After the past couple of weeks where we were mostly just settling and taking introductory lectures, this week was when our studies started to really ramp up.

One thing about coming to Aalto for exchange is the fact that many of the modules at Bachelor’s level are conducted in Finnish, and at least in the case of ISTD, many of the English Bachelor’s modules are modules which we have already taken back in SUTD. This means that many of us here have to end up taking modules at the Master’s level, which thus far have felt a lot more theoretical and certainly more challenging than what we are used to, especially when compared to SUTD’s more hands-on/project based curriculum back home. Nonetheless, challenges are good to have and it is always good to know more about the theoretical foundations of what we have been studying.

Another thing which is different is that there isn’t as many lectures or tutorials at home, and a lot of onus is on us to do our own learning and to make sure that we complete our work on time. Of course, the professors and course assistants are around whenever we need help, but this is certainly a good lesson in discipline and on independence, which I guess is a rather common reason to go to an exchange program in the first place, so this, too, is a pretty good thing.

Of course, despite all that, it hasn’t been all work here. On Friday, we had the chance to experience something unique to Finland and Sweden known as sitsit. Basically, it is a dinner organized by the Computer Science Guild, which is a student union of sorts for all CS students. It is, however, not an ordinary dinner, with many different traditions that need to be followed. The most unique thing was that there was a lot of singing – more so than actually eating, in fact! One of the traditions was that no eating or drinking should be done while there was a song going on, so it took a really long time for us to actually finish the food since we spent most of the time (trying to) sing.

While waiting for the sitsit to begin
The setting for the sitsit

It was certainly a pretty interesting experience, and I hope that we will be able to experience more of such traditions in the coming months.

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