How to survive Finnish winter and enjoy it?

Life is about enjoying yourself, not just surviving, and this goes for Finland in winter as well. Winter in Finland can be harsh, too cold, grey and dismal with temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius, up to seven months of snow and ice covering the ground, and fewer than four hours of daylight at peak midwinter,  but the arrival of the cold, dark, snowy winter doesn’t mean life stops. Finns always go to work or school in the morning no matter how cold it is or how much snow has fallen. They have plenty of ways to enjoy the winter season.

So , if you are visiting Finland during the winter, these are some top survival tips to help you not only stay alive but also to enjoy the Finnish winter with the snow-covered trees, magical pastel pink colors of the sky, golden sun light, frozen lakes and Northern Lights.

Dress well

The secret of spending time outdoors in the winter is to make sure you are dressed properly. Finns wear thick trousers during the winter with long-johns underneath. On your top half, you will need a thick jumper, preferably one made of wool, and a good snow proof coat. Special attention must be given to protecting the feet, hands and head from the cold. Nothing will ruin the fun of outdoor activities faster than frozen feet. Gloves should be roomy with a warm lining. Headgear should protect the ears properly, and in very cold weather a silk balaclava is excellent for protecting the face. Remember the Finnish saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Go to Sauna

Sauna is one of the most popular activities in Finland where there are more than 3 million saunas in total. In winter, the sauna is a great place for warming up frozen fingers and toes. It is a place for relaxation, tranquility and deep thought. The sauna experience includes escape from the tensions of everyday life to another reality, towards calm and contentment. Some say that having a dip in a hole in the ice of a lake or the sea is one of the joys of a waterside sauna in winter. It will certainly improve your circulation, and at the very least, make you feel refreshingly alive!

Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle

During cold and dark winter days, it is extremely common that you feel lazy all the time. To maintain good brain health, try to include a lot of vegetables and fruits in your meals. It’s also crucial to take vitamin D supplements every day, as the absence of sunlight can even make you feel dizzy at times.

Do sports

Don’t forget to exercise frequently. Bouldering, gym and the swimming pool will help to cheer you up on cold and dark days. As a bonus, you get a healthy body, productive attitude and positive mind-set. Yoga is also a great workout regime for reducing stress and allowing for greater relaxation.  It can be done from your home or in a classroom.

Escape your room

It can be quite boring and even depressing sometimes to stay at home on winter evenings when it gets dark at 3 pm. Get outside every time you see the sun actually shining. This is crucial to your well-being! There are not too many sunny days, and especially during the wintertime all of them should be appreciated and enjoyed outside. Besides – the sunny winter days are spectacular! Go wandering in the forest or to the seaside and admire the sunset colors.

Walking on ice

Nobody likes taking the risk of falling over on the ice and looking like an idiot, but it is unavoidable to get around during the winter. There is a trick to walking on ice, however. Walking at a regular pace doesn’t distribute the body weight in the correct way to stay upright on ice. The trick is to take short, quick steps, much like the way that penguins walk. You may still fall over from time to time, but locals expect this so they won’t laugh at you.

 Watch ice hockey

Finns really love this sport and if you ask them which ice hockey team is the best, they’re going to answer “Finland”, of course. If you live with Finns prepare yourself to watch all the match and shout with them “SUOMI, SUOMI, SUOMI!!!”

Winter health

As strange as it may feel, remember to breathe through your mouth rather than your nose when it is cold outside. This is because breathing in cold air through your nose and breathing out warm air can cause the blood vessels in your nose to rupture, giving you a nosebleed. Short hours of daylight combined with isolation and dreary weather can cause a feeling of physical and mental exhaustion and lack of motivation. These symptoms are normally felt during the early winter and are usually temporary, easing off once the body becomes more accustomed to the winter. It is difficult to get up when it is so dark outside, but doing so and going for a half-hour walk every morning will expose the body to sunlight and provide enough energy to get through the day. Light therapy lamps can also simulate sunlight and are easy to find online.

Enjoy the Snow

What a fantastic feeling to wake up one morning in the late autumn and look out of the window to see that the first snow has fallen! Children waste no time rushing outside to make their first snowmen and find the nearest sledging hill, while adults dig out their winter sports equipment. Other key sports are the various branches of alpine skiing, snowboarding and freestyle skiing. The latter are relatively new sports but they have rapidly become big favourites among the young and daring. Ice skating is another national pastime, like cross-country skiing. 

Gather with friends

This might sound like a cliché, but hanging out with friends is one of the best ways to overcome the winter depression. Friends can have a great impact on your emotions, especially during winter. Just make spontaneous plans, meet at someone’s place, cook together, have some drinks and watch some movies.

Text: Basma Ragab (International Student Ambassador)

To Finland, with love.

Hello everybody!

My name is Laura and I am the tutor for the students who will join the Master’s in Neuroscience at the University of Helsinki.

First of all, congratulations on being accepted at the University of Helsinki!! I remember when I received the news I got in. Oh the excitement… and the panic! There’s nothing quite like the moment when you realise that what you were wishing for has become true. The joy and the fear become one and it’s almost difficult to tell them apart.

Every new experience can be scary, and for many of you this might be your first time in Finland. Not to worry, though. There are tutors here ready to welcome you and help you figure it all out 😊. You might have already received an email from your faculty tutor. If not, no worries, you will soon.

This is a message for you all, to remind you that you are not alone. Many new students join the University of Helsinki every year, and even us tutors have been in your place before. We understand there is a variety of things you might need help with, and that’s why we will be guiding you to make sure you can start your studies without any trouble.

We will help you finding offices and getting all the papers you need. You’ll need to register and get a residence permit, you’ll need an HSL card to use public transport and you’ll need help to discover all the benefits that students get (yes, you’ll see that you can get discounts in so many places, shops included 😉 ). We are here to guide you and tell you which offices to go to, we can answer your questions about everyday life in Finland, we can give you some hints on how to survive sauna and Finnish winter.

No need to fear, this is (hopefully :P) going to be one of those experiences you’ll cherish for the rest of your lives. I’m sure you are going to have a lot of fun discovering all the beauties of this wonderful country 😊 .

Warm hugs from Helsinki to you all and see you soon!

Cheers,

Laura Failla

Finding work in Finland!

My name is Alexandra, I graduated from the University of Helsinki Faculty of Law (International Business Law master degree) in May 2017. In this blog post, I want to take you through one of the most exciting journeys I encountered during my master studies, that is, making the first steps in the career!

During almost two years of my master studies (I started in August 2015), I managed to find my first summer job in Finland, working as a legal trainee across two countries and doing pro bono work as a student-lawyer and then as a tutor of Helsinki Law Clinic. As any (international) student, I was drowning in a flow information about job, internship and trainee possibilities from very first days of my studies at the Faculty of Law, during orientation week. Of course, writing about exciting intellectual property protection cases or tax analysis would be too specific, so I decided to come up with some universal advice that sheds some light on employment possibilities for international students that the University of Helsinki helps to achieve. Continue reading “Finding work in Finland!”

February Fun and Frolicks!

Text and photos: International Student Ambassador Coordinator Sara Haapanen

You may have noticed that the shops are bursting with cakes right now, and unless you’re on a diet it’s a time to indulge a little. And of course, there is a reason behind it all.

You have probably seen some little golden brown almond towers topped with a blob of raspberry jam and a circle of icing, these are called Runeberg cakes. Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804–1877) is the national poet of Finland, the author of a poem which is now proudly the lyrics of the Finnish national anthem. Legend had it that his wife made him these cakes and they are produced every year as a little celebration. He has his own flag day too, 5th February, so eat cake and give a little toast to Finnish history. Continue reading “February Fun and Frolicks!”

New Student – Make sure you come to the Welcome Fair!

January is almost here, which means we are getting impatient to meet all our new international students here at the University of Helsinki!

Your student experience at the University of Helsinki will begin with a visit to the Welcome Fair on January 10, 2018, as well as your Faculty orientation. Please note that you will need to take part in both! Remember to bring your official ID (passport, ID card or residence permit) with you to the Welcome Fair!

The Welcome Fair is the perfect place to get to know the University and the Campuses as well as to get all the official matters out of the way. The venue for the Welcome Fair is the Language Centre of the University of Helsinki (address: Fabianinkatu 26). Please see our Welcome Fair and orientation week map for locations. Continue reading “New Student – Make sure you come to the Welcome Fair!”

Libraries at the University of Helsinki

Text and Photo: International Student Ambassador Esther Veas

Libraries are the cornerstone of any university student’s degree, especially when writing essays or studying independently. The University of Helsinki has four libraries, one in each campus:

Continue reading “Libraries at the University of Helsinki”

Autumn

Text: International Student Ambassador Min Wang

Hi everybody! This is the best time to experience the autumn of Helsinki. Trees are getting colorful and appealing now. A little bit raining day may let you down but anyway you deserve to hang out for a while and explore some interesting things to do. Here are some suggestions and hope you like them.

Continue reading “Autumn”

Exams are here!

Text: International Student Ambassador Iftekhar Chowdhury

The Finnish education system is considered to be the best in the world for many reasons. This praise stems from the main aim of the system: bridge the gap between different pupils by making them more responsible for their own education and provide them with the necessary skills to become an upstanding individual of the society. It is a holistic approach towards education and life. It made Finland became a beacon for better education in the world arena. Finnish University education is a reflection of these principles. One important part in any educational experience are exams or tests or Tentti (“test” in Finnish). Unfortunately, one has to take exams at University level to better align ourselves with the world education system.

Exams are stressful at times (Yes, Even in Finland). Examination process is not uniform around the world and can be extra stressful for people who are not familiar with them. Let me be your guide and I will try to explain it as briefly as I can.

Continue reading “Exams are here!”

Ask me!

Welcome new students!

The beginning of the academic year is almost here and more than 250 staff members of the Student Services are waiting for you to arrive! During the past year we have had some big changes in the degree programmes and University Services. We want to make sure that you will find us easily and have no hesitation to ask us anything. You will recognize us from the pink t-shirts with the text ASK ME!

Where is my lecture room or the nearest UniCafe located? Where can I borrow books or find a quiet place to study? You can also turn to our academic staff in many of your questions. That’s why we have challenged them to wear pink ASK ME! pin badges. Don’t hesitate to ask!

We are looking forward to meeting you!

Career paths: Peter works full-time for Leadfeeder, a Finnish startup

Name: Peter Seenan
Study Field: MA political science (Erasmus)
Employer and position: Head of content, Leadfeeder

Why did you choose to study at The University of Helsinki?

– No one else from the University of Edinburgh in 2004 was coming to University of Helsinki
– I loved the idea of being something of an outlier
– Finland and Helsinki had a good reputation for education
– I loved the idea of the Nordics and I liked the idea of experiencing something radically different from life at home
– I thought it was fantastic that I could study in English at a Finnish university; this reduced the risks that my grades might suffer because of language difficulties
– People told me Finland was a wonderful place
– I wanted an adventure and I liked the sound of Finnish values
– I always wanted to go on exchange
just some of the reasons… Continue reading “Career paths: Peter works full-time for Leadfeeder, a Finnish startup”