How Will I Survive in Finland?

This is my first experience of living abroad, and my first experience in Finland. So for anyone who is in the same position (or just looking to add to already acquired knowledge) I am compiling a list of useful information which I hope to add to throughout the year.


  • September – December exchange – If you’re only here for these three months don’t rush out and buy anything fancy – you don’t need to. Essentials include: waterproof shoes, a padded waterproof coat, hat/earmuffs, scarf, thick gloves, thick socks and thermal leggings. If you’re here for the year or get cold easily a pair of ski trousers to wear over jeans can make a world of difference, especially if temperatures drop to -20 or you cycle regularly.
  • January – May exchange – Inside it’s warm, but outside it can be bitter, so be prepared! Make sure you have all of the above, and a really thick coat to top it. Waterproof is best, because if it snows you’ll get wet and even colder, but if you don’t plan on being outside long a thick fabric will do. Bring some extra layers, ones which are easy to remove once you’re inside again and I’d advise buying a decent hat – earmuffs protect your ears, but not your forehead. 
  • Don’t pay too much! – if you don’t plan on using these things after your exchange wait until you get here to buy them and check out the second hand stores. There are plenty, check this map for details. You’ll pay a fraction of the price for good quality clothes; I bought my ski coat for ten euros and it does the job. Padded, waterproof and with a hood.


Getting Around

  • Buy a bike and buy one quickly. Don’t spend too much money and make sure you get a decent lock! There are plenty of bike paths and it’s much quicker than walking. You can cycling in winter but be warned, it can get cold! Make sure you have plenty of layers on and cover your face and ears. Hold onto the maps that you’ll get in orientation – they’ll come in handy.
  • Bus Pass – If you regularly take the bus buy a pass rather than single tickets; at 3.20 euros a journey it all adds up. 
  • Useful bus phrases: to get the bus from the airport say: ‘yliopistolle, kittos’ which means ‘to the university please’. If you’re unsure of pronunciation, click here. To get the bus to the city centre say ‘keskustaan, kiitos’. ‘Keskusta’ means city centre, and if you’re cycling/walking there you’ll need to follow these signs.



  • What to do about a mobile phone? When you arrive there’ll be a Finnish sim card waiting on your desk, just make sure your phone’s unlocked so you can use it. Texts and calls are pretty cheap and it’s easy to reload – just go to an R-Kioski and tell them your phone number.
  • Internet – is fast and accessible all over campus and the city with a free wireless network. Bring a cable for the internet in your apartment because they don’t provide them, and you’ll need to sign your housing contract before you can do that.


Making Life Easier

  • Get a Finnish dictionary asap, and use it to translate your food items to make shopping a little easier. 
  • Talk to people! Everyone is in the same boat and super friendly. Don’t be afraid! The people you meet will make or break your year abroad so get out there and join in.

If anyone has any corrections or other suggestions leave a comment!

3 Responses to “How Will I Survive in Finland?”

  1. Kelly Walker January 24, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Hi, your blog is great! I am due to arrive in Finland myself on Feb 2nd and am grateful of the information here but is there anyway I could contact you directly to ask a few questions? I am only in Finland until Easter as I am doing a research project at the University. Thanks Kelly

    • saramay91 January 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Hi, thank you! I’m trying to figure out how to add a way to contact me without putting my email on the net – if anyone has any tips please chip in =)
      I’m literally about to leave for a weekend trip but will be back Sunday night, I’ll have an answer for you then! =)
      Thanks for stopping by =)

    • saramay91 January 27, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

      Hey Kelly,

      I have set up an email for such queries:

      Email me with your questions and I’ll reply asap =)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: