Hello Helsinki!

Published by flag- C Helsinki — 8 years ago

Blog: Hello Helsinki!
Tags: Erasmus tips

The first day as an Erasmus student in Helsingin Yliopisto, or the University of Helsinki, invoved going to the the main campus on Yliopistonkatu 3 which was luckily located very close to the main train station, as was the majority of the main campus and libraries. 

We were all brought into a large lecture hall where we were divided into our sperate groups. There were at least 250 students at a guess which I was very surprised by. 

I was even more surprise, and not in a good way, when I foudn out that instead of being in the Arts department as I had been told I was in fact in the Theology department. Say what? I had never studied Theology in my life and had no intentions to start now. There were an entire total of three Erasmus students in the Theology department. Great. Me and two other girls, both German and both lovely fortunately. We had an Erasmus student coordinator to look after us and I naturally told her I wasn't actally a Theology student but as it turned out it didn't really matter. I was allowed to choose whatever subjects I wished to study so the department was really just a base for me. We did meet some really great Theologians, and it was my first introduction to the fun-loving Finns! One thing to remember is that the majority of Finns are very reserved and keep to themselves. This took quite a bit of getting used to but by the end of it I loved their respect for others personal space. They rarely spoke unless spoken to and were very aware of keeping a respectful distance from others. It ws quite a shock to the system when I arrived back to Dublin after a few months in Finland. The lack of personal space, the jostling, the loud voices, the pushing and shoving all very intrusive and it took me a while to adjust back to the old ways.

But Finnish people love to drink! Boy do they love to drink :) And unfortunately not always in a social situation. Perhaps its a symptom of the extreme weather or the lack of sun in the winter months but it was often not unusual to see an average 45 year old well dressed woman fall off a train alone and drunk. It was a sad side to the Finns that I hadn't imagined. But socially Finns were great. I found them funny, friendly and enthusiastic when in a social environment and I greatly enjoyed my time with them. The university and Theology Department were great for organising Erasmus evenings, university parties, club nights and activity days. It was one of the greatest achievements of ESN, Erasmus Student Network, in Helsinki. They constantly had parties organised in the city centre, and day trips or overnight trips to nearby countries more of which I will discuss in another post. 

The first night a party was organised in Royal Onnela Club which was the biggest club in Helsinki. I'm not sure if Royal Onnela still exists in Helsinki, I'm struggling to find it on Google :( But this party was an introduction for all Erasmus students. I went with my two housemates and we were each given a badge with our home country on it. We then mingled with other students to meet and introduce ourselves. I was lucky enough at this party to meet two Irish girls and a Scottish girl. They would later become some of the best friends I still have. If I can give one of piece of advice for a party like this is to inrtoduce yourself to as many people as possible. It can be difficult because unfortunately some people tend to stick in big groups. The Spanish tend to stick together, as do the French, Italians and the German, of which there can be big groups.  But it is important to remember that everyone is in the same position and tend to be very welcoming when someone attempts to start a conversation with them. I was fortunate that one of the girls was living in the building next to me. I would later realise that there were in fact a wealth of Erasmus students in our area.

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