“Student housing situation in Helsinki is difficult!” I have heard, but, luckily for me, my journey to the place I now call home went very smoothly.
It was very early April a year ago, when I received an email conveying the good news of me being accepted to the International Master Degree studies at the University of Helsinki. Even though this notice was nothing I could yet touch, the whole Helsinki-experience ahead of me suddenly became tangible; I realized that in a few months my everyday life would be so different from the one I was living. For it to be a good one, I still had to find a place to live.
Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region (HOAS) is the largest student housing provider in the greater Helsinki region, and one can apply for the apartments they provide earliest four months before the start of the studies, so I did. Two months after filling the online application form I got an offer from HOAS, which I did not feel like rejecting – the rent for a room in a shared apartment was less than 300 euros a month, which is almost as low as it gets in Helsinki, and, what is more, the apartment was located just 5 kilometers away from my campus in Viikki, so I could already supplement my daily life-to-be with some cycling journeys to school and back.
Now that I actually make those journeys daily, I am wondering how lucky I am. Not only I can go basically everywhere in Helsinki by bike due to the extensive network of cycling paths, even more importantly – it is always lovely to come back home. I have a huge sunny room (maybe even too sunny some days) in an apartment I share with three other girls: a Chinese, a Lithuanian, and a Finn. They are all sufficiently tidy, friendly and very different, thus there is something to learn from each other all the time. It is usually kitchen where we meet and “have a cup of laughter and a bowl of smiles”. I must have won a lottery with them.
It should be noted that one must enter the lottery to be able to win it, thus do not forget to apply for the housing as early as possible, follow the instructions and be patient. Remember that it may take months to receive an answer from your possible housing provider. But, hopefully, it is worth it.
Text and pictures by International Student Ambassador Dina Nitisa