Why did you choose Finland?
What happened was that I was applying for a few universities when I was still back home in India. I didn’t want to go to other English-speaking countries like Australia or New Zealand as they are crowded by many Indians. I thought that in those countries I can’t get the full exposure to foreign people and cultures. On the other hand, I’ve always wanted to come to Europe, as it has a very diverse culture and history. So I ended up choosing Europe for my studies instead!
I was looking into some free universities in Germany, and I also applied for Belgium and Sweden as well. I did not consider Finland at first. But then my consultant told me: “Apply for Finland as well, as it’s a very good country. It has a low population, you can settle there. Finland has many opportunities in the future and the education system is really good.” So I did some research about Finland and decided to give it a try. I have not regretted that decision!
Application – timeline and process
The process of applying to Finland really depends on the person. I got my residence permit really fast, in less than 2 weeks. And the residence permit was granted for 2 years straight. For me this was easy because of my passport – I’ve traveled in many countries before. When applying for a residence permit, it really helps if you have traveled to a lot before and if you can show the right kind of income in your bank. Good documents and clear records help you to get the residence permit fast.
Arriving in Finland
My story is really interesting! In September 2019 I was waiting for my results from one German university. However, I got a rejection as I had expected. Then I only had 2 options: I could go to Sweden or I could go to Finland. My consultant told me “Finland is a good choice – just go to Finland” so I just went with his gut. I applied for the residence permit, and here I am now in Lappeenranta!
Finnish culture: Finns are truly happy people
After I had got the admission decision to LUT and applied for the residence permit, I started to a research on everything. What is the culture like, how are the Finnish people, and so on. At first I got the impression that people would be a bit challenging. But when I came here, I wondered why I had been thinking from a negative perspective. It’s been 5 months since I moved to Finland – and I still feel so welcomed! I love the people here; they’re so silent, they’re so calm. They do their own thing and don’t bother anybody. They’re really happy.
If you have a problem, for example finding an address or something, Finnish people are really helpful. Once I was traveling on a bus, I had no idea about the rules, my study advisor was not there and I was alone. I needed to run some errands, but my wifi wasn’t working and I was getting confused of where to go. But then there was a guy who showed me the area and walked with me for almost a kilometer to show me the way. Then when I asked him where is he going himself, he said he needs to catch another bus but he had got off to help me. That was a really really nice gesture of him! I was so touched to find out that he had taken that time to help me.
Since then, I started to get to know the Finnish culture. The Sauna! The Sauna is the most beautiful thing here. I’m now going to the Sauna twice a week. I get to socialize with many different people, the Finnish and the international students. The students from other universities are diverse. There are many European students in Finland who take part in the Erasmus program. At my campus, we have many nationalities here and I get to meet a lot of people from Germany, from France, everywhere! You name a country, I have a friend from there! I am so happy that I chose Finland.
Challenges and adjustments
One small letdown has been the weather. They told me that this has been the warmest winter in ages, and I’m still freezing to death! They told me it could go as low as -25°C degrees. I was like what?! How can you live in -25°C? I come from a country where the summer temperatures pass +50°C degrees. In Finland it has been the opposite. At first I thought I couldn’t do it. But now that I’ve been going to the Sauna and blending into the culture of these people, I don’t think it’s that cold anymore at all.
Learning the Finnish language
The most difficult part of settling in is the Finnish language. I have been trying to learn the language, and I have caught up with a few words to make some basic conversation. But it’s hard to learn the language. You don’t understand most of it, as the Finnish language is not connected to any Scandinavian languages. It’s not close to Swedish, it’s not close to Norwegian, it’s not close to any other languages like Latin either. It’s a new language and hard for me to understand. But I’m trying to make an effort, to catch up, trying to learn. People are helping me out here. So far, so good.
Finding jobs and opportunities in Finland
One more thing I just want to tell you is that it can be hard to find jobs here in Lappeenranta. That’s the most challenging part for me. They do come up with some job fairs here at the university. In Lappeenranta it is definitely more challenging, but in Helsinki you can easily find a job. Maybe because it’s the capital of Finland and so many people there, you may find any kind of job in Helsinki.
To be precise, LUT University was the only option for me in Finland. I tried to apply to other Finnish universities, but my requirements didn’t match on those. LUT University matched my requirements so I thought, okay, I’m going to LUT!
Advice to foreign students planning to study abroad
I could probably say with my hand on my heart: studying in Finland is going to give you good exposure to the foreign culture you always wanted. If you don’t mind staying in a cold country, you can come to Finland. It’s more challenging to find jobs here in Lappeenranta, but I know you can find jobs at least in Helsinki as part-time. If you want to have good business exposure, if you want to learn something in management or if you wanna do something in engineering, Finland is a very good option.
Best things about Finland
It’s the cleanest country! People are warm, people are so trusting! There is no racism. If you want a time of your own, if you want to stay independent, if you want to do something for your life, or earn some money – just come to Finland and make some good contacts. Just come to Scandinavia, it’s really beautiful here!