Moving to another country is an exhilarating adventure, but it also requires careful planning. While the expat journey begins when one leaves their home country, extensive preparation is necessary months, and sometimes even a year, before the actual move. For many universities in Finland, the application period for the autumn semester opens during December and/or January, and visa/residence permit applications also demand preparation well in advance. In today’s blog, we guide you through the essential steps to take before embarking on your expat journey – from discovering the degree programme that matches your interest to handling bureaucratic procedures and preparing for the move, all to start your exciting journey on the right foot.
Finding the right study programme
The first step is to explore the wide range of degree programmes available in the country and find programmes that match your interest. To make this process easier, we recommend checking out the official websites of Finnish universities. These websites offer comprehensive information about degree programmes, admission requirements, and application procedures. They are your go-to resource for understanding the academic landscape in Finland.
In addition to university websites, Studyinfo.fi is a platform that allows you to search for degree programmes offered in English by different universities in Finland. This tool helps you narrow down your options based on your interests and guides you in determining whether you fulfil the prerequisite requirements for your desired study programme and when the application period for the programme is.
Navigating requirements and immigration procedures
Once you've been accepted into your dream university and programme, it's time to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements set by the university and Migri, the Finnish Immigration Service.
For instance, many degree programme have language proficiency requirements. Depending on your home country, you might need to take a language proficiency test such as IELTS or TOEFL. It's important to know the exact language expectations for your chosen programme, if there are any.
Additionally, Migri might ask for proof of funds to cover your living expenses in order to obtain a residence permit. Make sure to gather all the necessary financial documentation well in advance.
Essential Clothing, Financial, and Moving Checklist
Now, let's move on to preparing for the big move itself. Finland's weather can be unpredictable, so it's important to be ready for different seasons. When packing, ensure you have a variety of clothing options. Include base layer items such as cotton t-shirts, mid-layers like fleece jackets or warm sweaters, and a light jacket to protect yourself from wind and rain. These layers will keep you comfortable, especially during the first few months in Finland. However, if you're arriving in the middle of winter, don't forget to pack suitable winter wear.
Before embarking on your journey, it's crucial to create a comprehensive moving checklist. Your checklist should include essential documents like your admission letter, identification papers, and any original documents that might need to be verified when you arrive in Finland. It's also wise to have digital backups of these documents. Additionally, note down the contact information of your student tutor, study programme coordinator, and admission services contact person in case you encounter any unexpected situations. Having your future apartment or residence address readily available is also highly recommended.
Cash is rarely used in Finland, but it's always good to have an emergency cash reserve on hand when arriving in the country for the first time. Remember that you'll need to purchase a local prepaid SIM card, which you can find at various stores when you reach the country.
These are a few of the key points you need to know before moving to Finland for your studies. Moving abroad is a life changing experience, and the better that one is prepared, the more chances of a hassle-free experience. While there will still likely be a lot of changes to get used to initially and culture shocks, the best one can do is prepare themselves through learning and preparing. In other words, prepare for tomorrow’s adventure by doing your homework today!