Alumni Day brings hundreds of former university students back to Tartu
The University of Tartu hosted its first and also Estonia’s biggest alumni reunion, “Bygone Times,” on Saturday, wherein decades’ worth of alumni from all different majors visited the university’s school buildings and met with old classmates.
The Southern Estonian city of Tartu teemed with joyful reunions yesterday, as the university-wide Alumni Day provided everyone who had long since seen their old classmates, wanted to visit their old university buildings, old professors or even just Tartu itself again an excuse to come together, reported ETV’s nightly news broadcast “Aktuaalne kaamera.”
During the day, alumni had the opportunity to visit the university’s various museums, take one last look at the old University of Tartu Library, which will soon be undergoing renovations, as they remembered it, and take part in various lectures. One of the university’s dormitories was also open for visitors, but the real party began in the city’s pubs and cafés Saturday night.
“We’ve been reminiscing here about the good old days, attended a few lectures, visited old school buildings, had a good time, drunk beer,” said Pharmacy Institute alumna Aili Soopalu.
Dental alumna Mare Tilk said that the first thing they did in town was visit familiar cafés. “First we visited Werner Café, then the University Café, then we went walking on Toome Hill,” said Tilk, referring to the great hill in the heart of Tartu around which many of the historical buildings of the university, which itself was established by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1632, are located. Toome Hill was turned into a park on the initiative of the university during the early decades of the 19th century.
The alumna’s day did not end there, however; she went on to say that they attended a lecture given by the university’s Professor Emeritus Marika Mikelsaar and visited various old university buildings where they had studied. “It feels nostalgic and of course there is a bit of sadness as well about where the time has gone, as we were just here,” admitted Tilk.
While the alumni reunion involved the entire university, its events were mainly aimed at bringing together old classmates. “At first it seems like you see someone and you can’t even remember right away who they are, because it’s been years,” said law alumnus Urmas Kõrgesaar. “But you meet a lot of familiar faces, and it is positive to see that they are all together in Tartu and everyone is in good spirits as they recall university.”
Saturday was the University of Tartu’s first official university-wide Alumni Reunion, however that has not stopped old classmates from getting together in the meantime. “We have our own ten-person group of people with whom we get together regularly, practically once a month, for birthdays,” said Tilk. “We go on hikes and organize events. So we get together with a specific group of people very often.”
Approximately 14,000 students study at University of Tartu, of which over 700 are international students from over 80 countries around the world. In addition to numerous continuing education courses, the university offers 70 bachelor’s, 80 master’s and 35 doctoral programs in Estonian and English.
The university also launched a new online alumni network in January via which former students can find and contact each other again. Nearly 4,000 alumni have already joined the UT Alumni network.