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Student union speech at the opening ceremony of the academic year

Dear Rector, university employees, and fellow students

It is a great honor for me to stand before you as we embark on a new academic year, setting forth on a journey of exploration and growth. Today marks the beginning of your journey - it will be exciting, challenging, and sometimes quite difficult. Remember, though, that nothing easy is worth doing. Let us cast aside the fear of attempting something difficult. What matters is taking one step at a time, and eventually, You'll end up with an amazing view from the heights of a mountain. Remember that You don't have to do it alone at all costs. You are surrounded by people who are ready to help You with advice and support whenever needed.

A few years back I also sat in this hall for the first time. I thought I would only focus on my studies. I believed I came here only to read books and complete my assignments. I was sure that I was not the kind of person who wanted to meet a lot of people and participate in extracurricular activities. I could not have been more wrong.

My university experience has exceeded all expectations I could have never dreamt that during my time at university, I would be leading a student organization, initiating projects, or getting involved in areas that are deeply important to me, such as student well-being and mental health. And if that sounds distant to you right know, believe me: I was once in your shoes. All these accomplishments emerged through the simple act of keeping an open mind and focusing to take one step after another, one step at a time.

Throughout this week, you have heard repeatedly to join student organizations, make connections, and be part of Tallinn University of Technology's unique student life.But why is this emphasized so much? It's not only making friends for life, or having fun at parties, or even making school more manageable. However, there are many more reasons. Working together towards a common goal fosters strength and self- confidence, and provides you with new skills. It is a safety net that keeps you from falling off the track. I am here today because of the people who supported me. Only a few manage graduating university on their own and their university experience is much poorer for it.

Most learning takes place outside the classroom. It happens during late evenings spent in student organizations, sharing experiences, collaborative efforts after lectures, or even in the creation of a startup with a coursemate during a hackathon. Such opportunities emerge only when we work together. Alone You will go fast, but together we can go further.

You take the first step. Take a moment to think about what that first step will be. Could it be attending an introductory session for a student organization? Do you have the courage to start a conversation with the person next to you? Or perhaps you schedule a meeting with someone who stood out to you on campus? The choice is yours, but the important that you take the first step. Should the outcome not meet your expectations, do not lose hope — try again!

I wish you courage and an open mind for the journey ahead. Have an amazing start to the academic year, and long live TalTech!


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