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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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