You might have a hard time diving into student culture, if you’re passioned about sports. Though alcohol consumption is decreasing, partying sober still raises eyebrows.
"People have their own comfort zones. For some it’s a bar, but for me it’s the gym”, says Nora Palonen, who is majoring in Media Studies at the University of Turku.
Subject associations often focus on organizing parties. When Palonen started her studies, she was trying to find a pleasant way to combine exercise and traditional student life. Usually she trains five times a week.
“We tend to think that the best way to make the most out of studying is to party hard. I wanted to keep doing what I truly want but still be a part of the community.”
For the past decade or so the trend for Finnish university students has been to consume less alcohol at a time and fewer times per month than before. However, one out of ten still drinks heavily.
As people drink less, downtown night clubs in Turku struggle to stay open. For students, it’s more and more common to prefer private parties to bars.
So, students are more aware of the downsides of partying, but social pressure is real. It’s still common that party organizers don’t offer a non-alcoholic option, and if they do, partying sober might attract confused looks.
Palonen believes that there are big differences between subject associations in how they deal with alcohol.
”How much students drink depends on the subject association. Some of them are pushy in offering alcohol, which makes me feel like I’m ruining the mood for everyone for not drinking.”
Palonen has been studying for five years. She is still attending parties, but leaves early, if necessary.
“Right now exercise is the priority for me. I’ve already experienced the party lifestyle.”
Students are focusing more on their health than before, Palonen says.
Research shows that this is correct, especially for young men. A growing group of male students exercise at least a few times per week.
At the same time the number of passive students is getting higher. Half of the students have barely any incidental activity at all – things like walking up stairs instead of taking the lift.
That is alarming. The lack of exercise is bad for health, mood and weight control. In Finland the number of overweight students has grown remarkably after the turn of the millennium.
When it comes to incidental activity, the students of technical sciences move the least. In turn, the students of medicine and business are most ambitious in their exercise.
Nora Palonen highlights that going to the gym five times a week is not ideal for everyone. Instead, it’s important to find a sport that one truly enjoys – and to do it at one’s own pace.
”I can’t understand how students manage with their life and studies without exercising at all. Doing sports even a little bit keeps us operational”, she says and continues:
“All movement is a plus!”
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