I arrived at the University of Helsinki as an exchange student during the academic year 1989–1990, at the end of the Soviet era. After completing my master’s degree at the University of Tartu, I came back to Helsinki to write my doctoral dissertation, working as a researcher. I lived in Helsinki for nine years altogether, and the University still feels like home to me. Nowadays I am the head of the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Tartu, but membership of the Alumni Association of the University of Helsinki helps me preserve a feeling of having a connection to my alma mater.

The distance prevents me from attending Alumni Association events, but I have been to the biggest parties in the Department of Computer Science, such as professors’ retirement parties and the Department’s 50th anniversary celebration. A couple of years ago, I also attended the conferment ceremony for doctoral graduates from the Faculty of Science – 15 years after I received my degree. That was one of the grandest events I have ever been to.By reading the Alumni Association emails, I am able to compare alumni activities in Helsinki and Tartu. It seems that discipline-specific, small-scale alumni activities in Estonia are more regular than in Helsinki, but in terms of University-wide activities, we still have some way to go.

Jaak Vilo
Faculty of Science