work at the old Poly (i.e. the Student Union of the Helsinki University of Technology’s old building on Lönnrotinkatu); its age is counted onwards from the appointment of the first Museum committee a year later. It is fun to see that the first Museum already displayed various traffic signs and logos that had been grabbed along the way. Apparently, some things never change.

The journey has gone from the Harbour City via the mini exhibition located in the brand-new student centre Dipoli’s Klondyke to finding a permanent home in the vibrant heart of the Teekkari village. Water damages have been escaped to the old bank facilities of Otakaari 11 and even to the bike cellar in Otaranta. Another escape is ahead already in spring 2019.

From the beginning, the basic idea and bright guiding star of the Museum has been collaboration, whether in renovating the facilities, collecting materials or celebrating important events. Every involved volunteer has always found their own place and purpose as part of the bigger group.

When dealing with larger undertakings, the Museum invites the community to help, and this call has always been answered generously. In the Museum’s previous renovations, hundreds of volunteer hours were donated in the fair spirit of communal work. That is why the Museum is the community’s Museum, where the most valuable thing is doing things yourself and together.

The Museum evolves through changing times. The community surrounding it is changing, adapting and becoming more communal. That is why the Museum must also reflect the current age, just like its operators. Considering what is ahead is also an important part of evolvement and development. That is why the Museum is determined to recruit and train new guides and other museum operators. Without them, the Museum would be a lifeless storage facility.

There is more truth to the slogan ‘the best Teekkari Museum in the world’ than people think. The Museum is a member of the International Council of Museums ICOM, according to whose information it is the only student-owned and operated museum in the world. At the same time, it is the world’s only museum focusing solely on student culture.

The achievement of world-class greatness is the fruit of the labour of several generations of Teekkaris and thousands of volunteers that gives joy to thousands of visitors annually. The Museum’s collections are growing and supplemented all the time. This is thanks to all donors and object hunters. Each donation and acquisition is received with gratitude.

Such a unique museum deserves to be celebrated with joy and large crowds. That is why the Museum’s 60th anniversary will be celebrated on the premises on Saturday 6 Oct at 2–5 pm. The celebrations are part of the programme of the Otaniemi Night of Arts campus festival. In addition to refreshments, the programme features greetings from the Museum’s early years and fun vignettes with the mysterious headline ‘That’s me in this photo!’

We wish you heartily welcome!!

In Otaniemi in September 2018

Tiina Metso
Museum Director

It is all about Europe

17.9.2018, siiriliitia

How is the European Union doing right now, eight months before the European elections? The biggest democracy event of the world is more than half a year away, but it is worth starting to talk about it now at Aalto, too.

The AYY Board visited Brussels in the summer to share with EU decision-makers what is going on with Aalto students and to discuss EU collaboration and the Union’s topical themes, such as globalisation, circular economy and digitalisation. Our entourage also featured a delegation from our partner student union from Tsinghua, with whom we met e.g. Commissioner Jyrki Katainen.

A lot has happened since the EU parliamentary elections in 2014.

The economy of the EU area is growing again, but the unity of the Union has been tested by both the refugee crisis and the unforeseen withdrawal process of a member state. Despite the tensions, the Brexit negotiations have reminded Europeans of how much the EU affects our daily lives.

The ability of us EU members to take for granted the free movement of people, thoughts and things is unique. The central values of the EU are also a prerequisite for world-class educational and research collaboration in the international Aalto community.

According to a recent survey conducted by Taloustutkimus, 89 per cent of young Finns identify themselves as citizens of the European Union, and 81 per cent consider EU membership a good thing.

The survey also highlights the role of the EU as a resolver of global challenges. Our biggest societal challenges, such as climate change and major changes in working life, will not be resolved on a national level.

In the upcoming European elections, a new European Parliament will be elected that is responsible for EU legislation alongside the European Council consisting of the member states’ governments. Hence, Finland’s direction in terms of the EU will also be defined in the national parliamentary election, which also takes place next spring.

The winning party of the elections will lead not only Finland but also Europe: the future ministers will take charge of the EU during Finland’s Presidency period in autumn 2019 and will have the opportunity to influence the Union’s direction. Finland’s future Commissioner will most likely also be decided based on the parliamentary election results.

In other words, it is worth considering the whole election spring as an entity – our collective future will be built on all levels of decision-making.

So, now is the time for the student generation to announce what kind of a future we want.

During the autumn and the beginning of next year, AYY intends to prepare for the election spring by bringing up various future topics considered important by students. What kind of a Europe would you want? The decisions made now will have the most impact on our opportunities, in particular.

Rosa Väisänen
Advocacy Specialist: international affairs and new students

Creating the future at work!

10.9.2018, ottobergius

What does it feel like to work for Symbio?

We asked our Junior UI/UX Designer Valentin to tell more about his experiences about Symbio as a workplace. Read his thoughts about joining Symbio as a Junior Designer after graduating from university.

“Feels great! I really like the atmosphere here and the projects I’m working on are super up-to-date and interesting. Plus, I get to do what I love, which is combining technology, design and innovation in unexpected ways. I like to think I’m creating a future even my kids might use some day.”

Support, encourage, interact

“Life as a UI designer? Most of the time I work independently. But I can always turn to my team members for help and that all-important second opinion. We support each other, come up with new solutions together and interact through our work. Sharing the same office space with nice, friendly people also makes the grind part of any job more fun!”

“When it comes to my future, I meet with my managers regularly to discuss what I should be doing in terms of professional development and further learning. They know what they’re talking about because they’re right there, doing the same things I do.”

Changing an entire ecosystem

I’m currently working with a global automotive components manufacturer. They recently decided to create their own ecosystem for the car industry together with Symbio in an innovation lab. The cool part is that they entrusted us with everything – from system and software design to final testing.

If you are looking for launch your career with creative and innovative minds in a modern working environment, tick the Symbio box! You won’t regret it.

Want to know more about working in Symbio?

Get to know our company, culture and career opportunities at

Symbio is a global innovation and R&D service partner with innovation centers in the United States, Finland and China. We help customers to develop high quality IoT solutions and digital services: solutions and services that have not been invented before. For more information about our references, take a look at our websites

Students strongly involved with the development of AYY’s housing services

05.9.2018, siiriliitia

How could student living be made even better? Aalto University Student Union involves its members in developing even more successful housing services.

Students of the Information Technology Program course

The rental of reasonably price student apartments is one of the most essential member services of AYY.

Besides the reasonable price, AYY’s real estate strategy defines other goals for its operations, one of which is the development of communal living and increasing its popularity. It’s an important topic, for even though construction will increase the share of studio apartments in AYY’s apartment portfolio, about one third of the apartments are still shared apartments.

This year, AYY has invested and continues to invest in the development of its housing services in many ways. There have been several small and even bigger updates to our search system Domo during the year, and the development work continues. In spring 2018, AYY became a member of the Finnish Association of Student Housing Organisations, or SOA, and cooperation with other student housing communities has been increased.

Plenty of work is also being done in collaboration with the Student Union’s members. In summer 2018, AYY joined forces with Aalto University in the form of the Information Technology Program course. As part of the course, a group of students surveyed the current situation of AYY’s housing services by interviewing residents and employees, for example.

In addition, the group researched other operators’ housing services, came up with new service ideas and thought of ways to highlight the benefits offered by communal living.

During the project, two significant issues in need of development came up: communication about the alternatives of communal living already at the application stage, and supporting the occupants in making the apartments’ communal spaces comfortable and more home-like.

Later this year, AYY will organise an even wider survey of its members’ experiences and wishes. The member questionnaire will be sent out in the autumn and will focus on housing and member services. Here in the Student Union’s housing team, we’re already excited to hear the results and ideas coming to us via the questionnaire. We’ll definitely put them to good use when planning next year’s operations.

AYY houses several small and bigger communities whose occupants are comfortable in their apartments, and the spaces look like their occupants. We at the Student Union will continue to work towards producing even more happy communities in the future.

Riitu Nuutinen
AYY Service Manager

Equality belongs to everybody

31.8.2018, siiriliitia

With a new semester beginning, it’s good to think about what kind of a community we want to be for our new students.

Many are nervous about the first day. New students are wondering how they’ll be received in their new university. We who are already here need to take responsibility for our community being as open, safe, inclusive and equal as possible to everyone here as well as all newcomers.

Aalto University Student Union wants to keep discussions on equality matters open both among the student community and at the University, so that we can all work together towards an even better community.

Equality work is always present in the everyday of AYY. The Student Union has a harassment contact person service that students facing harassment situations can contact for help and advice. The AYY experts advise and train student tutors and active association members on equality matters. This autumn, AYY is also campaigning against all kinds of harassment occurring amongst the student community.

To while away a summer’s day, I asked the Aalto President Ilkka Niemelä for his thoughts on equality. Take a look at the video clip of our chat.

Wishing an amazing new semester to the entire Aalto community,

Noora Vänttinen
Chair of the AYY Board

Welcome to Espoo – let’s develop the community together!

30.8.2018, ottobergius

Why did you come to Finland?

I’ve heard that’s the question people with foreign background are most often asked here. I’m not going to ask that. Of course you came to Finland! It’s the happiest country in the world with top quality education and a super active student culture. We have fresh air, lush nature (and snow!), room to breathe and to develop yourself. Now it’s up to you to make the most of your journey in the land of Nokia, Rovio and Junction (all from Espoo, by the way)!

I’m especially happy you chose to study in Espoo! Espoo is the second largest city in Finland (with 279,044 inhabitans, to be precise) and you’re one of the about 18,500 students in town. Innovation is a word you cannot avoid when talking about Espoo – we’re home to the biggest innovation ecosystem in Northern Europe, Espoo Innovation Garden, and we were named the Most Intelligent Community in the World in 2018. Not bad, eh?

Maybe the best thing about the innovation ecosystem in Espoo is that it’s strongly based on the idea of cooperation, peer-support and community, so don’t hesitate to get involved. Your journey into the community might start in the student organizations, continue to the startup scene, evolve to masters thesis work at one of the research organizations or companies, and before you notice, you’ve decided to stay here. All it takes is a curious mind, an active attitude, and building your networks from the day one.

Espoo is one of the most international cities in Finland – currently home to 155 different nationalities. According to estimations, the amount of foreign language speakers in Espoo will double by 2030, when we’ll have 30% of the working age population not speaking Finnish or Swedish as their mother tongue. We encourage everyone to learn Finnish or Swedish, as it makes integration into the job market and into the society much easier, but we also want it to be easy to settle down in Espoo and to use the services you are entitled to as our resident.

In 2017, the city council made the decision to introduce English as one of the languages of service in Espoo. We’re the first city in Finland to do this, and as there is no guide book for a process this size, we need your help. Please share your ideas and experiences about public services (e.g. health care, libraries, sport venues) and help us develop a city that works for everyone. The survey is open until 10.9.2018.

Kiitos paljon, and once again, a warm welcome to Espoo. we’re happy you decided to study here!

Milla Ovaska

The writer works as the Head of International Affairs in the City of Espoo and her favourite lunch spot in Otaniemi is in Dipoli. See you around!

P.S. My colleagues at VisitEspoo would get angry at me if I forgot to mention how awesome nature and culture Espoo has! National park, island hopping, museums and activity parks can all be found at

The Year of Arts: The creative art of pole dancing

20.8.2018, siiriliitia

In 2018, Aalto University Student Union is celebrating the Year of Art. Throughout the year, we invite various creative individuals or groups within the Aalto community to talk about their art. In August, we hear from the pole dance association Otanko.

Image: Assi Vainikka

Otanko, or the Otaniemi pole dance association, was founded precisely three years ago by a group of pole dance enthusiasts. The association organises weekly pole dancing classes and other related activities for its members, while non-members can enjoy their performances or try out the sport for themselves. At the moment, Otanko has around 150 members and 12 instructors.

The association operates within the Aalto University Student Union, but the atmosphere of their dance classes is most interdisciplinary: the group also features several students from the University of Helsinki, for example. There’s absolutely no need to have previous experience of pole dancing to take part in the activities. Classes are offered from beginner level onwards, and more than half of the current instructors began their own pole dance careers by taking Otanko classes.

Pole dance is an art form that combines dance and acrobatics, with its moves revolving around a vertical pole that’s around 45 mm thick.

The sport has its roots in Chinese pole – a circus skill developed before the Common Era – and in the Mallakhamb sport originating in 12th-century India. In both of these, the vertical pole around which the athletes perform tricks is thicker and coarser than the pole used today.

In its current form, pole dance is still a young sport. The first studio was founded in the 1990s. There are constantly new moves, techniques and expression methods being developed which, compared to sports established longer ago, enables pole dancers to use a great deal of creativity even in world championship competitions.

Audiences can see pole dance performances at various events, for example, as well as in pole dance competitions all year round. In addition, the internet – especially Instagram and YouTube – offer a nearly endless supply of videos to watch. Anyone interested in the sport is welcome to pop in on one of Otanko’s beginners’ classes, for example, to see if pole dance is for them. There are also several commercial pole dance studios in the metropolitan area, in which you can try out the sport.

Most people coming to our classes have discovered pole dance while looking for new challenges in the field of exercise and ways to express themselves through dance. Indeed, a typical pole dancer has an athletic or a dance background, although this is by no means a necessity. The sport is fascinating because even beginners are able to do and express a lot, yet even the best of dancers still has plenty more to learn.

What many find particularly inspiring about pole dance is the way that movement and expression on the pole are not restricted by having to stand on your feet: on the pole, you move in the air while your body is supported by nearly all of your body parts in turn. Often the most attractive moves are indeed performed high up in the air with all limbs free to create beautiful lines.

Pole dance is art, just like all other art forms incorporating dance and acrobatics. It can be used to evoke emotions, tell stories and express the dancer’s inner world.

At the moment, pole dance differs from other dance genres especially in the way it enables the athletes to use an exceptional amount of creativity even in the very highest levels of competition. There’s not just one correct method of expression or atmosphere for a pole dance choreography, and in addition to combining the established basic moves, dancers have plenty of room to come up with their own unique moves. An objectively right or wrong way to pole dance simply doesn’t exist.

Sara Ikonen
President of Otanko ry

The students of the future will live on basic income

20.7.2018, heikkiisotalo

If we want the Student Union to have an actual impact on things, it must be present in the places where the social debate takes place. This can be done at SuomiAreena, a week-long event in Pori that brings together Finnish decision-makers, the media and those interested in politics. Two members of the AYY Board and two AYY employees will take part in the event.

The cross-party panel Social Security of Tomorrow – New, Old or Recycled? took an in-depth look into the problems of the social security system. However, the role of students in the possible reforms was neglected almost entirely. This question is of the utmost importance, however.

In addition to their studies, students are expected to work in their own field, establish startup companies and acquire social skills through volunteering. At present, the study grant alone is not enough for studying, but it is also difficult to make work and the students’ low income limits match. The general housing allowance, on the other hand, is dependent on the possible spouse’s income (or in the worst case scenario, the income of one’s roommate, who is considered as a spouse), which in practice creates a maintenance liability, which is poorly suited to the values of the 2010s. This is a difficult equation.

On top of this, the Finnish higher education system does not recognize part-time studying. 86 percent of higher education students consider themselves to be full-time students, whereas 14 percent consider themselves to be part-time students. We are not talking about students working as a cashier at the local store: 53 percent of students say that their work is related closely or quite closely to the content of their own degree programs.

One solution to the above-mentioned challenges would be a step-by-step transition to a basic income system.

AYY supports gratuitous basic income, which would also include means-tested parts. Even when implemented in a cost-neutral way, basic income would reduce bureaucracy and preserve the basic function of social security as a safety net. As a first step in the transition to the basic income model, social security should be made individual-based: housing allowance, social assistance and labor market subsidy should be personal and independent of the possible spouse’s income.

It is up to the new Government to overhaul the income system, and the perspective of the students must also be taken into account. It is not just about how many euros everyone will get. It is about whether Finland can bring up people that lead the economy and change the world also in the future. We can achieve this by improving student well-being.

Try out the Student Simulator and see what kind of challenges related to income students have to face.

Lauri Seppäläinen
Member of the Board

Chinese lessons for the Aalto community

11.6.2018, siiriliitia

The previous and current boards of the Aalto University Student Union visited China and South Korea to get to know the local student community. In this blog post the Board members open their experiences on the trip.

AYY’s delegation in Beijing

The first week of AYY’s China visit was spent mostly in Shanghai (our Student center delegation spent this week in South Korea, read the blog post) and the second in Beijing, entertained as guests of the Tsinghua university.

The purpose of the trip was to expand views of the participants, and through that the Student Union’s, on the scope of universities and student unions beyond Finnish borders. China offered excellent opportunities for this, due to the differences in cultures.

One of the big lessons on the trip was that despite the differences China and Finland have, both struggle with the same kinds of problems regarding studies. Good examples include getting the international students integrated into the student community and keeping up good negotiating conditions to the universities.

The solutions, however, differ between the two countries. So, the goals of” sharing best practices” and” benchmarking” succeeded well. Expanding your point of view and getting to know various kinds of solutions will be sure to refresh AYY’s activities in the future.

Our delegation simultaneously improved their skills in working in a global atmosphere, meaning learning to account for cultural differences and using different languages in discussing both heavier and lighter topics.

Internationalizing is a key factor in the modern world. What we learned will help us better to act in our ever so increasingly international Student Union, and the message spreads to other actives in the Aalto community.

We had the pleasure of getting to know our hosts, the Tsinghua uni. staff and political figures during various events. We also got to know several corporate companies along with distinct culturally valuable landmarks and places.

Shanghai is an especially interesting center of commerce in China, where we had the opportunity to see the opportunities Finnish people can have in China, and in return bring a Finnish point of view to China and its environs.

Both our trip to China and the upcoming Chinese trip to Europe is being aimed to be funded mainly with outside grants, funds and corporate cooperation. The goals of the trip were tied in many ways on corporate life.

China is an interesting business venture for Finnish and other western companies, meaning it is a potential site for a future career to students of Aalto University. Thus, bringing AYY, the Aalto community and Aalto itself known in a positive way in China is important.

We hope that cooperation will be the edge we need in the future, giving us a better opportunity to succeed in one of the largest economies in the world.

Western interest in general towards China also opens new opportunities for the Student Union in corporate cooperation and enables several important and noteworthy meetings with decision-makers both in Finland, Europe and in China. The meetings will then create new opportunities for the advocacy work our Student Union does.

Finnish students caps on the Great Wall of China

Each trip is of course countered with a return trip, with us acting as hosts. We are anxiously anticipating our esteemed Chinese guests to Finland, so we can expand their knowledge of European university education and AYY’s activities!

Mikael Liimatainen
AYY board member (internationality)

Julius Luukkanen
AYY board member (artistic activities, brand, communications, archives and museum)