En liten fågel satt en gång, och sjöng i furuskog. Han hade sjungit dagen lång, men dock ej sjungit nog.

When I started my studies at the Vasa campus of Hanken back in 2010, we didn’t have NESU (albeit having been one of the first chapters within NESU in the early 1980’s). It had died out roughly 1998 and since then the board of the student association were the ones who received invites to the NESU events around Finland. Having been an active member of our student association, I was invited by our board to attend a “Goes movies”-themed sitsiparty organized by NESU-Waasa in March of 2011. Curiosity got the best of me and I chose to join two hours before the party started. My future boss was the toastmaster and had opted to dress up as Batman. For some reason though, no strong liquor was served at said party and due to a bad seating arrangement and silent neighbours I decided to leave halfway through.

Although having had a rather rough start in my NESU career, I didn’t give up. After attending the annual NESU summer cottage held in Vaasa 2012 (and not leaving halfway through), I realized that this was a fun bunch of people and that Hanken was missing out not being part of it. Having talked with a few SHS students a few months earlier, we started seeking help from NESU-Finland on how to start our own chapters (and succeeding with this within a month). The beginnings was a bit rough, mostly due to the older Hanken students not being too fond of the idea of having a NESU chapter, but we persisted and soon after got our happy little group of NESU actives ready to take on the world.

NESU has given me so much during all these years and most of my happiest memories have involved NESU in one way or another. It has been almost effortless to gather such a widespread network of people from Joensuu to Reykjavik and from Oulu to Odense that I can call friends. It has given me people I can call at any time of day for help, advice or even a place to stay if I’m in a foreign city. It has given me jobs I wouldn’t have known existed if I had just mingled with Swedish-speaking Finns in our happy little bubble as well as an opportunity to grow as a person. But most importantly, for the first time in my life I felt I belonged somewhere, that I had a family outside of my biological one. Well, that and a subject for my masters thesis.

I’d like to stress the feeling of belonging, because the best memory I have from NESU isn’t an amazing event or a vast network of likeminded people. It was having one of Hankens younger students come and give me a hug after a sitz and thanking me for convincing her to attend NESU events, stating that she finally found a place to call home, help her belong to something. This was (in my eyes at least) the best part of having been chairman of our NESU-board for two and a half years, vice-chairman for a year and a year in the NESU-Finland. Getting to know so many different people, some of which became my closest friends and others even more. Giving newcomers the possibility of being part of this amazing group, teaching them our traditions and seeing them pass it onwards to a new generation.

Now, not to get too teary-eyed, I do have to point out one special event which stood above all the rest when I think of NESU – the 25/65 sitz held by NESU-KY in 2012. Having a shipyard turned into a huge sitz for 300 NESUits (the oldest alumni being from NESU-Hanken in Vaasa, class of ’84 if I recall correctly) was just absolutely mind boggling. Getting to meet alumni as well as students from all over Finland, all sharing the same love for NESU was purely spectacular. I vowed then and there that I’d be back five years later and although I do admit NESU-KY did an amazing job then too, it just didn’t amaze me as much as the first time.

Although my time as a student has ended (and my time within NESU is slowly fading away), my story doesn’t end here. A few of us alumni have decided to start doing something with the NESU-Alumni group so keep your eyes and ears open – there might be something in it for you too! #onemoreyear

Samling, skit, skål

Kristian Vainio
NESU-Hanken i Vasa 2012-2014, 2016
NESU-Finland ’13-‘14