My wonderful time in Jyväskylä

Johanna B.

University:  University of Jyväskylä
Study Period: 
Fall semester 2014/2015
Academic Level:  Master

Johanna Jyväskylä 1

After I had decided to make my exchange semester in Finland, in a tiny student town which is called Jyväskylä, my friends were surprised about my decision. Most of the time I got comments, like: The temperature in Finland is most of the time below 0 °C or the inhabitance speak one of the most difficult languages. Nevertheless, all these comments did not matter, I was sure that it would be a great experience to live in Finland during the next winter term. Moreover, I wanted to be prepared for the time, so I looked into books and the internet to get as much information as possible. Two important hints: you should bring enough warm clothes with you and a lot of vitamin D.

You can find a lot of information regarding the university and the city of Jyväskylä in the web, so it is really easy to find interesting courses of your major or interesting facts about the city.  Furthermore, after I got my letter of acceptance from the University of Jyväskylä, I also got a   tutor who helped me in the beginning. My tutor and I wrote a lot of e-mails before I went to Finland, so I could ask a lot of questions which the internet or books could   not answer.

Arrival, my student apartment and the orientation week

My arrival in my new home was really comfortable. I flew from Dusseldorf to Helsinki and after   that I went to   Jyväskylä by train. There is also a possibility to fly to Jyväskylä from Helsinki   directly, but my tutor discouraged   me from this option, because there is no public transport   running between the airport and the city center. The only   way to get to the city is a taxi and   that would be really expansive.

As I arrived at the train station in Jyväskylä, I met my tutor there and he took me to my new flat in the South West   of the city center. After a quick inspection of my room, the kitchen and the bathroom of my shared apartment, my tutor showed me the campus and the city center. I already knew that Jyväskylä was a small town, however, I was still surprised that it was so tiny. Afterwards, we met some other Erasmus students and their tutors, so I already   met a lot of other students.

During the first week at the university, I met all exchange students who also started their exchange period. In total, we were more than 500 students from all over the world. It was interesting to see that not only Europeans decided to live in Finland for a short period. Furthermore, we got information regarding the students’ life, students’ apartments, the Finish culture and how we can survive in Jyväskylä during our stay. In addition, the Erasmus network of the university introduced themselves and announced that they are going to organize various trips during the semester for the exchange students.

Traveling through Finland and its neighboring countries

Johanna Jyväskylä 5The Erasmus network offered trips to Russia, Sweden, and Lapland. So I decided to go to St. Petersburg and to Lapland during my stay. Moreover, some other exchange students and I organized trips to Tallinn, Tampere, Turku and Helsinki.

My first trips went to Helsinki, Turku and Tampere, three wonderful cities of Finland. Turku is the former capital of Finland, this is the reason why a lot of inhabitants of Helsinki do not like Turku. The atmosphere in Turku and in Helsinki are similar, both cities are port towns and have got a wide Swedish speaking community. Moreover, there are a lot of small islands which belong to the cities, so you can visit some of them, if you have enough time. In contrast to this, Tampere is situated in the interior of Finland and it is one of the most popular cities. It is located between two big lakes and it is famous for its textile industry. Furthermore, Tampere has also got illuminated pictures installed in the city center during the winter, like Essen.

Johanna Jyväskylä 6One weekend I also made a trip to Estonia, so I had to go by bus to Helsinki and after that with the ferry to Tallinn. It is a quite long journey, but it is worth one’s while. Tallinn is a wonderful old, antique capital with great buildings. I made a guided tour through the city center and learned a lot about the difficult history of Estonia.

Another weekend I travelled to St. Petersburg with the Erasmus network. This was my first time in Russia. Everybody told us before it is the most western Russian City but after my stay I have to say it is really difficult to survive there without speaking any Russian. St. Petersburg is a beautiful port city which has got great buildings and an amazing art exhibition. I visited the Hermitage which includes e.g. works by Van Gogh and Picasso. Moreover, I also went to the main spots like the St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Church of the Savior on Blood.

Finally, my last trip went to Lapland, after the end of the winter term the Erasmus network organized this trip. So we went there on the one hand to finally have snow and on the other hand to get to know the Sami and Finish culture a bit better. Lapland is located in the northern part of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia. Our trip went only to the part in Finland and Norway, so we were able to swim in the Arctic Ocean at -10°C. Furthermore, we visited Santa Claus village and the Ranua Arctic Wildlife Park. I was also able to make the experience to ride a husky slate and a reindeer slate, and to sing typical Sami songs.

Great People, great experience in a beautiful country

Johanna Jyväskylä 8Johanna Jyväskylä 9Now after my stay in Jyväskylä I can say for sure that my exchange semester was successful. I learned a lot about other cultures and countries. I met people from all over the world and made a lot of new friends. And I am happy that I was there, because the organization was perfect and I felt home during my entire stay. That is the reason, why I already know that I am going to go back to Finland for holidays. So if you want to have a great experience in the North I really recommend to go to Jyväskylä.