Hi everyone! In this post I’m going to address some concerns you may have about the prospect of studying in Finland or challenges you may come across when you go. Apologies if I repeat myself from earlier blogs but i thought it would be good to have a clear list of all the factors!
‘Finland is so expensive!’
I’m not going to try tell you Finland is a cheap place to live but there are tricks that make it significantly more affordable than you might think. Firstly if you go for the university accommodation (through HOAS or UniHome), depending on what type of flat you get, rent is going to be at least the same, if not cheaper, than a private flat near Glasgow Uni. For example I stay in a 6 bedroom shared apartment and pay €403/month (£290/month).
Regarding food – the University Cafes offer a subsidised lunch for €2.60. For this you get a main meal (there is usually a meat, fish and vegetarian option); a side of spelt rice or new potatoes (occasionally also other veg as a nice surprise!); a side salad; a piece of bread; with butter or hummus; and a drink. This usually constitutes your main meal of the day and is definitely the cheapest way to eat. Also there are plenty of Lidls around where you can do a decent shop for not too much – though be careful for surprisingly expensive products (I have to break my cheddar cheese habit but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
Turning to alcohol and nights out – I’m not going to lie, everyone’s favourite clubs are expensive. For a Friday night in a good place you’re talking around €10 entrance including cloakroom (which is mandatory!) and €6 for a beer/cider. Drinking spirits in clubs is unheard of here (another thing you get used to – promise!). While these clubs are definitely worth the money every so often when you can afford them, to maximise your fun and minimise your expense you might want to look into student nights and deals. For example on Wednesday nights in Amarillo and Sunday nights in Tiger you can expect beer/ciders for around €2-3. These are definitely the places to head if you are up for a cheap student night out – guaranteed you’ll bump into some classmates!
‘Finland is so cold and dark!’
Again, I’m not going to deny this but if you are the kind of person that doesn’t mind the cold it’s definitely not a problem. I have definitely adapted over the months I’ve been here. A pair of thermal leggings under your jeans is always a good idea on the coldest days but generally the temperature stays between -2 and 2 degrees celsius over the coldest part of the year (November – January). Also a plus is the fact that it very rarely rains!
And yes it is dark in the winter, seeing sunlight is incredibly rare but there is light at the end of the tunnel – today it didn’t get dark until 6.30! Spring is definitely on its way!
When you first arrive you will no doubt be warned of ‘winter sad’. Lack of vitamin D from the sun can put some people into a depression known as ‘winter sad’. Some are more susceptible than others but don’t be scared! There are easy ways to avoid it and help yourself. Firstly you should always take vitamin D supplements when you are here. This will keep the level of vitamin D in your body at a healthy level meaning you can avoid winter sad as well as ensuring your body absorbs enough calcium. Secondly, if you do feel low, the medical centre offers free light therapy to boost your vitamin d levels. I personally haven’t experienced this and don’t know anyone that has (showing not everyone gets winter sad!) But other’s general experience of the medical facilities has been fantastic so I’m sure it is equally as good and professional.
’What if I’m homesick?’
On top of winter sad, it is completely normal to have moments where you feel homesick and question why you’re studying abroad. My solution to this is simple – remind yourself why you’re studying abroad! Throw yourself into whatever social events are happening and have fun. Surround yourself with your ‘Erasmus family’ and you’ll soon feel at home. Also don’t be shy to tell your friends how you are feeling – you are all going through the same thing and everyone feels that way at some point. If you tell your friends they can help in reminding you why you’re abroad!
‘What if the courses are too hard?’
First I have to make a disclaimer that I can only speak with authority on law. I also have it on good authority that the situation is similar with politics but other than that I can’t guarantee anything, but I understand the situation to be similar throughout the university.
So to answer the question bluntly – the courses are not going to be too hard!
This is down to a variety of reasons. Firstly you have an open choice of a fair selection of courses so you study what you are interested in, secondly, because of this open choice you can choose times of the year that suit you and, thirdly, there are various types of assessment used so you can choose courses that suit your preference based on what the assessment is.