Student communities have given me my best friends
The coronavirus era has finally made people in Finland realise that loneliness and not belonging to a community are seriously harmful to people’s wellbeing. The best antidote to loneliness is, naturally, friendship. But when we talk about friendship, the importance of communities and reducing loneliness, what do we actually mean? What is friendship?
The etymology of the Finnish word for friend, ystävä, is not entirely clear. Regardless of its exact origin, though, the word’s history is connected to that which is considered trustworthy, wanted and something you want to keep close to you. Friendship is voluntary and based on equality; it is about wanting to spend your free time with another person and share what is going on in your life with them. A friendship is a very special relationship: you share both the good and bad moments in life with your friends, sometimes while living under one roof, and in the best-case scenario, throughout your lives.
Everyone deserves friendship and a community to which to belong. Friends and student communities have a huge impact on the wellbeing and coping of all of us. Many students move out to live on their own when they begin their studies and might not know anyone from the city they are moving to. Your old group of friends might split up with everyone moving to different cities for their studies. Belonging to student organisations is a crucial part of students’ everyday life – a part that Zoom cannot replace. We need real encounters with our friends and opportunities to create new friendships. Belonging to a community is known to have a positive effect on people’s wellbeing and mental health – and no wonder! No-one can make it on their own, and no-one is meant to do so.
Student life is so much more than studying and toiling away on courses – and I do not only mean parties and nights that stretch on until the early hours. For me, student life has also been about study circles, corporate excursions, pilates lessons, cooking together and so much more that I could never have done without the friends I have made on courses and in organisations. For many, the time spent in student communities is the most important and memorable part of their studies and university life.
One of HYY’s most important duties is to connect our members to the student community, while we also want to support students’ independent activities. HYY’s members – us students – have the opportunity to fulfil themselves and create communities around themselves. There are as many as 26,000 of us – as many as there are residents in Imatra. We have over 200 student organisations, 15 student nations and five committees operating under us. All in all, there is a huge selection of opportunities to find your own community and to meet new people over faculty boundaries!
The communities operating under HYY make it possible for every single student to have important and meaningful experiences. We need one another, and student organisations are there to provide us with opportunities to connect with new people. However, we are all responsible for ensuring that everyone is able to participate in the activities of our communities. Communities are built together, one friend at a time.
Board member in charge of volunteers, tutors and new students, communication