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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Vappu -Experience Authentic Finnish Culture

Annual bubble shower for the mermaid statue, Havis Amanda.

Everyone was talking about Vappu even weeks before May Day. There were big numbers in Otaniemi campus, counting down to Vappu. In the beginning, I was really confused about why people were so excited about May 1st, International Labour Day. In my home country Taiwan, it’s the day that labor rights are under examination, sometimes there is a labour protest against the government, not a day for cheerful celebration. Also, university students in Taiwan have nothing to do with Labour Day, simply enjoy a day off without special activities.

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Journey to a teekkari cap

The teekkari cap is an auspicious symbol of the teekkari (technical student) lifestyle. It has a very rich history dating back to 1893. It is a summer cap which can be worn from 1st May (wappu) to 30th September. Special permission is required to wear the cap outside of these dates. But what if you were not born and raised in Finland? Does it mean you can never get this cap? Well, not really.

But in order to get the cap you should first integrate with Finnish culture, most importantly teekkari culture. So as a student at Aalto, you can get the teekkari point card from your respective guild and start filling in the points by attending a variety of events and doing a whole bunch of different things that are part of the teekkari lifestyle. The points on the card are divided into different sections, and I’ll go over all the sections and major events required to get a teekkari cap.

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A glimpse of last autumn’s orientation week

My study semester at Aalto University started with orientation week. During my bachelor’s studies, I had the experience of orientation ‘day’ back in my home university in Pakistan. A typical orientation day included enrolment tasks, talks about university value and code of conduct and a brief tour of the campus. So orientation ‘week’ made me wonder what to expect and it included all the right things to start the semester, starting from enrollment to a lot of parties.

Orientation week at Aalto has two kinds of activities.

Photo by Roee Cohen

Photo by Roee Cohen

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Finland Winter – A time for reflection

I come from a Asian country where the sun shine 12 hour a day year-round. There, I also spent the first 24 year of my life in the same town, thus the frequency of encountering an acquaintance every time you head out is more than twice a day.

If you are like me, then the difference you gonna experience when you come to Finland, where people like to keep things within themselves and prefer spending their vacation in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, is quite drastic. For me, that means having a lot more time spent with myself on my own, because Finns, or at least the ones I met, are mostly introverts and not quite proactive in getting to know others. Couple that with the fact that winter here last from November to March, with an average of 6 hours of sunlight daily, I guess it would be useful to consider the challenges and rewards of having lots of time, without much sunlight to cheer you up (winter scenery here is breathtaking in daytime, though), and not having too many local friends to hangout.
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