Finland is like a wonderland in the winter.

Approaching Santa’s hometown Rovaniemi. The landscape sealed by the snow makes a natural black and white scene.

This week is the ski holiday in the southern Finland. I took a chance to visit Lapland for the second time after three years. In the winter, Finland is like a wonderland. The nature is stunning! In a 4-day trip, luckily I saw the northern lights, nailed the snowboarding for the first time, and hiked in the beautiful Pyhä-Luosto National Park.

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Winter Arts – Lux Helsinki

This year Lux Architecture series highlights the Finlandia Hall. The video and music created an enormous flowing water scene in the winter night to address the significant issue that water resources are exhaustible. The art work is created by Ramboll Valostudio.

Every January, the most exciting winter arts activity, Lux Helsinki lights up different corners across the city. Each year, City of Helsinki chose different district to be the main focus for the annual light arts festival. It is brilliant to bring citizens and tourists to learn the dynamics in different areas of Helsinki.

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How much money do you need to study in Finland?

For many applicants, the financial aspect is the most important. I decided to summarize the living costs of studying in Finland. How much is the rent? Food, transport, visa?

I will not include tuition fees here. Please, check yourself whether you have to pay those. If you do, you might get a grant and end up not paying any.

This is what you get for lunch for 2.60€. A glass of milk, bread with hummus, rice with chicken in curry sauce, salad, beans. You can get more, I just don’t eat so much 🙂

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How to survive the winter in Finland?

The water is frozen in the winter.

All my family and my friends in Taiwan are concerned that I will be freezing into an icicle when the snow season starts in Finland. Well, their concerns are not nonsense, considering that the lowest temperature during the winter time in Taiwan is only about +6°.

I thought I would be wearing much more here than what I used to in Taiwan. Actually, not that case. It’s still three layers, but certainly all the clothes are selected to fit the cold climate in Finland. For me, the first layer is the most important one, a fitted long-sleeve T-shirt with quick drying function. The second layer is usually a sweater. The last layer is a proper waterproof winter jacket. In the cold climate, waterproof wear is crucial from head to toe. Helsinki is quite a windy city. The wind can make one feel much colder than the real temperature. These three layers can get me through even -15°.

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Does everyone really speak English here?

“Oh I would love to move to Finland but I can’t. I do not know Finnish.”

 

That is a bad excuse! English is more than enough.

If you go to the countryside, things might be a little different, but in the cities, you basically do not need Finnish at all. Nearly 20% of the students at Aalto are not Finnish. Considering only Masters students, the number is much higher. In practice, this means international events and parties almost daily!

-20 degrees outside but so pretty!                         21 Jan 2019, Aalto campus

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Happy New Year

New Year fireworks in Senate Square.

Last night I went to see the New Year Eve’s show in the Senate Square. When I arrived around 11pm, it’s easy to walk around the crowd and reach a nice position in front of the stage. Comparing to my past experience in Sydney and Taipei, to be able to get a great view, one needed to be there hours before the fireworks started. Only until the fireworks was done, everyone was leaving the square, I experienced the most crowded moment in Helsinki. For the first time, I was pushed around by the crowd in Finland.

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Make Friends for Life. Change the Game.

“I was warned that Finland is cold and people hard to make friends with. First one was true, but the second one – not at all. Finns just have their own way to open up. In the end, they will build an authentic relationship with you.”

– Manuel Barrantes, Friend of Finns & Creative Sustainability student

Get more than a degree at Aalto University. Application for Master’s programmes 3 Dec 2018–11 Jan 2019 and for English Bachelor’s programmes 9–23 Jan 2019. Find your own programme and apply.

 

How to deal with Finnish professors?

Professor-student relationships in Finland are not constrained by formal conventions. THERE IS NO HIERARCHY. Well, formally there is. There are titles as usual: MSc (Master of Science), PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), Professor, Head of the Department, etc. But in reality, people are not respected for having any of these titles. They are respected by students for being intelligent, approachable, friendly or even funny.

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Why Finland?

The beautiful bay in Lammassaari. The nature in Helsinki is stunning.

During my presentation about Aalto University and my student life in Finland, one participant asked, “Who do you choose Finland instead of the United States?”

Why Finland among other countries? First of all, Finland is the happiest and the most stable country in 2018. Before that, she has been on the top 10 list constantly. Secondly, Finland has the world-known first-class education. Thirdly, I am curious that how a small country can achieve so much.  

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How to settle down for new Aalto students

Share my experience in Aalto and Finland with new students in Taiwan and others who are
interested in applying for future study. © YANG,LI-FANG

First of all, Congratulations! Welcome to Aalto!

I’ve been participating in webinars and chats to answer questions from new students for several times. I’d like to share my experience and some useful information for new students about how to settle down.

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