Congratulations to those who have achieved the Finnish Temporary Residence Permit (Study Permit). Are you all ready to embark the journey as student in Finland? That’s great ! You might want to get more practical suggestions to conveniently transition your living in Finland from the comfort of living in your home country. Read the article and make a personalized plan for yourself !
Please consider that these information are subjective. These are based on the information that we have got. Also please keep an eye on the latest update date in this article. Otherwise, the information can be outdated and irrelevant. The regions and cities in Finland could have different situations from one another. Otherwise basic administrative, financial, and academic suggestions might apply to all municipalities across Finland.
Book Ticket! Pack your Bag!
Booking the ticket to Finland could be the first step in your actual move towards Finland after getting the residence permit. You can wait for the actual ‘card’ from the embassy and start your steps. Otherwise, it is fine to plan and do things right after getting a document with positive decision. First, make a list of your essential cloths or items that you might want to take to Finland with you. Please do not forget the medicines and prescriptions if your have been regularly taking those, or have started to take recently for some period.
Things in carry-bag
People keep things in carry-bag. They know that the contents inside the travel luggage can break because of the sheer stress they get as non-human things en route. A bump or a drop may not damage the clothes, but medicines and electronics!
Do not forget to carry your academic and professional documents along with the RP card and your passport while you actually travel to Finland. Carry such important documents and your medicines along with transcription in a separate carry bag.
A phone with adapter, laptop with charger would be another set of essential things in a carry-bag. Some students might also keep an external hard drive in the list. Remember to keep the proper cables in your bag. In Finland, the electric socket on the wall fits type C and type F (two round pins) plugs. Be sure to bring an adapter with such pins to use with your devices. Be sure not to leave these things behind especially during airport scans.
Follow the Official ‘Semester Start’ Guideline
Even your courses might be starting little later, please arrive in the city where the institution of higher education (university / university of applied science / institution of vocational education) during the week of official start of the semester. Remember, they might call it SMART START or SEMESTER START or anything else. You may be able to download the practical guidelines of the semester-start from the website of the institution where you would be studying. Your program coordinator can also email you the PDF file of semester start for your program. You might not even need to read this article if you sincerely go through this particular document. These are prepared with national and international students in mind.
Attend the ‘Orientation for International Students’
This is the key session. Your institution of (higher) education works harder to ease your transition from your home country to Finland, your city and the institution.
They will guide you on digital system of the university and other formal process.
Get the Room / Apartment
Student residences have been mostly offering economic rents for the students. You are free to choose the residence, location and amenities as per your choice. However, the student residences offered by the companies recommended by the university offer the best price. Virtually not any other company can beat the rent price offered by these student residences. You will also get a guaranteed room for yourself.
You should have applied for the room quite early – mostly after accepting the enrollment into the study programme. After getting the residence permit, email the housing companies to inform about the residence permit. You might get an offer for a room on the next working day. You can also send them follow up emails if you do not receive an offer yet. Remember, you can also move to Finland and stay in a hotel or in a friend’s residence while you wait for an offer from them. If they are not in the capacity to offer you a room because of the long waiting list, you must resort to apply at private companies. They (or your friends) can suggest you some other companies.
Please keep the room contract document with you as required document. You need this at various occasions. Bank might need this document if you do not have confirmation of your address by the DVV (see below). DVV office needs this to register your address.
Get the DVV Registration Done
After getting the residence permit, please do not think that everything is done. You will also need to register with ‘Digital and Population Data Services Agency (DVV)‘ as a resident in a municipality in Finland. Remember, some students might not have got ‘personal identity code’ (social security number) while they get decision on residence permit application. Such group of students get this particular number after they visit DVV office with the filled application form. You can book appointment with the DVV well ahead, even using the website from your home country. Just do a trick – book the nearest date and time after your confirmed arrival in the city. Please do not forget to visit the office on the booked date and time.
While visiting the office, please carry documents like passport, room contract, RP card, confirmation from the university that you are student there. University can make this document for you. You can also make this document from the online system of the university.
Please do not leave any of your documents while you go to places outside your living space where you mostly keep the things safely.
Money Matters !
Yes, money truly matters. If you have achieved a scholarship – that’s great. Otherwise, bring the required money with you – for example for a year. There are multiple ways to bring money to Finland. The best way is creating the bank account in Finland and transferring the money from bank account in your home country. Another way is making a travel cheque (bank draft) from home country and depositing that one in your newly created bank account in Finland.
Why to Bring Cash?
If you bring travel-cheque / bank draft, the banks in Finland might take months to deposit that amount in your bank account. Many students from the developing countries resort to bring travel cheque. It’s because their banks do not easily allow free spending of the money abroad without a reason. Even to get the travel cheque, they need to submit proper study related documents. On top of this, it might take months to get the money deposited in your bank account in Finland.
Even if you decide to transfer the money from your bank in your home country, you might need to be physically present in your home country. Going back to your home country again after opening bank account in Finland is not practical. It takes ‘enormous’ time to be able to get freely operating bank account in Finland unless you get a ‘Residence Card’ from the Police. After you get this, you can apply for ‘e-banking’ service. The banks then issue you ‘e-banking service’ which can enable you with ‘mobile banking’ service. Mobile banking means ‘freedom’ right?
In such case, you might want to bring cash from your home country. Please bring the ‘Euros’ that is exchanged from the bank or authentic money exchange service in your home country. Bring the amount for at least 3 months of your sustenance in Finland.
Get a bank appointment
Banks in Finland need to book an appointment for you for every negotiations and processes that needs your physical presence there. So, for every processes, book an appointment for each beforehand. The phone numbers are available in their websites. You might need to wait for about half an hour to get an operator talking with you.
Finnish Residence Card from the Police
As mentioned earlier, this card is essential for you to get e-services from the bank. When you get e-services, you will also have many options to get into the public administration systems of Finland. You will get Finnish Residence Card from Police only if you are staying for a minimum of 2 years in Finland. You need proper type of photo to get a card from them. Remember, this also costs fees.
Smart IT Decisions
- Its wise decision to download the student ID app, and verify your student ID already in your home country. If you do this, you can use discounted train ticket. The train ticket inspector needs this to verify that you are a student.
- Install an extra authenticator app suggested by the university. In case your SIM card does not work in Finland, the one-time verification codes from the university system might not arrive in your mobile message box. Extra authenticator app can be used to change your mobile phone number. You can also change mobile phone number using the online system of the university. Or if you have problems or cannot do by yourself, the IT services at the university can help you. Just be sure to carry your RP card and passport for identification. They might look at your face and then the passport and back for verification !
- You can also purchase roaming services of SIM card from your home country for your convenience.
Other Petty Suggestions
- Get free items from the students who are leaving the university / city. Such flea markets can be organized by the student unions / department for international students. You can also get a free Finnish SIM card from these offices.
- Register for the Finnish (Suomi) courses as soon as possible. Finnish courses in the universities are filled in by unprecedented number of international students. Otherwise, there can be sections of the municipalities, or other educational institutions that offer Finnish courses. Look for other options not only to learn Finnish but also to practice Finnish !
- Do not throw beer cans, soda / water bottles as waste. They can be given to collecting machines by the convenient stores. You will then get a ‘paper coupon’ from the machine which can be used in your grocery shopping !
- If you can ride a bicycle in a city with proper and safe cycle lanes, its wise decision to get a second-hand bicycle. If you negotiate well, a second-hand bike can cost Eur 45, even lesser than a monthly travel ticket.
- Many banks take fees for operating bank accounts, some do not. Some banks deposit your travel cheque in your account, some do not. Choose your bank wisely.
- Do not forget to pay student unions fees, rent of your room / apartment, and fees for student healthcare by the deadline ! All are mandatory if you are eligible to pay these.