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Áile Aikio

Áile Ingá Aikio
Born June 8,1979, Utsjoki

Master of Arts (ethnography), 2012, University of Helsinki

Amanuensis, 2005- (leave of absence autumn 2013-), Sámi museum Siida
Journalist, 2013–15, Yle Sápmi

Photo: A. Aikio
Written by Áile Aikio and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

My best memories from the University of Helsinki

I particularly wanted to study at the University of Helsinki. I was drawn to it by the variety of study options and by everything else it had to offer. Still, studying in Helsinki, in the south as we call it, was just a temporary but necessary absence from home. I knew from the start that I would return home to the north, to Sápmi, Saamenmaa.

Saamenmaa is the native land of the Sámi people, where you can breathe easy. Saamenmaa needed me. The goal of my studies was to gather the knowledge and skills I couldn’t acquire at home in Saamenmaa but needed in order to work with Sámi culture. Despite the fact that my visit was only temporary, I grew to love Helsinki, my university town, the paved streets, the smell of the trams and the historical halls of the University.

I consider myself a lucky student because I got to take all my courses in the heart of Helsinki, in the old buildings of the University. The main building of my University is next to Senate Square and the departments are situated in Kruununhaka. In the University’s Main Building, I read countless books when revising for exams and listened to lectures in its unergonomic halls, mostly on classical archaeology, which fitted in well with the surrounding classical statues of the old side. However, the courses in question have never been of much use, except as a source of endless anecdotes. Throughout my time at the University, I felt proud to be studying where I originally planned to study, in Helsinki.

Besides the University itself, my student years are definitely bound up with my student nation. I’m a third-generation member of the Wiipurilainen Osakunta student nation, which was important for me throughout my studies. There I found great friends, a student flat, and joy, parties and singing. I became a link a chain of cultured, educated people dating back to the 1650s, and I got to feel like a part of the group. I was even drawn to student nations’ academic pomp: the rules, the dinner parties and the oil paintings of inspectors with disapproving glares. And, in retrospect, the student nation has been not only a useful way to network with different fields but also a social training ground. Having a student nation background comes in handy in surprising situations, I've come to notice.

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