I am typing this after a relaxing Sauna session. It was the perfect way to clear my mind and be able to sum up the incredible adventure that was the last 6 weeks. I have visited Saunas over 20 times in the last two weeks. They are an important part of Finnish culture to keep warm, to relax the mind and the body, and as a form of bonding.
I arrived at my student accommodation in Helsinki, Finland to begin my exchange at Aalto University. I was nervous and eager to meet my five roommates. We are the most multicultural bunch – I live with a Russian, a German, an Austrian, a Singaporean and a Canadian. We are exploring the unique Finnish Culture together, all from different perspectives. I can’t believe it’s been only 3 weeks since I first met them. They’ve become like my second family.
O-week at Aalto was the most unique and adventure-filled week of my trip so far. Imagine the entire university sprinkled with stalls, food trucks and fellow students wearing colourful overalls. This is an important part of Finnish student culture – you order a set of overalls in the colour of your faculty and you collect and sew badges onto them from each event, activity and party you attend. The overalls are taken very seriously by the Finns. They tell your story and are great way to remember all theadventures.
Each stall offers activities – I tried tackle footy, flyer gymnastics, hockey, baseball, fairy floss-making and sauna water throwing. The best part about orientation was Mursujaiset – an event that lasts 24 hours (from 6am to 6am) filled with games, parties and activities to officially inaugurate the freshmen (referred to as ‘Mursu’ here). If you make it to 6am the next morning, you are crowned a ‘super mursu’. I have been sworn to secrecy about the happenings at this event but if you do become a Mursu yourself it’s a day you will remember for the rest of your life!
Finland is a land of contradictions – it is simultaneously both lively yet relaxed, unique yet familiar, proud yet humble. It’s a great vantage point to travel around Europe. I’ve only been here for 6 weeks and I’ve already travelled to London, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Czechia, Sweden and Estonia. I also have Denmark, Norway, Russia, Germany, Netherlands, Austria and the Finnish Lapland to look forward to, as well as many local day-trips! I will also be experiencing my first white Christmas and will hopefully be able to witness the magical Northern Lights!!!
I am so glad I decided to come on this exchange. The application process can be tedious, with endless forms and planning but I promise you that it’ll all be so worth it. You meet incredible souls from around the world and get to see the world from so many different perspectives. What a way to be completing my degree. It’s going so fast and I’m trying to soak in every moment. I don’t want it to end!
Bachelor of Business
Aalto University School of Business
For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au