It still feels somewhat strange, but it’s official, I’m leaving on Sunday: I’m leaving into the cold, because I am going to spend 5 months in Helsinki, Finland. By the way: What is strange, too, is that I haven’t posted anything since December (or February in the case of my German blog). In my mind, this blog was always active: I always thought about subjects that I could post about and even wrote some drafts, but never published anything. And in the eyes of you, the reader, thinking about posing something doesn’t count, if I don’t post, nobody reads.
But coming back to the subject: Finland. I just realized that I haven’t posted anything about my plans in the English blog, but a lot has happened: I applied for ERASMUS at my uni, then, I applied at the guest university in Helsinki, next, I got myself a room in a dorm and finally, I wrote my Learning Agreement. You don’t know what I’m talking about? No worries! To be able to participate in ERASMUS, the first step is to apply for it at your home university. In the case of my university, the decision-taking process behind the scenes is very intransparent, but once they decide that you’re good enough for ERASMUS, you are “nominated”. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean very much, it just means that you may now apply at your desired guest university. Only after they accept your application, you can participate in ERASMUS. Once you know that you’re accepted, the next step is to write a Learning Agreement. That learning agreement is a contract between both universities and you that states all subjects whose grade can be transferred from your guest university to your home university. This is very important as professors sometimes do change their mind. Even if they accepted the grade being transferred before you left, they might change their mind and refuse to accept the foreign grade. In that case, you pull out the learning agreement and show them the signature they gave you half a year ago. Lastly, there are some practical things to organize, like a roof over your head.
In my case, I already knew what I was doing since I already was abroad once with ERASMUS. Therefore, it might be interesting to take a look at what went differently, what went better and what went worse during the preparation:
For the most part, everything was easier (no wonder, I already had some expertise 😉 ). For instance, I was able to do everything by email and online. I didn’t have to see our universities International Affairs Delegate once, and that’s good because she’s not always the nicest person in the world.
Concerning the learning agreement, I had a little luck there, too. I was able to get more subjects recognized, but unfortunately only as elective courses. The reason for that is that electives are usually more flexible in their grading, which means that examiners tend to accept foreign grades even though the contents of the exam aren’t 100% equal. On the other hand, that means that I have to retake all exams for compulsory subjects that I miss during my stay abroad. Fortunately, my university granted me a “Leave of Absence”, which takes all stress away from me concerning that issue.
In terms of accomodation, I found myself a dorm room. Contrary to the dorms in Strasbourg, the dorms in Helsinki have shared apartments. That means that I share my apartment with (I think) 4 other people which in turn means, sharing the kitchen and bath with only 4 other people and not 80, like it used to be in Strasbourg. When I looked for student housing in Helsinki, everyone told me that I need to look for student housing everywhere, since there’s a huge shortage in student housing in the area. People recommended to me to apply for a room at both student housing organisations in Helsinki, while also looking for an apartment on the private market and also looking for rooms in private dorms.Nevertheless, I thought to myself “YOLO” and only applied for a room at one of the two student housing organisations. And despite the high risk of ending up homeless, I was offered a room, hurray!
But now, that I’m leaving un Sunday, everything happend really fast. Yesterday, I started to pack my stuff, which is difficult, because, when I went to Strasbourg, I went there by car together with my parents. In the car, I obviously had plenty of space for anything. This time, I am going to Helsinki by plane, which means that I only have two suitcases and one piece of hand luggage available to me. Even though I am going to send myself a package via the post, that still isn’t that much space to work with. Furthermore, it will surely be an interesting experience to walk through an airport with a computer screen in my hand luggage 😉
As you can see, Finland is still going to be fun to go to, even though I already have some experience from Strasbourg. For that reason, I invite you to enter your e-mail-address in the field at the bottom of the page so that you will always be up to date with what’s happening in Helsinki. Furthermore, as I am now calling myself an “Influencer”, I do have an Instagram account which you could follow 😉
P. S.: Even though the bet isn’t on anymore, I will try my best to post at least twice a month, so hang tight 😉
P. P. S.: If you’re wondering what book I am reading in the image, it’s “The Fault in our Stars”.