Despite having more classes and a fuller timetable than I’m used to in Manchester (those 8:30am lectures will stop me from ever complaining about a 9am again!), there remains plenty of time to explore the beautiful city and surrounding areas. I’m lucky enough to also have Fridays off this Semester, giving me even more time to explore. I thought I’d tell you about some of my favourite things I’ve done outside of classes and the library in my first two months.
I’m Sarah and I’m a PPE student studying for a year at Sciences Po in Toulouse. After what feels like countless months of admin, forms and eventually obtaining a Visa, I finally arrived here to begin my placement. The French bureaucracy has meant nothing is straightforward (partially thanks to Brexit!), so it feels great to have now spent three weeks in the ‘Pink City’.
By Hannah Wheeler, Vrije Universitiet, Netherlands
Throughout my year in Amsterdam, I was always keen to try and find spots that were beyond the tourist’s gaze. When I met an Amsterdamer, I would often ask what places they recommended and what were their favourite parts of the city. Here are a few places I discovered and fell in love with…
Brazilians have their carnival, the Irish Saint Patrick’s Day. Norway’s answer? On 17 May, they celebrate the signing of the constitution in 1814. In Norway, Constitution Day is HUGE. Indeed, since I arrived in Bergen in August, I have been told about this day so many times by excited and proud Norwegians, and have been looking forward to May 17th throughout the year.
By Hannah Wheeler, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands
Here is a list of some of the best things, both touristy and Dutchie, to do in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. I hope it has something that will appeal to everyone: from club recommendations to must try cookies…
When I was making my application to study abroad and choosing cities, Warsaw didn’t even make my Top 10. I knew nothing about it, and I had never been to Poland. Due to other allocations being cancelled, it was the only option for me if I wanted to go abroad this year. However, now that I’ve lived here for almost three months, my expectations have been truly exceeded and I would recommend studying here for lots of reasons!
By Hannah Wheeler, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands
This exchange has opened me up to so many new experiences. For the first time, I am living with a group of internationals. My apartment of four holds a combination of seven nationalities and seven languages between us. The mixture of cultures and perspectives is incredible.
by Amber Musgrove-Benford (University of Helsinki, Finland)
One of the first things anyone will realise post arrival in Finland – whether as a tourist or to study – is that eating out is expensive.
Where once I was enjoying a hearty meal (and maybe even a drink) in the Northern Quarter for under £15, I was now in Kamppi, or Kluuvi, where prices can range from €15 to, at worst, €20 plus for food alone.
But have no fear! The following will ensure you a chance of exploring the amazing food scene in Helsinki, all whilst not making too much of a dent in your student budget.
France is full of awesome places that you can explore, food you can try and events you can attend. But living the ideal exchange experience rarely comes cheap – don’t know about you but I certainly cannot afford to buy a fresh baguette from the local bakery every single morning (yes, this stereotype about the French is actually true). Well, don’t worry, I got you 🙂 Here’s five tips for getting the most out of a stay in France, and not going broke in the process.
By Amber Musgrove-Benford (Finland, University of Helsinki)
When I arrived in Finland, I had little expectation for Freshers. Made pessimistic due to the pandemic and the restrictions still in force in Helsinki, I expected nothing more than a few quiet drinks with other exchange students I met in my accommodation. Luckily, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Freshers at the University of Helsinki is a big deal. Fuksit (first year students) – or Phuksit for law students – take over what seems to be the whole city in a week or so of activities and orientation organised, at least for the School of Law, at both Faculty level and through the law society, Pykälä.
Barely two hours after landing at Vantaa airport, I was already meeting my tutor group for the first time in a café in the city centre. Over the next week, we would watch introductory lectures together, both in person (what a novelty!) and online, as well as attending other events, all whilst managing to walk a massive 20,000 steps each day.
In the afternoons, our tutors, both second year bachelor students, often took us sightseeing, around both the campus and city, or we would spend the lunch hour like typical Finns – in a restaurant or at a bar where we enjoyed the final hints of summer, all of us knowing it was likely the last time we would see the temperature reach 15 degrees until next spring.
Evening events were often the highlights of the day and ranged from a very competitive tournament of the traditional Finnish game, Möllky, to an even bigger Flunkyball tournament (a game involving beer, a bottle, running, and a shoe – much better than it sounds, I promise!). We were even, on one evening, treated to a night-time concert attended by both Finnish and Exchange Law students in Kaivapuisto, a beautiful park right on the coast.
The best event I had the chance to take part in was Phuksiaiset. Labelled on Pykälä’s website as “the event your mother warned you about,” this mammoth scavenger hunt was set in a handful of Helsinki’s southern parks and included teams of eight taking part in ridiculous and frankly insane games and challenges to earn points. Turning up at the starting point on the steps of Helsinki Cathedral, my friends and I quickly realised, somewhat bemusedly, that Finns take this event very seriously, and we made the decision to do the same. This turned out to be the right decision, and the day ended up being one of the most fun – and memorable – experiences from my first few weeks in Helsinki.
Now things have finally calmed down at little here, the temperature has dropped and my courses have begun, it feels like a good time to reflect on my first foray into Finnish student culture.
As always, though Freshers can be overwhelming, and perhaps even worse when in a new, unfamiliar country, fthanks to the great tutor group system here at UH, I really could not have hoped for a better start to my year studying abroad.
On that note, I’ll sign off. As the Finns would say, hölökyn kölökyn! Or for us English speakers – cheers!