My time in Jyväskylä

Philip Q.

University:  University of Jyväskylä
Study Period: 
Fall semester 2015/2016
Academic Level:  Master

Aurora One

There are only a few things that can match the amazement you feel when looking at the aurora borealis dancing above you in the clear night sky. All the effort you put into researching the best websites with the most accurate aurora forecast, all the nights you spend up late, some outside in the cold, never really seeing much more than a faint green sparkle at the horizon. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, you take a look out the window and can see them with your bare eyes dancing in the sky, green curtains blending into light purples at the top.

Jyväskylä is the place to go if you want to experience this amazing feeling. During my semester abroad in Finland, I even had the opportunity to experience it multiple times. After the regular planning and course selection taking place in Germany, I started my trip in the middle of August. First off I went on a little round trip, flying to and staying in Stockholm for a couple of nights (which is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen during the summer time), then continuing to Helsinki. From there I took a rental car to explore the south coast of Finland. If you have time, definitely drive down to Turku, but ignore Turku and keep going just a little further south west to the Turku archipelago national park, which is a magical place of small idyllic islands off the coast of Finland. There isn’t anything special to look at, apart from beautiful and peaceful nature. I stayed in a small B&B sleeping in an iconic red wooden cottage right next to a lake and a grass weed field on the other side. Getting there just a couple of weeks after the exam period in Germany and the commencing stress planning and getting ready for my semester abroad, this place felt like heaven to me, relaxing, beautiful, plain amazing. It is also worth waiting for the sun to settle, which still takes quite long in Finland during August, to have a look at the amazing night sky with only very little light pollution on the archipelago.

Aurora TwoAfter the roadtrip, I went by car to Jyväskylä, but you can also go there by train or – which is the cheapest – by bus (check I was greated by my lovely tutor Mikko, who showed me the student appartments and gave me a quick tour of Kortepohja. He also showed my all of Jyväskylä and the university during the following orientation week. The orientation week, I have to say, is really well planned. There are lectures-style presentations for all important topics regarding university life. If you have further questions, there are quite a lot of guys from the international office open to questions, or if that isn’t enough for you, every five students get a personal tutor who can help you out.

Quick advice: If you arrive for the winter term as I did, you should go and get a bike as fast as you can! It is the cheapest and most convenient way to get around Jyväskylä, as the bus service is not the best.

As for my lectures at the University of Jyväskylä, I can’t mention anything negative. The lecture still was close to the one at the University of Duisburg-Essen. One lecture I had was in cooperation with IBM Finland, so we got to test out their Big Data Tools, which was quite fun.

Apart from the aurora, the ESN trips are the greatest part about going to Jyväskylä. You can choose between a three-day trip to St. Petersburg, a longer seven-day trip to St. Petersburg and Moscow, a seven-day trip to Finnish Lapland and Norway, and the world-renowed Pirates of the Baltic Sea trip. Ironically, I did not do the last one, but instead opted for the seven-day Russia trip and the seven-day Lapland trip. It is hard to say which of the two was better, but personally I think I would choose Lapland. This may be up to personal preference, though, as I learned to love the outdoors during my trip. For the Lapland trip you get to stay in a Finnish youth camp called Vasatokka, which is located a couple of kilometers from the “capital” of Lapland, Inari. There in the middle of nowhere, you can experience arctic survival skills, go for a sledge ride with reindeers, take a day trip to the arctic ocean in Norway, or go on a little hike through the snow covered nature of Lapland. After a day of exploring and venturing, you can relax in the lake side sauna and jump into the frozen lake afterwards (definitely worth it! It is freaking cold just as you would expect it to be, but not as bad as you fear and afterwards you feel amazingly refreshed!).

All in all, I can only recommend going to Jyväskylä, it might not be the biggest town with the most sightseeing opportunities, but the trips are amazing, the student life is great (maybe even because there isn’t that much to do around Jyväskylä, so you end up meeting all the time and having great fun getting to know lots of new people), and the cafeteria of the University is like a thousand times better than at our university. At minimum! :P