ESN KISA: Students Helping Students

Everyone is welcome to join our international community!

Sara Stemberger comes from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. She came to Finland in autumn 2016 to study for a Master’s Degree in Public Health. She has been a board member of ESN KISA for a year and a half, and an active member for about a month.

What is ESN KISA?

The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is the biggest student association in Europe. Founded in 1989, it is an international non-profit organization that provides opportunities for cultural experiences. ESN’s main focus is on international students who might feel abandoned in their new environment. ESN offers help in academic, social and practical integration matters. ESN is present in more than 900 higher education institutions from 40 countries. Its mission is to represent international students, providing opportunities for cultural understanding and self-development under the principle of “students helping students”. ESN KISA was founded in Kuopio in 2011, and plays a key role in creating a welcoming, international community in the city.

What does ESN KISA offer?

ESN KISA offers a wide range of events. Some events appeal to those looking for relaxation, for example, movie nights, wine and cheese events and board games nights. Among the events aimed at adventure-seekers are trips to Koli National Park or cultural experiences such as sitsit (a traditional Finnish seated dinner parties including eating, drinking and singing with special rules, and often there’s a special theme for the parties), smoke sauna, food festivals or karaoke nights. As Sara says,

“…our most popular events are our food festivals and sitsit. We also partner with a travel company called Timetravels to offer popular group trips to Lapland, St. Petersburg, and Lofoten every semester. There’s also a trip called Pirates of the Baltic Sea, which is a three-day cruise to Stockholm, with over 1,500 international students.

Who can join?

Currently half of ESN KISA’s newly elected board members are Finnish. The active members of ESN KISA tend to be a mix of both Finnish and international students.

The events are catered more towards international students. We tend to attract people that are currently on exchange, or have had previous exchange or international experiences,” Sara says.

Most of the events are free, and include snacks. Certain events have a small fee to cover the costs.

For students who are considering joining ESN KISA’s activities, Sara has a simple message:

The more the merrier! We welcome anyone who wants to join. Whether you are an international or a Finnish student, everyone has something unique to offer both ESN KISA and the international community.”

Upcoming events and activities:

  • 25.3. Movie Night at Lukema.
  • 25-27.3. PoBS – Pirates of the Baltic Sea cruise. The tickets are still available.
  • 30.3.-3.4. St. Petersburg and Tallinn trip. Few tickets are still left.

For more information about the organisation and the events, check ESN KISA’s page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ESNKISA/

Interview and text: Tiia Alina Heikkinen, Student Ambassador of the Programme