Arriving and leaving Turku Finland

After almost 6 months of planning it was finally the day to go to Finland. This would be my first time in Scandinavia. I was so excited but also a little bit scareMoreau B3P1 paintd. Two friends of mine already had a semester here in Turku, they told me great stories but still I was nervous for this ‘’new life’’. Me and a friend of mine of my home University arrived together in the middle of the night (with this scary small airplane). Our tutors, two very nice Finnish girls, where at the airport to pick us up.  We only knew them through Facebook, so that already such a warm welcome. They brought us to our apartments at Päivänpaiste, Turku. We had different apartment so we split up and I was ready to meet my new roommates. I forgot in all the excitement that it was already 3am, so I arrived in a quiet, empty apartment. No worries, just go to sleep and see tomorrow. Next day I woke up and tried to decorate my room to feel like home. I note that I needed some new stuff so went with my friend and his roommates to the Ikea to buy some. When I came home I finally met my new roommates. Two girls, one from Korea and the other from Austria, nice to meet you!! The next week I had some introduction of the university and met some nice people, let the fun begin!

From my arriving till now the time rushed away. Already in the first month I had this big group of friends. We went together to Tallinn, Stockholm, Russia, Lapland and Norway and did some amazing stuff in Turku. We had the best parties, great activities and the biggest fun. I never felt alone and had every day so much to do, why was I scared of in the beginning?

Now writing this I only have tree weeks left. When I arrived I thought I was going to miss my life in the Netherlands but now I really don’t want to leave Turku at all any more. Thank you Turku, thank you Finland and thank you new friends, for this amazing time, I will miss you all!

Finding food in Turku

I am already for 3 months in Turku and still have some troubles with finding the right shopping for food. It is actually a funny thing here in Finland because the language is so different from other European languages that I know. First I tried to find the product what I always buy in the Netherlands (I am already a student for 4 years there so know pretty well what I need to buy to survive). I didn’t know that it would be so hard and difficult. Every time I come home with my grocery-shopping end tried something what I thought was similar from what I know, there was a big disappointment because it was something totally different. In the beginning I was irritated but after I saw it as something funny. It’s a good way to learn the language, eat some new foods you don’t know and have a nice chat with some finish people in the supermarket when you have to ask something. After 3 months I am still buying sparkling water instead of flat water. Funny part: when you open it, it get all over you because you thought it was flat, hilarious when it happened by somebody else because you know they are having the same ‘’food’’ problem as you. Good tip for some new coming students here. Before you go shopping, search for some good translations for what you want to buy.

Besides doing my shopping only by the Smarket or Lidl, I also go shopping in the shopping malls. There are some really nice malls with good meat and good delicatessens. Of course it is a little bit expensive for students but still very nice to walk around and buy some small things. There is also the market on the square were you can buy veggies, fruit, cheese, fish and other things. I really like to come there, walk around a little and buy some cheap veggies and fruits.

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But my most favourite place is the Kauppahalli (Food-hall). This food hall is located near by the market square. Only walking around makes me so happy. The Food-hall is roofed and there are a lot of different shops and lunch places. One of my favourites is the Vietnamese in the back on the left side. When I have some free time I always go there with my friends for some lovely noodle soup or eat the best spring rolls in town. It is not expensive at all and it is so delicious, I can never stop eating! Beside the good food, the Food-hall it is a perfect place to buy some typical finish stuff. Nice to bring to your home country as a souvenir, I already made my dad addicted to some nice chocolates I bought there. Have fun!

Text and picture: Marly Moreau

Amazing ESN Lapland trip

Wauw, just got back from the incredible ESN Lapland trip. I am so amazed about it, being a student in Turku gives you such good opportunities to discover Finland!

The fun of the trip already started in the bus. With or group of 14 friends, all together in the same bus. Next morning we arrived early to visit the Zoo with beautiful animals. Polar bear, reindeer, little wolves and many more. Really impressive because I never saw these animals before, in real life. After the Zoo we went for some shopping and ended in Santa clause village (o my god, it’s 15:00 and already dark!!). Of course with the whole group on the picture with Santa clause for some prove. After the journey continued to get to our cottage in Saariselkä.

Day 3. We woke up in our beautiful cottage and got ready to see some husky dogs andMoreau Blog-Pic 1-2 to do some husky sledging. It was amazing! The dogs were so strong and the ride was beautiful. After we had some free time to discover the city centrum and we did some more sledging. During the night we visit a Sami village, got the opportunity to ride some reindeer and got some delicious sausages. After we went early to bed because the next day we were going to Norway.

Day 4. Norway!! We started the journey early because it was a long ride to Norway. Only the way to Norway in the bus was impressive. The landscape is so beautiful. Totally different from what I know from the Netherlands. When we finally arrived we got some free time to walk around. After that we went to the sauna and for some cooling down, we jumped in the Arctic Ocean. That was so cold!! When we finished we got some fish soup, really good tasted! It was a very nice trip.

DMoreau Blog-Pic 1-3ay 5. We had some free time so we went sledging and discovering more of Saariselkä. Of course we had to eat some reindeer so we did. I really liked it! Around 19.00 we went out for snowshoeing. This trip was so funny. Walking around with these big feet and played in the snow. We hoped for some Northern light but unfortunately we didn’t saw it. We were so happy that are travel guide made some arrangement with the bus driver so he broth us outside the city to try again for the Northern light. We saw it!! Yes it was so beautiful. Not so strong but still very happy that we saw it. Good ending for our trip because this was our last night.   Moreau Blog-Pic 1-4

Times fly’s when you’re having fun. This trip went so fast, before I knew I was back in Turku. I saw so many new things what I never saw before. I really recommend other students to go to Lapland. The nature will amaze you and being with your friends in a cottage is so much fun! Let’s continue the fun in Turku!

Text and pictures: Marly Moreau

Useful information for Dutchies going to Turku

Hey Dutchties! Getting ready for your semester abroad? I am still not finished with my 5 months in Finland, but I can already say I love it! I am sure you already read a lot of good stories about the Erasmus life here, and what activities there are for students. But as you know, travelling never comes without planning and arranging. Therefore I would like to help you with managing of the formal administration and planning.

Let’s start from the beginning; what to do with your room at home? You cannot give up your room, if you want a place to come home to after Erasmus. Therefore you should sub lent your room. This is the way I did it. I and my roommates put an advertisement online on kamernet.nl that said we were searching for a girl in the period of January until May. We invited the girls who responded and picked one. At this very moment, she is living in my room in Utrecht. Now for the administration; I created a contract with her (what you can easily find on the internet). She pays me every month and I transfer it to my landlord. In that way I still have all the responsibilities of my room. The town Utrecht also still considers me as an inhabitant, so I can still get my scholarship from the government (Studie Financiering). The only thing you should keep in mind is to send your contract of your housing abroad, to the person you sub lent your room to. In that way, if the congregation would come and check, the person can prove that you are not living with two people in your room.

Well, then the trouble starts with finding a home abroad, because sleeping under a bridge in Finland could become quite cold. Luckily in Turku there is an organization called TYS, who own a lot of rooms for students. You can subscribe here: http://www.tys.fi/node/5099. After you apply, TYS will send you a housing offer that you can either accept or reject. If you reject the offer, TYS will send you a new offer. You can also ask for a specific location of preference. If I can give you any advice; if they offer you a room in the Student Village, accept! I am living there now, sharing my floor and kitchen with 11 others and sharing my building with 35 others exchange students. It feels like we are one big family. And besides your own building, there are 12 other buildings like this one filled with Erasmus students. So there are always some people to hang out/study/party with!

If you found a house, the only remaining thing then is to get there! I didn’t have a clue how to book a flight so I just booked a random one, which was way too expensive. From Amsterdam to Helsinki (direct flight) I paid €460. This could be way less. I recently found out about the application ‘SkyScanner’ (due to all the trips I made here). It gives an overview of every flight to your destination in the next couple of months. So you can also compare what date is the most affordable to leave the Netherlands. Normally (without luggage) it costs between €100-200.

Packing the suitcase is the next question. Bring a lot of warm clothes, because it can get pretty cold in Finland. Especially when you go visit Lapland. A couple of things I forgot to bring here were: a bikini (for sauna and ice swimming), a ski jacket, bed linen, a passport (for going to Russia), a towel and proper winter shoes. So don’t make the same mistake!

And before I forget, make sure you hand in your signed learning agreement to your university as soon as possible in order to get your Erasmus grant. Also don’t forget to send a form to DUO for your OV-card. You get 90 euro’s per month instead of free transport in The Netherlands. You should do at least two months before you leave (again something I forgot to do). This money will come in good use, because the prices in Finland are a bit higher then home (especially the alcohol).

I hope I gave you sufficient information in order to be confident when you leave. If you have any more questions, here is my email address: olga_lefevere@hotmail.com. One last thing: Don’t be scared! (Like me, I puked on Schiphol Airport, yes really). You will meet a lot of new great people. Everybody on Erasmus is so nice and fun. Like we say in Dutch: ‘Iedereen zit in hetzelfde schuitje.’ Have fun!

Text : Olga Lefevere

Turku castle

My friend asked me to attend Turku castle with him and his student tutor Pinja. I had wanted to see the city of Turku along with the Finnish culture, so I took him up on the offer.

I was glad I did, we paid the student price with our discount card given to us at the beginning at the semester and continued on into the old castle. It reminded me a bit of a castle we have back home.

A guide tells a story as you walk through, about the middle-ages period in Finland. Throughout the castle are many rooms – some decorated with art and pictures of kings, others with furniture and clothing worn by royals. An enchanting ballroom, church and treasure room, along with models of the original castle structure.

We were told that the building still stands as it did those many years ago. We stopped to wonder what it had been like back then…and then we went off to have some lunch in the café located indoors, proceeded by the gift shop where you can buy anything from post cards to battle armor.

I have also attended other museums while being in Turku, but this was definitely one of my favorites.

Text: Valerie McDermott