Aalto University, Finland
Moi moi from Helsinki Finland!! I’m Adam, and I’ve been living here since the 31st of December! Helsinki is COLD!!!!!
It has been an amazing experience so far here in Helsinki. Actually, I think I’ve decided I won’t be coming back to Australia for a while when I finish my exchange… I’ve been searching for job opportunities abroad and fingers crossed things are lining up! Finland has a really interesting culture and is completely different to Australia – People are really friendly and pretty happy, however they do tend to like their privacy. I have been lucky enough to make some really amazing friends here who I have spent nearly every day doing things with, both Finnish and international.
The city is different. I wouldn’t say it’s a city full of a huge amount of things to do, but once you become settled it’s easy to find good little bars & restaurants if you like good food. There is a nightlife here, however it doesn’t start till pretty late- most people don’t head out until about 1am because drinking is expensive- So when you make friends you’ll find yourself at home with music a lot before you head out. Luckily, it’s super close to Estonia which is very cheap to go for alcohol. It’s a two-hour boat to Tallinn in Estonia which is a kind of gateway to the Baltic states, and Estonia is BEAUTIFUL.
Sweden, Norway & Denmark are also very close, around an hour by plane so getting around is not hard and pretty exciting to be so close to such amazing places. There is also a boat to St Petersburg which I will be joining in a couple of weeks, so I can head on into Russia for something a little different without a visa..
So Finland- Well as I said earlier it’s COLD! Days in Helsinki have been down to -25 in the last month. If you come here you must try the Sauna and then the frozen ocean or lake swim. It will be a feeling you’ll remember- it’s amazing. February was the coldest, but it’s still so beautiful & there have been so many days of blue sky. Up in Northern Finland is Lapland and this area is filled with things to do, skiing, snow shoeing, husky rides & meeting Rudolph. I wouldn’t recommend going to Santa’s village- that’s a huge tourist trap. When I was there in February they had 97cm’s of snow!!!! So if you’ve never been in the snow- be prepared!! It was BEAUTIFUL. If you’re lucky you’ll get to see the Northern lights too!
University here is really different to Australia. It’s much more relaxed in the approach to the semester. The semester is split into three 6 week sessions. Each subject is only 6 weeks and for a full time Australian study load you need to complete five subjects which you can do at any point in the three sessions. So, I have completed 2 in the first, 2 in the second and I will complete 1 in the final session – which means I have a lot more time to travel and explore.
Finland is really great, but It can be expensive. When comparing to the Australian dollar it is pretty pricey. However, if we were earning the Euro the prices would actually be pretty similar to Australia. When you’re living here it is very affordable because you’re cooking in your apartment all the time so it’s easy to manage finances.
Before arriving I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pick up Finnish. So, when I arrived I wanted to give it a go. Turns out its one of the most difficult languages ever, so I turned to Swedish because that is also a national language here. Joining Swedish classes at University was really easy and I can hold a conversation now which is really cool because my plans are now to move on to Sweden at the end of semester. Everyone (almost) speaks English here though, so if you have no intention on speaking Finnish or Swedish you will be absolutely fine.
Do an Exchange trip and go and experience another culture and life – Who knows where you’ll end up!
Moi moi & Kitos!!
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Being a foreigner that has settled in Finland myself, it is really interesting to hear how Finland is different to Australia as I only know how different it is to the U.K. Thanks for sharing this post 🙂