New to Helsinki?

Welcome to Finland, what a fine choice you have made. Check out our PDF guide to Helsinki and read more about Helsinki living and student culture below.

Helsinki Living

Different organizations and links are collected here to give you some ideas on ways to not only survive but THRIVE in Helsinki.

Orientation: There are 8 major districts in Helsinki, divided into 34 sub-districts. These can also be divided into numerous smaller divisions or sorted into neighborhoods. The best way to get to know Helsinki is by walking or biking, but to get a better sense of its orientation, refer to the following map:

Transportation: For both planning journeys and getting monthly transit cards (show your student ID for a discount) check out the HSL website here.

Housing: Hopefully you have your housing situation sorted, but if not you can find student housing through HOAS.

Events: There’s always events being organized both professionally and socially all around Helsinki. We recommend the following websites: MyHelsinki, VisitFinland, and University of Helsinki Events. Following the Facebook pages of groups you are interested in is also a great way to stay informed, see for example CISSI (that’s us!) and Kannunvalajat.

Student Culture

Exams: Whether written or via essay, evaluations in Finland are much less stressful and the focus is on learning the material completely. It’s often a possibility to arrange for another sitting if you are not satisfied with your grade. Regardless, it’s important to communicate with your instructors and take care of your own mental health!

What’s with these overalls? Based on a Swedish tradition that came to Finland around 30 years ago, many university students buy and wear overalls in the color of their discipline. You can purchase them from your faculty (if you’re in the social sciences, CISSI will advertise the sale to its members) and decorate them with patches from different organizations and events. One key rule: never ever wash your overalls!

Vappu (Valborg): the largest student festivity falls on April 30 and May 1 every year. It celebrates the national holiday, Labour Day. University students typically wear their overalls and white graduation caps to the central park. Make sure you are in town!