As a rule, international students should have adequate means of support upon their arrival in Finland. The Finnish Immigration Service has estimated the income requirement to be €560 per month or €6,720 per year. Living in Finland is relatively expensive to many foreigners. The majority of those coming to study in Finland are not entitled to student financial aid. There are different kinds of foundations and funds in Finland that allocate grants and scholarships to students. However, these scholarships are usually only small monetary compensations not covering all living expenses.
I have previously written in blogs about job opportunities for international students in Tampere. However, it can be challenging to find work as a foreigner depending on your Finnish language skills, and it can also be difficult to fit a part-time job into your study schedule. Therefore, I thought I’d share with you some tips for making and saving money as a student in Tampere (some of these tips can also be useful for those who aren’t students)
1) Student housing – the flats are generally cheaper than renting privately. They can also be furnished and semi-equipped (and you can supplement with a Survival Kit from the student union). All students accepted at the universities in Tampere receive instructions on how to apply for a flat with their Letter of Acceptance. International students should apply by filling in the online application form as soon as you receive the link, it’s first-come-first-serve!
2) Student Union – get your card immediately and use it often. At the university membership is mandatory and at the university of applied sciences voluntary but highly recommended. It’s always worth asking at cafés, restaurants, bars, shops, and museums. For example, a cup of tea or coffee at a bar could cost €1 after showing your student card instead of €2 without a student card.
3) Student Health Service – for emergencies there’s Acuta (university hospital emergency room) but if you’re not currently and urgently dying, you should head to the student health clinic of your university. Most minor stuff can be handled there…
4) ESN FINT – Erasmus Student Network Finns and Internationals in Tampere. ESN is a Europe-wide network for exchange students. ESN FINT organises free-time activities, such as trips, sauna evenings and simple hang-outs, mainly for foreign students, but welcomes all internationally-minded students to join in. ESN language groups offer informal language teaching with a native speaker. ESN organises student trips to Lapland and Russia.
5) Flea markets and campus recycling points – buying, selling and exchanging second hand goods is fairly common in Finland. Second hand shops and flea markets are great places to find reasonably priced items in a good condition. Campuses have recycling points, where students can exchange things they need or don’t need.
6) Second hand bicycle – a bicycle is very handy in moving about in Tampere. Affordable second hand bicycles can be found, for instance, in bicycle shops, at police auctions or flea markets. Many students cycle to campus through sleet and now even in the winter.
7) Use your library – you should always borrow books before buying them. Students can borrow books from the university library and there are also plenty of books and other material in foreign languages at the public city libraries. If a book is overdue, you will be charged a delay fee so be polite and obey rules. If there’s too many penalty fees you will not be able to borrow any more books from the library.
8) Recycle bottles and cans – Take cans and bottles back to shops and supermarkets and get money for putting them into a machine than scans them and recycles them. Glass and plastic bottles as well as metal beverage cans with deposit (usually €0.10-€0.40 per bottle or can) are returned to stores. Broken glass and bottles without deposit should be taken to a glass recycling point (in Tammela market square, for example). Many people make a habit of collecting them during festivals and big events.
9) Utilise discount stores – international chains like Lidl, Ikea, Flying Tiger and Clas Ohlson are good places to start for bargain hunting.
10) SportUni – the university community offers a joint option for all sports. SportUni provides high quality and versatile sport services for students and personnel of Tampere Universities. You can use three campuses’ services for just one affordable fee. To put it into perspective, the annual fee corresponds to a monthly fee in a private gym. You can also save on your water bill by showering and using the saunas there!
11) Use university IT services – in it’s simplest form, you can use the university computer labs and library working spaces to save on electricity and wifi. The computer labs are reserved for silent working and it is not polite to talk loudly or on the phone, since other students are there to study. All students have an individual printing quota, and more can be purchased at campus shops. Most of the university computer rooms have unused plugs. The mains voltage in Finland is 230 V at a 50 Hz frequency, according to the EU standard. As standards might vary according to country, an adapter might be needed. Office365 packages and virus protection are available for download for students.
12) Finnish bank account – opening a bank account is optional, and not usually recommended for exchange students. Those who have a bank account in another EU country do not necessarily need to open one in Finland. Students coming from SEPA countries do not necessarily need a Finnish bank account because banks should not charge for international payments when using an IBAN code for account transfers or when paying invoices in the SEPA area. Remember to file an official notification of move when you leave. Your Finnish bank account should be closed if you have one, other possible service agreements terminated, and invoices paid.
13) Finnish lessons – Take Finnish language courses free of charge at the university instead of paying for other courses. Also, you should keep an eye out for peer learning options like Each One Teach One. The university community in Tampere also allows you to take cross-institutional studies from the other university quite flexibly.
14) Get lucky – get or win money, supermarket vouchers, cinema or event tickets, or vouchers by participating in research studies, filling in surveys, or participating in panels or competitions. Many of them are announced in the public group Tampere foregners on facebook.
15) Network – If you are perseverant and innovative, it is possible to find work, or even establish your own business, because opportunities for foreigners are improving. There are networks of international talent in Tampere which aim to gather together internationally and business oriented people from the region and they are open for all people regardless of their nationality or professional background. On campus networks are best found on Y-kampus or through projects in Demola.
Text: Lauren Stevens, Tampere Student Ambassador 2015-2019
(Edit: Piri Hiltunen)