All the fun in my shared apartment

My single room in the HOAS shared apartment.

I remembered when I received a student housing offer from Hoas and there was not much information about how a shared apartment looked like. I was worried that it’s going to be my first home in a foreign country and what if the roommates are not nice.

Lucky me, those are unnecessary worries. I liked my room immediately when I first arrived. Windows were 4-meter wide, looking into a small green bush. Two Finnish roommates were friendly. The first roommate I met in the hall wall noticed that I just moved across countries and had nothing but two suitcases, kindly offered me to use all her kitchen stuff.

That’s all I had for the first few days in Helsinki. My friend loaned me some beddings before I had time to settle in. I slept on a borrowed mattress and used a sheet as a temporary curtain for more than a week.

The only furniture in my room was this big closet. Not even a light bulb. So the first two nights, I had to use the flashlight on my phone. When I woke up at 3am due to jetlag, I opened my eyes to see that the moon was so bright and the wind blew through the bush, I felt so cold, it seemed I was camping in the woods.

I witnessed the seasonal changes in Finland through big windows in my room.

I particularly love watching snows falling from the sky in the winter, it’s so quiet and beautiful.

Although there’re a lot of places to get second-hand furniture for cheap prices or even for free, I had to buy them all new in the same shop since the new semester already started in Aalto when I arrived. My roommates helped me assemble all my furniture until late at night. I felt so blessed that they have always been kind and lovely since day one.

My room is 16.5 square meters, the whole apartment has 3 single rooms with a shared kitchen, a bathroom, a toilet, and a balcony. The total size is 79 square meters.

My room is big enough to put in a double bed, a big desk, and a nice sofa.  So it is divided into 3 areas for sleep, study and relaxation.

The shared kitchen was equipped with a big refrigerator, stoves, an oven, and cabinets.

There was only a very old table and chairs in the common area in the beginning when we moved in. My roommates spent time and effort in making it much cozier. The sofa and carpet were given away for free.

There are also a sauna, a laundry room, a drying room, two bicycle storage rooms, and a storage area on the ground floor. All tenants can book the sauna, washing machines and a dryer for free via an app. From time to time, we go to the sauna together.

The sauna is very popular.

My roommates and I get along really well. I learned a lot about Finnish culture from them. We celebrated Finnish holidays together and they taught me how to make authentic Finnish holiday food, like baking munkki for Vappu (May Day),  building a ginger house for the first time for Christmas. Of course, I made authentic Taiwanese food to share with them. Also, there are countless nights we just sit in the kitchen chatting about our lives or discussing some serious social issues.

Typical food for Vappu – Munkki & Sima. Cardamom used in munkki gives a lovely fragrant. I love it!

On a sunny summer day, we have an afternoon day on the balcony.

We made birthday cakes together.

From time to time, I invite friends over. These are international cuisines made by my classmates from Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Uruguay, and Brazil.

I enjoyed living in a HOAS shared apartment with my lovely roommates. It made my life so much easier when I settled down in the beginning. Also,  emotional supports from them mean a lot to me when I had bad times. It’s such a lovely home for me.

New students are moving into Espoo or Helsinki to start their first school year at Aalto. Wish all of them a smooth move and a great new chapter in life.

Hsiao-Pei Liao,
MA of Creative Sustainability 

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