Jyväskylä - out of scopes

Chris S.

Study Period: 
Fall semester 2014/2015
Academic Level:  Master


From the early January until end of May 2014 I was visiting the university of Jyväskylä in central Finland. I was doing this exchange semester as it is a mandatory part of my studies in "Wirtschaftsinformatik" (business information systems) and I was looking for something in Scandinavia. Actually I was looking for an exchange in Sweden but it appeared that all slots were full – that was the moment when Finland became a potential target. In the end I was (at least from what I know) the only current student from my university who went to Finland and I was both somehow worried about the strange Finnish language and excited about that snowy country. So I took a flight at the 4th of January and when I arrived at the Helsinki Airport, it turned out to be four degrees Celsius.


I expected Finland to be a cold and white country in the winter, but apparently (and sadly) I did not have any snow within my first week, in fact, as written above, I first experienced plus four degrees Celsius. One thing that has to be clear when visiting Finland within the winter is light, or more correctly, darkness. I did not see the sun at all within my first three weeks in Finland, instead it got bright at around 10 o clock and turned dark at around 15.30. So that might be a huge problem in the beginning.


The city my university was stated at is Jyväskylä. This is a (from a German point of view) very small city with around 130.000 people and it is the seventh biggest city of Finland. But besides these general dates it is a very cool and interesting city with lots of opportunities to do sports, party or whatever someone may be interested in.
Jyväskylä has several interesting places to visit like many lakes or a ski resort with a ski jump, but overall the city is somehow a city of contrasts. On the one side there was a beautiful countryside and nice houses and next to it several dirty tenements.
I was living in the student village of Kortepohja, which is like three kilometers away from the center of Jyväskylä and the university. But it was easy to reach both the city and the university by bus, bike or even just by walking (which I was mostly doing).


Once visiting Finland it is nearly necessary to visit Lapland. That is a giant area in the northern Finland
(and whole Scandinavia) with very little people living around. In fact it is amazing to see the emptiness of this area. One awesome place to visit is Rovaniemi, the village where Santa Claus is living and which is at the polar circle.


Finns seem to be a little cold and reserved in the beginning – at least some of them. But if you try to be polite and maybe say some sentences in Finnish, they turn out to be kindly overall (although it is obviously difficulty generalize that). But I actually experienced mostly kindly and helpful people. One fact to state here is that most of the Fins do speak both Finnish and English and therefore it is easy to communicate with them.

University and Studies

I studied Information science in Jyväskylä at the Mattilanniemi campus, which is one of three campuses in Jyväskylä. The studies itself were quite interesting and I had access to many courses (as they were in English). But it appeared that in most of the courses I was visiting more Fins than exchange students took part. Nevertheless I had the luck to experience courses with lots of group work and presentations instead of exams, so it was a nice alternation to my studies in Germany.
Generally spoken I would say that most courses in Finland were visited by smaller groups of students and the maximum participants were limited to 30, so in my opinion the quality of teaching was higher than I averagely experienced in Germany (especially compared to the bachelor's degree).

Final thoughts

Overall it was quite cool to visit Finland, which seems to be a country a little out of scope in Europe. I had a great time staying abroad and got to know many cool students and getting great new experiences. I can definitely recommend visiting Finland as the target for an exchange semester.