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Sydney to Helsinki: Letters to Santa


What is an Aussie doing in Helsinki?

So many people asked me why I ended up choosing Finland as my exchange destination, and after originally thinking that I wanted to go to the states for the classic college experience I opted to go to a completely different, remote, however stunningly beautiful part of the world: Helsinki, Finland.

First came the mammoth flights from Sydney, to Hong Kong, to Munich, and then Helsinki… 38 hours door to door. I was quite literally falling asleep on the train to my apartment, however Aalto Business school sends a student ‘tutor’ to pick you up from the airport and Maija was extremely helpful.

From my first few days here joining gyms, cooking food, and waiting for my roommates (an Argentinian and a French Canadian), I didn’t do too much but slowly settle in and learn my way around the immediate area. But this complacency didn’t last long…


The last 10 days I feel like I have lived more than the last 10 months. Its so important when you go on exchange to go in with a ‘yes man’ attitude and literally just say yes to every opportunity possible. So far I’ve made a boatload of friends, toured almost every square metre of Helsinki, gone skiing and wake boarding, fielded countless questions about surfing, eaten all the local cuisine (reindeer, Maksa Laatiko, cloudberry liquor), seen almost every nightlife venue in the city, met the locals, really met the locals, organised trips to Lapland, St. Petersburg, joined the top national rugby union competition in Finland (soon to be star player!), toured around the incredible Toolo and Otaniemi campus’ for Aalto Business school, and many many more.

me and my mate Ramiro at Helsinki cathedral
Me and my mate Ramiro at Helsinki cathedral


There is literally so much more I could write, but for now I’ll keep it brief and leave it there…

Please look out for my of my stories in Helsinki. They are equal parts crazy, awe-inspiring, and just plain enjoyable. I could definitely see myself moving here permanently in the near future after I complete my double degree.

A huge thanks to all at the Study Abroad Exchange office for all they’ve done for me to make this trip a possibility.


Sam Walsh (99134963)

Bachelor of Business

Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation

Aalto University, Finland




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