I started my studies in the fall of 2016 at the Mikkeli campus of Aalto University. From the very start of my student life I thought our NESU organization, NESU-Probba, sounded like something that I would love to become a part of, and I really enjoyed the sitsiparties they organized for us in Mikkeli. The more I learnt about NESU and all of the different organizations in different cities, the more excited I got. However, in our program we have a pretty strict absence policy meaning that it is not easy to skip school and travel across Finland: in the beginning, managing my studies and being active in NESU events felt like an impossible combination.

When I got to know the first people from other cities at one of our sitsiparties, the curiosity of what it would be like to do this somewhere else got the best of me. After having been to the movies with the chairwoman of NESU-Probba at the time, she convinced me and my roommates to join her at NESU-SHS’ Backwards-themed sitsiparty only a few days away. We didn’t really know what to expect, it was tricky to come up with a proggis and a toast gift for the first time, but it turned out to be a really fun night. Some of the people I met there are now great friends of mine, and that’s what truly kept me coming back to NESU events – the amazing community that took the little freshman-me in like they had known me for a long time.

I became the chairwoman of NESU-Probba in 2017 and after NESU-Dagen in Oulu that January I was permanently in love with NESU. Regardless of me sleeping on a wet floor between the door to the sauna and the door to the hot tub outside, during that weekend I experienced the true power of like-minded people coming together over and over again to create unforgettable memories. I couldn’t wait to see those smiling faces again and therefore the calendar on nesu.net basically became my calendar. Oh, the countless early morning trains and buses I have taken to make it to school in Mikkeli by 9, but they were all worth it. There is just something about the feeling when you can go into any city for an event and have people, either familiar or new, who are excited to see you and to have an amazing time with you.

Speaking of amazing time, my favourite NESU event that I have so far been to was the Spring Conference in Helsinki in 2018. That was my first conference, and it definitely won’t be the last. I had no idea what the week was going to be like, but I have to say that all of the surprises were the best kinds of surprises. After spending an entire week with lovely people from the Nordics, learning about service design and enjoying some fine, fine evening programs, I felt really grateful for getting to be a part of this community, this family.

However, I had to leave the NESU family behind for six months when I started my exchange which is something every Probba member gets to do. I do admit that attending some of the last sitsiparties last spring brought a tear or two to my eye (read: waterfalls) as I was sad to be apart from this community for so long. But I had a blast abroad, and when I came back in January, the first thing I did was attending the Pre-Dagen sitsiparty in Joensuu and NESU-Dagen in Kuopio. And there it was, the same loving NESU family with great additions from the new students, and I felt right back at home.

I’m not the first nor am I the last to say this, but NESU has given me incredibly much. A year in NESU-Probba board taught me how to organize events for a large audience and doing that with the awesome people of our board made us really close to each other. It is the best reward when you see the happy faces of the attendees after a sits party and hear that they have had a great time. In addition to that, I owe a huge thanks to NESU for giving my confidence a big boost and for example helping me get rid of my stage fright. When you have kind, caring and just the right kind of crazy people around you, everyone can simply be themselves.

See you around,

Maija Saari
NESU-Probba 2017

Picture taken by © Star Image