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6 Reasons Why Students Are Looking to Study Abroad In Helsinki

6 Reasons Why Students Are Looking to Study Abroad In Helsinki main image

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Situated on a series of mini islands in the south of Finland, the country’s capital city Helsinki may not be the most obvious study abroad choice. However, this is a city which ranked in the top 60 in the QS Best Student Cities 2019 ranking, and which boasts a world-class university, an outdoor lifestyle most people could only dream of, and fantastic quality of life.

If you need any further proof that Helsinki must be doing something right, consider the fact an impressive 10 percent of its student population are international students.

We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to speak with two of them from the University of Helsinki to find out what attracted them to study in the Finnish capital and what their experience has been like so far. 

Home to a world-renowned university

Finland’s academic reputation is renowned worldwide as it prides itself on innovation, pioneering research and collaboration with industry.

In fact, the University of Helsinki, a leading multidisciplinary academic research institution, took top spot as the best university in the country in the QS World University Rankings® 2020.

Canadian student, Eva Miras, is a Master’s in European and Nordic Studies student and shared with us how she came to choose studying in Helsinki. She said: “I knew that I wanted to do my master’s degree   in Europe, so I started looking at different programs in various countries, and it was the Master’s in   European and Nordic Studies that first caught my eye.

“I also learned more about the University of Helsinki and found that it had a really good international reputation, and learned that the education system in Finland is considered one of the best in the world, so it was a no brainer.

When it comes to Eva’s academic experience so far, it’s evident that the level of support and access to services has been nothing short of impressive. 

“I’ve been able to take so many interesting courses with some of the best professors and researchers in the country, and have learned so much in the process.

“The university provides students with almost endless amounts of academic resources and support to help guide your studies, and there is always help available to you if you need it,” says Eva.

A unique and innovative teaching style

Finland’s education system is admired around the world. For many international students, the innovative teaching style may come as a shock to begin with, but it soon becomes a unique and pleasant learning experience.

“The teacher-student ‘gap’ is almost zero, meaning the teachers are very approachable and open to great conversations both about and outside of the studies,” explains Chaitanya Bhargava, an MSc in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology student from New Delhi.

Students who study here are encouraged to embrace new learning methodologies and techniques. Sometimes students will be working and learning alongside peers from other classes in completely different countries via Skype, for instance.

Field trips, learning diaries, lab work, hackathons, and even participation in research groups are also part of the academic experience. Such academic freedom means opportunities for development are in abundance, but it does come with a price – as students are expected to manage their own workloads and work independently. 

Breath-taking nature spots around every corner

If you’re a fan of long, hot summers then Helsinki may not appear to have much to offer you, but don’t write off the idea of studying here straight away.

“The direct connection of the city to dense thickets and beaches is something I admire as I don’t have that in my home town,” says Chaitanya.

Whether you’re a fan of relaxing on the miles of beach and coastline that surround Helsinki, or hiking to your heart’s content across the country’s breathtaking national parks, there’s always something somewhere for you to enjoy during the university break or at weekends.

“It’s all easily accessible from the city, with endless coastlines, islands, beaches, lakes, forests and natural parks to visit,” says Eva.

It’s more affordable than London, Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris…

… according to Expatistan’s Cost of Living Index. This is especially true if you’re an EU/EEA citizen – as EU/EEA citizens are exempt from paying tuition fees. In 2017, the Finnish government introduced mandatory tuition for students who live outside the EU/EEA.

However, even with the cost of tuition you can still live affordably here. Cost of living in the city is still comparable to other major European cities – you just need to know how to budget and how to budget well.

The cost of rent followed by groceries and entertainment are the biggest things to consider when living in Finland. Setting a budget, as well as saving up before arriving is usually the best way to ensure you have enough funds for the year.

To make it easier for international students to relocate to Helsinki, the University of Helsinki reserves a number of rooms and studios from Unihome and HOAS for bachelor's and master’s degree students who are moving to Finland.

Although cost of living tends to be higher in Helsinki, crime rates are very low and public safety threats generally come from the country’s wildlife rather than crime – so beware of moose on country roads and highways!

Students also have access to cheap healthcare (including dental care), as well as cheap student lunches and heavily discounted public transport.

It’s one of the best student cities in the world

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, Helsinki is making waves in the academic rankings, and when it comes to student cities there are no exceptions to that either.

“I really enjoy living in Helsinki because it’s a small enough city to easily get around (the public transport is amazing), but it’s still big enough that there is still so much to see and do.

“Helsinki is a great city for students because of its active student life with no shortage of things to do no matter what you’re interested in,” says Eva.

Finland dominates rankings and indexes around the world

Finland is officially the world’s happiest country … again. After taking the title for the second year in a row, many other countries are looking to Finland to try and understand what it is that makes Finns report the highest levels of happiness in the world.

Having never visited the country before or studied outside of Canada, Eva was more than open to whatever studying in Helsinki brought her way:

“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came to study in Finland.

“I came here with no expectations and an open mind, and I have been pleasantly surprised ever since. Even with no expectations, my expectations have somehow been exceeded!” says Eva.

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Written by Stephanie Lukins
As the sponsored content writer for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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