I first heard about NESU in fall 2012, when I had just started my studies at Turku School of Economics. It was the orientation week, and my tutor told his two friends were in Oulu because they were participating in this thing called “sitz party”. The two had first booked their transportation for the wrong week and had to get new tickets to make it to Oulu, but luckily they made it. This sounded like a weird concept to me, but I was an eager freshman willing to learn, so I asked more questions. So what are they going to do there? How long are they staying? Is this related to school, is the school paying for all the tickets? The answers kind of revealed the guys were basically attending a party for one night and then coming back, paying everything themselves. Right. One final question. “And you consider this fun?” “Yes.” I smiled, nodded, and thought to myself “what idiots”.
Luckily, my tutor had also encouraged us to stay active and learn about all the possibilities that the student clubs have to offer – that way, we could find the things that we like the most. Equipped with this try everything mentality, I went to a NESU info evening where they introduced us to an event called NESU Conference. Since I wanted to experience it all, I decided to apply. Somehow, very soon, there was no going back. I had found the thing that I liked the most.
So later in 2012, I applied for the NESU-TuKY board ’13, but unfortunately, I wasn’t chosen. I also lost the competition for NESU-TuKY chairpersonship next year. Of course it felt bad, but in the end, it didn’t really matter as I could still participate in NESU events and sometimes help the board with organizing events. Later on, I ended up in the organizing team for NESU Spring Conference 2015 and in fall 2016, I was chosen as the next President of NESU. The lesson here is, you really don’t need a specific title or board experience to call yourself a NESUit or to have an impact on the union. Titles are titles and history is history – what really matters is who you are and what you do.
I guess I ended up doing a lot. NESU definitely played a huge role throughout my 6,5 years of studies. I visited every NESU city in Finland at least once and attended 11 NESU Conferences. I have no idea how many sitz parties I have attended, but my guess would be between 100 and 150. I have toured around Finland in a caravan, been to an Icelandic house party and shouted samling in Blue Lagoon, all because of NESU. But above all else, I have made friends from all over NESU cities. And I actually think that it is the best thing NESU can offer – the chance to meet like-minded people you would probably never have met without this organization.
Fast forward to today. I graduated in spring 2019 and currently live and work in Helsinki. I live with two friends from NESU-KY and often meet old NESU friends who also moved to Helsinki after studies. My boss is also a former NESUit. I sometimes even bump into old NESU friends when visiting clients. After a while, you realize that this “networking” is an actual thing instead of being some kind of euphemism for “drinking”.
I tried to picture how my life would be now if I never got into NESU things. It is hard to even image – so much would be taken away. Being active in NESU was probably the single best decision of my whole student time.
And did I consider it fun? Yes.
/ Emmi Vilkanen