Staying active in Oulu – students’ wellbeing and sport hobby opportunities in Oulu

What's going on with the wellbeing of higher education students? In light of recent studies there is room for immediate improvements. Oulu has plenty of sports services – even in student prices. An active hobby is a great way to get to know new people and feel part of the community.

The wellbeing of higher education students’ is a big talking point currently – and for good reason. The Finnish Student Health and Wellbeing Survey (KOTT 2021) was carried out by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). The results prove that actions must be made quickly. Over 6 200 higher education students filled out the survey, and as many as 25 % of students report to feeling lonely in their lives. Every fourth student also reports that they do not feel connected to any peer group related to studies or free time. These groups can be e.g. study groups, classes or student organizations.

Finnish Student Sports Federation OLL is demanding actions in their newly published news article. OLL calls for practical moves to be made for higher education students to have equal opportunities for sport and exercise. The federation wants to highlight, that also higher education institutions themselves have a responsibility in offering chances for physical activity in everyday life on campus and in studies. Every member of the university community must have an equal chance to be active – no matter the background. “It is important for the higher education schools to continue to build sport services and local exercise opportunities while also keeping in mind to utilize the region’s service providers’ co-operation”, OLL’s Chairperson Essi Lumme says in the article.

Join the fun – either as organizer or participant!

The strength and magic of the University of Oulu definitely lies in the active student pool and the interdisciplinary and communal mega campus. With their ongoing actions, the students help the community to strengthen the bond between university community members and organize public events – even with a limited budget or a small group of people. For example, the event Sporttiappro is Oulun luokanopettajaopiskelijat OLO ry’s yearly sport event in Oulu. Sporttiappro takes place every autumn, and the last event was held September 17–28. The event is always open for all higher education students, no matter the University or faculty.

The purpose of Sporttiappro is to activate the students and make them move. In addition to this, Sporttiappro wants to present all kinds of hobbies and sports to students: many of the activities available in Sporttiappro are rare, expensive, or otherwise hard or nerve-wracking to try by yourself. During the event, students get the chance to get to know sports service providers in Oulu – and amidst it all to each other. The vision of the organizers is to get students to feel better via exercise and to help them learn about communal hobby possibilities in Oulu. And higher education students do need the exercise and the social aspect of hobbies, as shown by the KOTT 2021 results.

The results of KOTT 2021 also point out that university students do not meet the recommended amounts of exercise. Only below 50 % of students reach the recommended amount of exercise set by the Finnish National Welfare Institute (THL). Students need to be more active to gain more wellbeing. Doing group exercises can add communality and enhance wellbeing to students’ lives as well. This year Sporttiappro has approximately 380 participants from University of Oulu and from the Oulu University of Applied Sciences. The event is organized pro bono: from the sheer love of all sports.

“From students, for students” attitude has motivated the event organizers. A group of 7 students organized the event with the additional practical help of some other people in the organization. ”Organization in an event like this a fairly big task, with all the partnerships and other moving parts and schedules. However, it’s really rewarding to work together in a big project like this, and especially seeing all the participants getting to know different sports and being excited to do it is the best part.” the Chairperson of OLO ry, Laura Walta says. In its core the whole event is focused on students’ wellbeing. The event steers away from the often alcohol-fueled or otherwise unhealthy event habits and seeks to introduce students to new, healthy hobbies. Laura Walta also wants to highlight the communal part of the event. Getting a new hobby is an easy way to find like-minded people while having fun.

Get to know what Oulu has to offer

Low activity levels of young people and especially students are important yet complicated topics. Perhaps the newly moved students simply do not know about what services are available in Oulu. One service provider offering sports services for both staff and students at the University is the established yet freshly renewed UniMove (previously OKKL). UniMove offers a wide variety of sport-specific courses, group lessons and with a UniMove membership you are eligible for discounts of other affiliated sport services or shops in Oulu. In addition to UniMove, specific student guilds or hobby organizations offer weekly sport lessons or gatherings. There really is a wide variety of things to do and explore in Oulu, if you’re just keen enough to start!

Many students can find a new hobby either from the UniMove selection or by participating in various events organized here in Oulu, such as Sporttiappro. The Sporttiappro selection contained a massive range of sports and activities that you could choose from. The list had different sports ranging from cheerleading to karate, archery, and pole dancing. Also available were some traditional Finnish yard games: there you really can get to know your peers while having good-hearted fun. All these activities from UniMove or other providers offer a great chance to get some much-needed fresh air, fun action, and a chance to get to know each other. There’s even a possibility of finding a forever-hobby. Even OLO ry’s Chair Laura Walta has found a new long-time hobby for herself from the event.

A new, active hobby or a meeting place with a new group of people are all great chances to get a new friend group or some new perspective on life. Sporttiappro, for example, is purposefully organized in the Autumn to allow the newly started first-year degree students the chance to get to know each other and to take a look into Oulu’s selection of services. Also, a great place to get active, meet new people from the University of Oulu and try some sports is the OYY’s wellbeing tutoring. They arrange weekly and monthly tryouts and hangouts for the students at the University of Oulu. A new, active hobby is a great chance to get some much-needed fresh air in the middle of your studies. Being active will refresh your mind and body – both gravely needed for a successful study life.

University of Oulu’s Talent Boost project offers funding for bottom-up initiatives (events, campaign or tryouts) that will engage the whole University community and build community in an international setting. Follow the University’s webpage for upcoming info and grab the opportunity to do your part in building the community!

Last updated: 14.10.2022