Without coronavirus pandemic we would have been celebrating Wappu this week, including Teemutour, dipping the first year students into the river and sparkling wine. However, the situation does not allow traditional activities. Many of us find the situation frustrating, as we had to cancel our plans. The situation is not at all simple: postponing Wappu may have caused even isolation and depression. The Wappu is not only about having fun: it offers a possibility to get to know new people and an access to social events with a low threshold. Wappu might be the first occasion, when a first year student is confident enough to join the events. This might play an important role in preventing isolation.
Moreover, Wappu creates an opportunity to fill the social void and getting to know new people is important for the future of the student and building the community. Networking is beneficial for the future working life and makes the studying time more pleasant. Meeting new people also expands our perspectives – when we mingle with students representing other fields of study, we learn much more about the field in question than by staring at the course descriptions in the study guide. Someone might even find an interesting minor or even a new study field (this might have happened to the writer of this text but that is another story).
Even when we have Remote Wappu, it does not replace everything that Wappu stands for: the sense of community, meeting new people and being and doing together. Postponing the Wappu has generated many thoughts, both positive and negative. However, most of us are looking forward to Wappu in the autumn, including myself. I must also confess that when seeing the snow out of my window on the day for which we planned a Wappu picnic, I was happy that I was not outside sitting on the river bench. For me skipping the Wappu completely was not an option, because I find it crucial in creating feeling of togetherness in the student union. Wappu is also a way to make people to get to know each other and appreciate one another. Wappu is a state of mind, not a date, and I cannot wait to have the first Wappu in the autumn!