Hello everyone, I’m an exchange student from Finland. As I know, some of you will become future exchange students and are still wondering where to go on exchange. I personally think every place has its own good stuffs. I’m here to present you to good stuffs of Finland as well as some not-so-good stuffs. For your information, I’m not locally Finnish. I’m a foreign student living and studying in Finland. So I can guarantee you an objective point of view from a foreigner.
So a little test of geography first. Do you know where Finland is???
It may sound stupid to ask this but believe me, more than often people don’t have any idea. So in case you don’t know, Finland is a country within the Scandinavian block, which is a group of countries situated near the Artic. And that means you should expect coldness and a long winter.
If you are not a big fan of winter time, I suggest you go in the autumn semester. Still, winter is actually a main attraction of Finland. If you love skiing, skating or snowboarding, Finland has it all for you. The country is beautiful in other seasons too, especially in summer and autumn. It has a huge nature reserves and wilderness, thousands of lakes, forests…. which enables lots of activities: hiking, biking, fishing, horse riding, Nordic walking…. If you are there, don’t stay home, go out and discover the wonderful nature.
Next thing on the list is the Finnish culture. I must say the culture is not so rich as some of the southern countries. There are not so many traditional things that remain these days in Finland. It’s pretty much a young, modern and a bit industrial country, especially in big cities. Typical Finnish people are quite shy, reserved so most of the time, you should have the guts to break the ice. Also they really respect each other’s privacy and individuality over there. So if your Finnish roommate comes to ask your permission if he/she could have some friends over, don’t be surprise. And remember to do so too when you have friends over. Last but not least, it’s the Finnish drinking and sauna culture. Finnish people tend to talk more over a beer or some vodka, and they like to hang out in saunas. So the best way to get to know some Finnish guys is to grab a beer, go to sauna and talk about metal music. (they love it there !!)
Ok, here come the not-so-good stuffs: living standards. As you may know, Scandinavia is one of the most expensive regions on the world. And I have to be frank with you, that is true! If you’re used to the cheapness of Poland, you may experience a price shock when you come there. Since Finland produces very few products on its own, it has to import from other countries, thus the prices are high. One paradox is that the locally produced products are many times more expensive than the imported ones. But the bright side is that if you choose a Finnish product or service, it’s totally worth the money, especially services. You can go to the restaurant, pay a little more expensive dinner, but the service is really good and the food is of high quality. You don’t have to leave a tip to get a good service in Finland, unlike in some other countries. You pay a high price for sth, and you deserve the best of it. Another thing which I like about living in Finland is that everything is included in the rents: electricity, water, internet… That makes more sense to me since I know exactly how much I have to spend on rents per month, and I can have friends over as long as I want without worrying about a huge bill of utilities at the end of the month. For what I know, exchange students usually spend roughly 200-400 EUR per month on housing rents.
Finally, attractions in Finland. Finland features modern art, so if you’re a fan, it’s good to go and see art museums here. There are castle and fortress from the Middle Ages in Finland which are still quite intact.
Also you can visit the Finnish archipelago, a group of thousands of small islands. You can take a train up north to visit Lapland – the home of Santa Claus and also to see the Northern Light, which cannot be seen anywhere else on Earth.
If you think you’re done seeing Finland, you can take a boat to Sweden, Estonia or a train to Russia. Or if you want to experience the wild Finnish nightlife, you won’t be disappointed with hundreds of bars and clubs spread over the cities (thanks to the drinking culture!).
To sum up, if you like being with nature, enjoy sports, travel and alcohol, you should come to Finland. Although it may be not the best, it can turn out to be an interesting experience, somewhere different than the other top destination countries like Spain, France, Italy…. After all, you won’t have a boring exchange period as long as you are with exchange students. It will always be legendary…
If you have any question about Finland, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll try my best to help you.