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The organisers of Laskiaisrieha expect a relaxed student vibe and encounters across university boundaries

Henry Pietilä, Elisa Naskali, Anna Halsas and other members of the Aalto community will organise the Laskiaisrieha event (Shrove Tuesday sledging) in Kaivopuisto for the first time in two years.
Laskiaisrieha 2019-0722 (1)_ Elettra Virtanen.jpg
Laskiaisrieha in 2019, photo: Elettra Virtanen.

The history of Laskiaisrieha spans over decades. Nowadays, it is organised by Vapaateekkarit in cooperation with Aalto University Student Union (AYY). However, the event did not take place in 2021, so on Tuesday 1 March 2022 it will be organised for the first time in two years.

Laskiaisrieha begins at 12:00, and the sledging competition will take place after 13:00. There will be unstructured fun in between: companies and associations will present their activities at their own info points.

Approximately 3 000 students are expected to attend the event, but the final number will also depend on the weather. The event will be followed by the Laskiaisappro pub crawl, and all the tickets have been sold – approximately 1 300 in total.

Aalto students Henry Pietilä and Elisa Naskali, and Aalto alumni Anna Halsas share their views on the Laskiaisrieha event, studying and student life as a whole.

Henry Pietilä, what is special about the Laskiaisrieha event and its atmosphere?

Laskiaisrieha was one of the last big events in 2020, and now the circle will close as we can reorganise the event again. Laskiaisrieha is one of the first events of this size, that can be organized after the pandemic. Last year we decided to skip the event, as the arrangements would have been challenging. We also felt that it was not a responsible thing to do.

Laskiaisrieha is an important event for Vapaateekkarit, and I have enthusiastically jumped onboard to organise it. Vapaateekkarit, despite of the name, is a really multidisciplinary group of students, and the event is in fact organized by students of all the six schools of Aalto. There are about ten of us students working on the event almost on a daily basis. On the day of the event, there will be dozens more volunteers bringing the event to life.

Laskiaisrieha is unique even in the scale of Otaniemi, as it also involves students from the University of Helsinki and elsewhere. The event gives everyone an opportunity to meet students and colleagues. We sledge downhill together and have fun. The sledging hill will be in heavy use if the snow situation permits.

There will be a lot of work to be done on the morning of the event to get the framework set up. When everything is in place, we can just enjoy the action-packed day. More than anything, I am looking forward to the morning of the event.

Elisa Naskali, what kind of event can we expect?

Laskiaisrieha is also important for organisations outside Otaniemi. We will also be joined by associations that may be less active. This year, we will also have outdoor activities, such as a gladiator arena.

Above all, I look forward to the festive atmosphere, spending time together, the activities and a student vibe.

Anna Halsas, you are also involved in the activities of Vapaateekkarit. Could you tell us more?

I help with the arrangements of Laskiaisrieha as much as I can. It is the biggest and most recurring event for Vapaateekkarit. In addition, we organise different types of events according to the wishes of the organizers. One of them is the Wappubussi event.

The WiikonWappuSauna from 2016 is also worth a mention. The world’s largest tent sauna was set up in Alvari Square, and hundreds of people could go into the sauna at the same time. An application was sent to set a Guinness World Record with the sauna, but that was not successful because the tent was not a fixed structure.

Henry Pietilä, what are you studying? How have the times of COVID-19 been for you?

I am a fifth-year student of computer science. Bachelor’s degree I’ve completed in mathematics and systems sciences, computer science as a minor. I’ve also done studies in applied physics. For Master’s degree, I think I will also do minor subject studies in mathematics.

The times of COVID-19 began very quickly. The university has worked hard and listened to feedback from students to make the courses interesting through remote connections. However, some of the courses and teaching methods are poorly suited for distance learning, such as calculation exercises.

I have been actively involved in the Guild of Physics, particularly in 2019. I served as a fuksi captain for English-speaking first-year students when the COVID-19 pandemic started in March 2020. We were distributing hats to the first-year students in Wappu 2020, and everything was a little strange and new.

The coronavirus pandemic has lasted for a long time – roughly half of my student years. I spent my first and second year in completely normal conditions. In a certain way, they are the most active years of student life. You go to a lot of parties and get to know people. However, the student community wants to hold on to its traditions even during exceptional times, although it is a bit hard.

In addition to Laskiaisrieha, I have been involved in organising several major events, such as the annual celebrations of the AYY in autumn 2021 and the Replay event in February 2020. I have always been ready to take on big tasks; in Replay, for example, I was responsible for the practical arrangements of the event.

Elisa Naskali, what are you studying, and how have the coronavirus times affected your studies and student life?

I am a sixth-year student, which means that I started my studies in 2016. I began the Bachelor’s degree by studying computer science, and now I am completing master’s studies in Human-Computer Interaction major in the CCIS program. I ended up studying information technology because I used to like building websites. Later on, I wanted to take my studies in a more people-oriented direction, towards service design.

Remote study often means that the student turns off the camera and falls asleep. Having said that, in some courses there has been an attempt to use the Miro whiteboard so that all students can participate in the teaching in real time.

At the Computer Science Guild, I have taken part in organizing the annual celebrations and as a tutor coordinator I have been welcoming the first English-speaking data science students. Before the coronavirus pandemic, I also took part in organising major events of the student union, such as Dipoli’s Wappu, where the first-year students sang the technology students’ hymn for the first time with their hats on. The difference between now and the times before COVID-19 is pretty big.

People like student culture and want to keep it alive. I was involved in the activities of AYY when the coronavirus hit hard. We used to organise events called Lakinlaskiainen and when we could not organize parties as usual, we introduced new kinds of events outdoors.

My student exchange to Japan was cancelled due to COVID-19, so I ended up going to South Korea on a student exchange in autumn 2021. Even there, the coronavirus situation was worse than ever. Everything took place through remote connections, and you had to wear a mask everywhere. However, the experience was still worthwhile. I wanted to spend time in a very different culture.

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