ESN HYY Helsinki
New Student House,
A valuable life experience.
The programme was named after the Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, who had the opportunity to live in numerous places in Europe so as to expand his knowledge and enrich his life with insights into foreign cultures. This exchange programme came into existence in 1987, and since then, over 2.2 million students have taken part in the Erasmus programme. Currently, the number of participating institutions is over 4,000 in the 33 countries involved in the programme. Finland joined the programme in 1993.
Apart from its role in shaping students’ studies, the Erasmus programme also gives its participants the chance to learn how to be self-reliant, dutiful and self-aware. For many participants, it is their first months spent abroad, which fosters their understanding of the host country and creates a community that helps them fit into their new environment. Several events are organised for exchange students throughout the year that help incoming students feel welcome.
An enjoyable international environment
ESN Finland plays a substantial role in maintaining an enjoyable environment for those who come to Finland as exchange students. ESN Finland consists of 16 local sections all over Finland and is part of the Erasmus Student Network, which is present in 36 countries. ESN HYY Helsinki is one of the four local sections responsible for the activities organised for more than 1,000 incoming students each academic year in Helsinki.
“There has always been a high interest towards ESN activities. The international students are active in taking part in various types of events and trying out new things. Especially all the events with a connection to Finnish culture, such as the traditional academic dinner party called sitsit and sauna nights,” states Salha Hanna, Vice President of ESN HYY Helsinki and the President elected of ESN Finland.
Apart from organising parties, trips and sauna evenings, the organisation has a lot more in store. “In addition to the events already mentioned, we also organise excursions to various organisations, such as the Fazer chocolate factory and the Finnish public broadcasting company YLE as well as the Finnish Parliament,” Hanna ads.
Once the applicants are granted admission, the first thing they need to face is the fact that an apartment is needed. HOAS, Finland’s student housing organisation, is responsible for providing places to stay. However, due to the high demand for the programme, their capacity is limited and cannot provide apartments for every incoming student.
Facing the factors
But what other factors do incoming students have to face when moving to Finland? Most importantly, they have to be self-aware, as they have their own duties and responsibilities concerning both their accommodation and academic commitments. The physical adaptation to the new environment also constitutes a substantial fraction of the stay, especially if students come here during the autumn semester. They have to prepare for the rough, gloomy winter both physically and mentally.
Also, bear in mind that the popular belief that holds that Erasmus is all about partying is just simply not true. Students’ academic success highly depends on their performance at university. The following steps are needed: meeting the deadlines, preparing for each of their classes, and last but not least, doing well in the exams.
However hard it is to find a place to stay or spend your first few weeks away from your family and friends, bear in mind that ESN HYY Helsinki and their events are for you. Not only do they keep you busy, but it helps you fit into Helsinki’s diverse student community as well.