After acceptance, what to prepare?

So, you have got an offer from the University of Helsinki? Congratulations!

But… What are you going to do this summer? How to get prepared for the coming new life? There is so much information out there on the web and they come from all aspects. What to listen to? Where’s the starting point?

Maybe you should just forget it – it’s too confusing!

Well… hold up! I used to be a freshman too. I had the same problems. Now, after encountering numerous problems, I know a ton about the entire process and the possible pitfalls. I’m also a trained tutor this year in the Department of Computer Science. Let me tell you some practical tips to guarantee your easy new life.

Arrange your housing

Hoas is the largest student housing organization in Helsinki. An unfurnished apartment only has a wardrobe in the bedroom, with a refrigerator and oven in the kitchen. You can now submit your application on Hoas website four months before you intend to move in. This used to be three months. You can specify your preference on the housing in the comment section of the application, such as “I’d like to live near train station” or “I want to live in Viikki(area)”. Your words will definitely be considered.

The furnished apartments are in certain locations and specially designed for international students. It’s easier to move to a furnished apartment offer comparing to unfurnished one. You can check the details from here. However, the furnished apartment is fixed for one year, which means you have to apply again the next year and get yourself a new apartment offer, while the unfurnished apartment contract does not have a fixed term. The distribution of apartment offers is based on a “first come, first serve” principle, with the consideration of the priority level of the applicant. Fortunately, new students are of the highest priority level, so just catch up with time. After you receive an offer, DO NOTE to pay the deposit as soon as possible, especially for non-EU students, because of the currency exchange and the longer international processing time. In China, it takes at least three bank days for the money to arrive in a foreign bank account.

In addition, there are always many other choices. For example, the studios offered by Unihome are also very good. But do pay attention, if you didn’t receive an apartment offer one month before your arrival, no need to panic, just get yourself a plan B. Firstly, check the other housing options on the housing webpage, for example, there are apartments only open to the forestry students. Secondly, there are a great number of students subleasing their rooms or apartments on Facebook groups and other portals. Normally these rooms are furnished. Lastly, if you want to wait for the offer, I suggest you take a look at the short-term housing, such as Forenom. The price is reasonable and more affordable than ordinary hotels.

Get connected

By the time I was trying to prepare myself for Finland, and the 10-hour flight, I often felt at a loss or stuck with a problem which can’t be solved by myself. Then I managed to get in touch with some other students who were also going to studying in Finland. It’s wonderful to get connected to others, either peers or senior students who are already here. You can use social media to look for the student organization from your country or freshman like you, after which you would never struggle alone. Trust me, there are so many students as confused as you who are eager to get connected. In addition, you can try to contact senior students from your department, most students here are willing to share and help. Moreover, each freshman has a tutor to get help from – tutors are also students from UH who volunteered to guide the new students through the orientation time and provide them with long-term assistance. Getting connected also means get ready for possible culture shock and a totally different lifestyle, I suggest you follow some blogger from Finland as well as the official social media accounts.

The Bank card

I think the financial issues are of vital importance,  especially to us non-EU students, because we have a currency exchange to deal with. To open a local bank account in Finland as an international student, you have to first register at the population office here, register as attendance in UH, and at last, you can go to the bank with all the papers needed. The processing time of the bank takes at least two weeks. Therefore it’s much more convenient if you have a valid card with you in the very beginning. Apply for a VISA or MasterCard of your own, either credit or debit card is good.

Additionally, it is better to apply for the card yourself, instead of using a secondary card of your family. When I arrived here last year, I only had a secondary card from my mother. Then when I was at IKEA and ready to pay for my furniture, I was told that it’s illegal to use other’s credit card, and they reserve the right to expropriate it unless the owner of the card shows up. I was so embarrassed at that time because my mom was not there, obviously, and I didn’t bring anything with me to prove my mom is my mom. Luckily, I got a friend going with me and he lends me some money. Using a card is always safer than bringing a large amount of cash, especially when you can pay for the housing rent with your credit card here.

Most importantly, take the official newsletters seriously! they always deliver the best information at the right time, telling you what to follow up with.

And that’s it! I’m more than confident that your starting time here should be smooth and enjoyable. Always feel free to ask for help or consultation, I strongly advise HYY(student union of UH)  and their website where you can find most of the answers to your problems. If by some unfortunate circumstance you get stuck or have any questions, you can just get in touch with us.

Enjoy the summer!



A roof over your head in Finland!

Come spring all the lucky and talented students who had applied at the University of Helsinki will receive their acceptance letters. Congratulations! We will be so glad to have you here with us. Go on, accept your study place and book your tickets for the incredible journey you are about to begin. But remember to apply for housing well ahead in time so that you may have a roof over your head (place to stay?) when you begin your studies in fall.

Continue reading “A roof over your head in Finland!”

Not Getting Lost in Law in Helsinki

Hey! My name is Alexandra, I am a second-year master degree student at International Business Law programme. I run my own Lostinlaw blog ( Today I am going to tell you how not to get “lost in law” actually in Finland. I base my observations on my common sense, a couple of years of experience of working in legal/related field and my experience of being an international student myself.

First, a couple of general advice. You shall remember that it is impossible to know EVERYTHING about the risks you may possibly meet when renting your first apartment in Finland, signing your first work contract in Finland or opening a bank account. But you should always ask yourself following questions:

Continue reading “Not Getting Lost in Law in Helsinki”

Tips: applying for housing


My name is Jibril Taufiq Iddriss and I am currently one of the University of Helsinki’s International Student Ambassadors. I am passionate about helping students out, especially those coming from Africa with a different culture and outlook on life.

By now, most of you are just jumping up and down telling the whole town or on a lighter note village that you have received an admission into the University of Helsinki. University of Helsinki is one of the 100th best universities in the world. All said and done, you are told to apply for accommodation as soon as possible from this site ( or any other sources provided by the university website. Continue reading “Tips: applying for housing”

Are you looking for a flat? Or a flatmate? Visit the Find a Flatmate! event on August 29th

Find a Flatmate! event on August 29th, 2013, 3-7 p.m. at Think Corner, Porthania, Yliopistokatu 3 brings together landlords and students in need for a flat/mate to connect and get to know each other.

It’s also a great place to find information on the housing market, renting and letting. You can ask questions directly from the professionals – representatives of institutions, companies and organisation connected to the housing market. And if you happen to have a room or a flat you’d like to let for short-term or long-term you can come and meet potential tenants face to face.

Read more about the event and register for it at the Helsinki Region Welcome Weeks website! You can also contact Aino Jones, Helsinki Education and Research Area – HERA ( for more information about the event.

Housing Option for Master’s Degree Students

We have a brand new housing option especially for Master’s degree students: apartments right in the heart of the city on Hietaniemenkatu 14 and within good connections on Ida Aalbergin tie 1 for a reasonable price!

The apartments are reserved for students that have been accepted to complete a Master’s Degree at the University of Helsinki and are moving to Finland from another country. The deadline for the applications is 12th of July 2013. The residence period is from September 1st 2013 to May 31st 2014 with a fixed-term contract.

Read more about applying on our website!

Home sweet home!

“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. Continue reading “Home sweet home!”

The ABC of Finnish Bureaucracy

Are you aware of your rights as tenant? Would you like to know more about
working life in Finland, housing possibilities or welfare services? Counselling Centre Ne-Rå and Kalliola Adult Learning Centre organize The ABC of Finnish bureaucracy for foreigners. Those who have arrived to Finland for example for work, studies or marriage would benefit from the

The ABC of Finnish Bureaucracy
Thurdays 17-20
at Kalliola, Sturenkatu 11

Join the course at Kalliola and discuss and learn more about Finnish society and welfare system. The course will be held in English and it is free of charge Enrolments: or you can just drop in.

For more information: info(at)

No housing offer yet?

No flat before arriving in Helsinki?

If you need a temporary housing in Helsinki you can try booking a bed from CheapSleep hostel for prize 22e/night. The beds can be reserved on beforehand or onsite via hostel’s web site by using special booking codes.

If you want to book the bed before arriving to Helsinki please use booking code “STUDENT”.

NOTE: Hostel’s booking calendar will show the beds available only after you have typed in the booking code in the box on the right corner of the page.

Find a flat, Mate!

30 August, 16.00-19.00, Think Corner, Aleksanterinkatu 7

Find a flat, Mate! is an event for international students looking for an apartment and for landlords looking for a reliable tenant for a longer or shorter period of time. This event is targeted to the international students who have faced difficulties in finding a place to stay in Finland and also for people who are looking for a new tenant, subtenant, flat mate or simply want to offer a place to stay overnight.

The goal is to share information about how to find a flat in Finland and to find solutions for acute housing problems. Lyyra, HOAS, Forenom, Ne-Rå Councelling centre and CheapSleep hostel are also present to share first hand tips about housing in Finland.

HOAS on Facebook

HOAS customer service is also on Facebook with up-to-date information about the housing situation.

Housing in Helsinki

Dear all new students,

We would like to remind you once more about how important it is to search for housing here in Helsinki through all possible channels. A good guidebook for this can be found at our housing webpages, please do read the Housing Guide carefully through!

Are you going to apply for housing through HOAS, the largest provider of students flats here in Helsinki? Are you looking for a flat in the city centre with a maximum rent of 250 euro? Hope not, as such housing does not exist…  Please, do not narrow down the suitable housing options on the application form. If you choose only a few parts of the city that you are willing to live in and accept only a maximum rent of 300 euro, your chances of getting a housing offer from HOAS are not that good. We are more than aware that our students’ budgets are limited, but it is still better to accept any housing offer so that you have a place to stay when you arrive in Helsinki. After you have settled down, you can always start looking for a cheaper option. Btw, HOAS is now also on Facebook so if you have questions to HOAS please post them at their FB pages.

If you are arriving in the beginning of September and haven’t heard from HOAS by mid-August, then it is time to check some other short-term housing options, e.g.the CheapSleep hostel. You can use the booking code STUDENT in their reservation system at in order to get a discount (the booking code is active starting from June 1, 2012).

Also put the date 30 August in your calendar. Find a flat, Mate! is an event for international students looking for an apartment and for landlords looking for a reliable tenant for a longer or shorter period of time. More information about the event, place and date is available at the Helsinki Region Welcome Weeks pages.

We hope that this writing did not scare you off and that everything goes well with your preparations. We are very much looking forward to seeing you all here in Helsinki!