Overview of Finland
As an international student, finding a home is probably one of the first items on your check-list. In Finland, you can find different options for accommodations. Usually, the best is to search first on the universities websites or on the local student housing foundation. You can also find an apartment on the free market. In Finland, approximatively one third of the students live in an apartment. You have different options: if you prefer to be alone, you can find a studio apartment but the number is limited and it might be less expensive to live in a shared apartment with other students (the rent would be approximatively between 160€ and 340€). You will usually share the flat with 2 to 4 students: you should have your own room but the other parts of the house are shared with the others. Finally, you can try to find a host family: it is interesting from a financial point of view, and it is also a good opportunity to share the life of a typical Finnish family.
■ Transportation system
The transportation system in Finland is quite efficient and reliable. Public transportation is available in every city and you can enjoy students’ discounts. Finland has a nationwide network of train, bus and air services. You can also travel by car. In this case, you have to check whether your license is valid in Finland or not. For drivers native from EU or EEA countries, and most generally from a country which ratified the Geneva/Vienna Road Traffic Convention, you should have no problems renting a car. But if you’re not one of the above, you may receive a temporary license for a maximum of 12 months, after which you will have to take the Finnish evaluation test.
The currency used in Finland is the euro. Given the geographic localisation and the climate of the country, Finland is forced to import many common goods and clothing, so the cost of living is comparatively more expensive than other European countries. You will have no problems shopping in Finland because there are many department stores and commercial streets, but keep in mind that the shopping hours are very specific: usually shops close at 6pm, sometimes sooner on Saturdays and most of them are closed on Sundays.
For the grocery shopping, you will not find a very large range of products, because many of them have to be imported. But you can buy food for reasonable price in many supermarkets (such as the ones of the K-Group). In certain cities you will also find hard-discounters such as Lidl.
Traditional Finnish food is usually made of potatoes and bread with fish and a small range of meat. You can find regional speciality and typical dishes such as smoked salmon or reindeer meatballs.
Restaurants are usually quite expensive but thanks to the government and it’s sponsoring coupon program, you can find an affordable lunch : 8/9€ for a meal set at restaurants or cafes and about 2/4€ in universities cafeterias.
The cultural life in Finland is very developed. Finnish are said to be very merry and joyful people. Many cultural events involve dancing and singing. Actually, culture is a very important part of the life in Finland, and is largely sponsored by the state (which makes it pretty easy to find cheap tickets for concerts, movies, theatres…). As most of the Nordic countries, Finland is famous for its artists and designers. Finland was also the homeland of the famous classic composer Jean Sibelius. Finland is also famous for the saunas, these highly heated rooms supposed to have a therapeutic effect. And of course, you might know this Finnish company, which is also one of the leaders on the international market of communication: Nokia.