Information networks brought Ruusu Kukkurainen and Ida Koponen together – podcast hosts talk openly about highs and lows of student life

Ida Koponen and Ruusu Kukkurainen met in the autumn of 2022 when they started their studies at Aalto University. Their ‘Pulpetissa’ podcast is like the Harry Potter series – old topics are revisited from a new angle as studies progress.
Ida Koponen ja Ruusu Kukkurainen. Photos: Oona Hilli / Aalto University

The second season of the ‘Pulpetissa’ podcast started in early November. The podcast's hosts, Ruusu Kukkurainen and Ida Koponen, met each other when they started studying Information Networks in the autumn of 2022. At the Students’ Finnish Independence Procession on 6 December, they decided to start a podcast about the unspoken aspects of student life. To Koponen and Kukkurainen, the best thing about the podcast is that they can grow with it.

‘On the podcast, we provide information on different aspects of student life for those considering university studies. Our podcast also offers peer support to fellow students. A first-year student said we've been like much needed big sisters to her, sharing our experiences with others. It is a wonderful compliment,’ says Koponen.

‘Too often, experiences are shared once the challenges have been overcome. We share our life stories when they happen,’ Kukkurainen says.

In the Pulpetissa podcast, Koponen and Kukkurainen talk about their own application process to university, their studies, prejudices about study culture, everyday life as a student, finances, work, mental health, well-being and student events.

‘I come from Lahti, and moving to a new city to study was a surprisingly big change. Making a living as a student, scheduling everyday life, and the stress associated with studying are things I would have liked to hear more about before starting my studies,’ says Kukkurainen.

‘Our podcast is like the Harry Potter series. The topics may stay more or less the same, but the stage of our studies affects the way we approach things,’ says Koponen.

Listen to your feelings

In the podcast, Koponen talks openly about her depression, which she was diagnosed shortly after starting her studies. She has dropped out of courses. Koponen and Kukkurainen feel that older students have encouraged them to listen to their own feelings. They believe that the study experience should be cherished as a unique experience within the limits of one's own resources.

Ruusu Kukkurainen
Ruusu Kukkurainen.

‘When I started my studies, I assumed that all the students here were superhumans and that studying was competitive. I believed that everyone managed to study on their own. However, fellow students and friends at university have been so supportive. It's been a relief to see that,’ says Kukkurainen.

‘I have felt really safe in this community. Everyone is allowed to be exactly who they are,’ says Koponen.

Ida Koponen
Ida Koponen.

Koponen and Kukkurainen are especially grateful to the Athene Guild, where they have been active for the past year. The guild members have supported them in their studies and in coping with life. Still, among the undergraduates, it has been difficult to talk out loud about their own weaknesses and struggles.

‘It's difficult to recognise and set your own boundaries. Especially if there are assumptions that others around you are feeling well. Then you think you're the only one experiencing challenges. You become blind to your own feelings when you think that studying is supposed to be tough,’ says Kukkurainen.

‘We have received a lot of messages about the mental health episode in the podcast. Other students have praised me for being brave when I talk about my depression out loud. They hadn't noticed my situation from the outside,’ says Koponen.

There is always a human being behind technology

In addition to recognizing your own limits, understanding the strengths, interests and challenges associated with studying has required work. During her studies, Kukkurainen has found that she is particularly interested in understanding the psychology of technology. She applied to study Information Networks because she was interested in its people-oriented approach.

‘What interests me most about technology is that there is always a human being behind it. The interesting thing is how focused our studies are on psychology and human behaviour. That's what I want to focus on in my studies,’ says Kukkurainen.

For Koponen, the first year of studies showed a new direction. In the spring, she will apply to study to become a dentist, which was her dream even prior to the studies in the field of technology. The podcast continues despite the changes.

The first season of the podcast was released last spring, during Kukkurainen’s and Koponen's freshman year. According to Kukkurainen, the year was in every way a year of practice. Starting the second academic year has been different, with things being more familiar. The previous years of study and things said before can be reflected on later as the hosts gain more experience.

Check out and listen to the podcast. (Podcast in Finnish)

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