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Fresher guide

You are about to enter a phase of life that many people will later remember as as the most fun time of their lives. Becoming independent, going to college, and starting your own life is an incredible adventure, even a little scary, as it is perhaps the biggest change in your life so far. How to get to know new people? Can you find your own way to study, and how to adapt to the complexities of university life? Studying is not just about sitting in lectures, it's a whole lifestyle that you can make your own. 

Going to university will certainly be a big change from high school or vocational school. There will be times when the only people who seem to care about your progress are the staff of Kela and HOAS (Helsinki Region Student Housing Foundation), who will demand more and more study credits. There is no longer a teacher to support you when you don't do your homework. Undoubtedly, optional and self-directed activities will increase the chances of success in your studies.

However, things are not quite that bad. Around 150 students start at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics each year and their initial comfort is ensured by around 30 tutors. The role of tutors is to help new students get off to a good start in their university life, for example by assisting with course selection and enrollment, as well as taking care of other practical arrangements. In addition, a wide range of leisure activities are organised for students, especially new ones, in the form of excursions and social events. This is intended to soften the start of "life on their own" for those who may have moved to a new city, not forgetting of course freshers who have lived in Helsinki for a longer period of time. Life at university is much easier when you know your fellow students.

In addition to tutors, support is provided by Matrix, the mathematics students' organization. Together, we do everything related to studying and student life, from calculus exercises to partying and from football to museum visits. By joining us, you're sure to gain new experiences and friends, almost a new family. Whether your passion is maths or something else, it's always more fun to do things together.

Information for freshers

At the beginning of your studies, it's normal to feel confused about  the practices of the university world. Before the start of the autumn semester, new students are offered an orientation session, which provides basic information about studying at university. At the same time, freshmen are assigned a freshmen group and a pair of tutors to help them get started with their studies. So there's no need to panic, even if you don't know everything at first.

Below you will find all the useful information for freshers, which will also help with anxiety.

Tutoring and introduction to tutors can be found on the tutors tab.
A glossary containing the most important terms encountered in the university world, especially in the study of mathematics, is available here.
Course descriptions for basic and advanced mathematics courses can be found on the degree & courses  tab.
Information about events can be found on the calendar and on the homepage.
Don't forget to read the greeting from the board for new freshmen.

You can get the most up-to-date information about events from our main information channels from the Matrix email list and from the Matrix info channel on Telegram (see Announcement channels) , as well as the events calendar on these pages. You can become a member here.

In addition, the brilliant fuksiwiki of the computer science students' organization TKO-äly has a wealth of advice relevant to the study of mathematics.

Frequently Asked Questions by New Students

 How can one enroll in mathematics courses and exercise sessions?
Enrollment is done through Sisu once the course has been included in the primary study plan (see degree & courses). Enrollment typically opens a few weeks before the course begins. Enrollment in the course's exercise or tutorial group occurs during the course enrollment process. You can usually find the link for course enrollment on the course's website or by searching for the course itself in Sisu. Enrollment in courses must be completed before their start date. However, if you forget to enroll within the enrollment period, you may still be able to join the course by contacting the course's instructor. For detailed instructions on course enrollment and using Sisu, refer to the degree & courses section.

What if the exercise group is already full? 
If other groups are full or their times do not suit you, you can contact the organizers of the course or enroll in a group even if it doesn't suit your schedule. Exercise groups are rarely actually full, even if they appear to be full during enrollment, so you can usually attend other groups without worry.

Where can I get exercise sets?
Exercise sets are usually posted online on the course website or Moodle (the platform used by the University of Helsinki, where materials and exercises for some courses are available) by the previous week at the latest. Exercise sets are also often distributed during lectures or tutorial sessions.

How are exercise sets submitted?
For many freshman courses, exercise sets are submitted through the course's Moodle page and the designated submission section. On many courses, peer assessment is used anonymously to evaluate the submissions of other students, and typically, participating in peer assessment also earns points towards completing the course. Another common method for submitting exercise sets is through "laskarit" (exercise sessions).

How are exercise sessions conducted?
Exercise sessions typically last for two hours (90 minutes). At the beginning of the session, the instructor will pass around a list where you need to write your name. Additionally, you mark on the list which exercises you have completed or attempted to do (more or less honestly). Many of the instructors leading the exercise sessions are students themselves, so you won't be judged harshly even if your solutions are not completely correct - after all, the best way to learn is by making mistakes! After this, most exercise session leaders ask someone to present their solution on the board unless someone volunteers to do so. In practice, the only way to ensure the correctness of a solution is to go up and present it on the board, where it will be discussed together. Keep in mind that you learn more from correcting mistakes than from believing incorrect solutions are correct.

What if I can't attend my assigned group every time?
If for any reason you can't attend your designated exercise group, you can also visit any other group.

How are courses completed?
The most common way to complete a course is by doing the (mandatory or voluntary, depending on the course) weekly exercise assignments and taking course exams. Depending on the course, there may be one or two exams. Exams typically consist of four tasks, with 2-3 hours allotted for completion. Each task usually carries six points. It's often possible to earn additional points by completing exercise sessions, and the final grade is usually based on the combined score of exams and exercise sessions.

An alternative method is to register in Sisu to take the course in the department's general exams. In this case, there are five tasks, which are usually more difficult than those in the regular exams. However, you have 3-4 hours for completion. You can find more detailed information about general exams here.

How to act during exams?
Remember to register for the exam on time in Sisu! Registration is often done at the same time as registering for the course. Without registration, you cannot participate in the exam. You must bring a photo ID or a photo student card to the exam. Calculators, tables, both, or neither may be allowed in the exam. Exam papers and concepts are prepared for you in the examination room, so you don't need to worry about them. Follow the instructions of the exam supervisors carefully during the first exams. There may be multiple course exams happening simultaneously, so the exam room may be crowded. Therefore, it's a good idea to arrive early to ensure you have a seat without any hassle. Exams are usually held in the Exactum halls A111 and B123 and always start on the hour. Signs on the doors of the halls will guide you to the correct one.

How are exams/courses graded?
The scores for exams usually appear either on the course page or Moodle. Exams are not returned, but you can review yours by contacting the course instructor or the person who corrected the exams. The course grade also appears on Sisu (under "My Information" > "Achievements") and should be visible within a month. In cases where a course didn't go well, you can request additional assignments from the course lecturers to potentially improve your grade, especially if it's based on midterm exams. Remember that completing exercise sessions often earns additional points on many courses, which are then added to the midterm exam score at the end of the course. The weight of points obtained from exercise sessions varies greatly; on some courses, they're entirely extra points, while on others, you can't get a grade better than a one without completing the tasks.

Where can I get help with assignments?
On the 3rd floor corridor of Exactum (in the immediate vicinity of Komero), there is plenty of table space to work on assignments, review for exams with friends, or simply sit and contemplate mathematics. Most of the time, there are orange- or yellow-vested ratkomo instructors available, from whom you can seek advice on the toughest assignments. The Ratkomo Moodle page has a schedule showing when guidance for specific courses is available. Guidance from instructors is often available for all course assignments. There is also space for solving assignments in Ratkomo itself. Ratkomo is located on the 3rd floor of Exactum in room C323 and in the corridor. The 3rd-floor corridor of Exactum and Ratkomo are excellent places to work on assignments together.

Where can I get course books?
For most courses, there isn't a book at all, but rather lecture notes are used as material, which can be found on the course website. However, it's always a good idea to first check what book or material is used in lectures and inquire about borrowing options from former students. Some course books may also be available at the library. The university bookshop offers a comprehensive selection of textbooks.

Which study modules from another subject should I take?
In the Faculty of Science, the right to study is relatively flexible. Studies consist either of study modules, which depend on the study track chosen during the studies, or elective studies. Study tracks include mathematics, statistics, computer science, and econometrics. Mathematics students also often choose physics and chemistry as minor subjects, but you can choose something completely different if you wish. For detailed information on study modules and study rights for different subjects, refer to the study guide for that subject.
Where is the Department of Mathematics located?
The Department of Mathematics and Statistics is located at the Kumpula Campus, in Exactum (Pietari Kalmin katu 5), together with the Department of Computer Science, among others. Previously, the Department of Mathematics was located at Yliopistonkatu 5, in the so-called Heimola building, upstairs from the "Kluuvi" Alko. We moved to new premises in the summer of 2004.

Where are the lectures and exercise sessions for mathematics courses held?
The lectures and exercise sessions for mathematics courses are held in the lecture halls and rooms at Exactum, primarily in lecture halls B123 and A111 on the first floor for freshman courses, and exercise sessions are held in teaching spaces on the first and third floors. Ratkomo and guidance groups are located on the third floor. For more detailed information about the teaching spaces for each course, refer to the course websites, Sisu, or Moodle.

Where are the departments of Physics, Chemistry, and Computer Science, as well as the Faculty office?
Almost the entire faculty is located at the Kumpula Campus. Chemists are based in Chemicum, physicists, geologists, and geographers in Physicum. Mathematicians and statisticians share facilities with computer scientists at Exactum. The Faculty office and the Student Services Office are located on the second floor of Physicum.

Where is location X exactly?
The Computer Science students' organization TKO-äly's freshman wiki contains a map of Exactum. With the help of the freshman wiki, you can easily find all the classrooms in Exactum. Additionally, Helsinki University's website provides an excellent map service where you can find the map of each campus area. Another handy service is the HSL Route Planner.