Hi guys! My name is Legolas and i have just returned from my exchange in Helsinki, Finland. I had a really good 6 months in Finland. People said that winter is Finland is horrible. With extreme cold weather and dark skies. However, i was comfortable with the weather as i am not a person who is sensitive to weathers. The best thing about the weather is, there were always blue skies even when it was snowing. The weather in January was the worst as the sky was always grey and dark. Sun was rising at 10am and setting at 3pm. It is a bit frustrating but it didn’t last long. At most for 3 weeks. (I arrived on 1st of January) On the other hand, springs and summers in Helsinki are gorgeous. In May, the sky is never dark. I have heard Finnish people say that summer comes quite early this year. So, when people talks about how annoying the weather is in Finland, i do not think so.
Studying in Finland is relaxing. Usually the courses are only last for 6 weeks with lectures and workshops, plus another week as an exam week. This is 1 period of the winter semester. There are 3 periods of winter semesters. There are only 2 periods of summer semester as i understood. People who are planning to go study in Finland can match and schedule your study carefully. So that you can have a nice period break if you fit every subject you want to do in just one period. That is what i did in the winter semester. I scheduled 4 courses in the first 2 periods. Then during the last period i took my chance to travel around in Europe.
The courses in Aalto University are comparatively easier than courses in University of Adelaide. With fewer assessments and more flexible timetable, I have more time to explore around and meet new people around the campus. The cafe inside the campus are good and cheap. You can get a lunch set for just 2.6euros with the student card. Moreover, Finnish people are really friendly and they are polite in every ways. I was sitting in the cafe and eating alone one day, then one of my Finnish classmate (we have never talked before but we sat in the same table) came along with his friends and joined me. They asked a lot about where am i from and do i enjoy to be in Finland. After my exchange, I could feel that they are open-minded and hospitable. However, Finnish always make fun with themselves about being shy as first.
I have made lots of friends from the exchange group as well. They were from Canada mainly, along with America, Singapore and Taiwan. Also, different places in Europe like France, Italy. Lots of the exchange students are from HEC Montreal, National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University.
It is really easy to go around Helsinki by public transport. There are only trains, buses and metros. More importantly, you can apply for a student travel card (which the local tutors will help you with this when you arrived.) with a monthly fee for 52euros. Then you can use this public transport with this card with no extra cost. It is really convenient. I only take taxis when i missed my last bus after a night out. Getting yourself familiar with the bus timetable is really important as i paid 50euros for a 15mins taxi ride, because i have missed my last bus.
Food and cafe
There are lots of restaurants in the city centre of Helsinki. They are not cheap like 30euros for a dinner. My personal favourite is an American burger restaurant in central station of Helsinki. It is called ”Morrison”. The thing i like the most about it is the portion of the food. For 15euros i can get a big plate of chips and a burger as big as my face! The taste is really good of cause.