I know – B O R I N G! But we really have to start here because out of all the things you would NOT want to forget about, it would be these. Nothing is worse than having a mid-flight realization that you might have left your residence permit or the like at home. Because these things might already be difficult to get when you’re in your home country, they would probably be n times more difficult when you’re abroad. Hence, it’s absolutely essential that you have your documents in order, preferably in a sturdy envelope or folder (and with you on-hand as you travel, as well). Everything from your passport, residence permit, identification cards/documents, bank certificates, and pretty much anything you had to show for your residence permit application would prove useful at some point of your stay. Keeping some digital copies on at least one of your devices would also be a good idea, just in case!
Having some sort of debit/credit card or digital wallet which you can make purchases with is essential in these modern times, but while the trend is going “cashless” when it comes to paying your day-to-day, it still helps to have some cash on you when you come here. Not all debit/credit cards come ready to use internationally (let this serve as a reminder to check this out with your bank), and there’s always the odd chance it can get blocked or not function properly; not a nice thing to have happen when there’s a long line at the grocery cashier. Also, if you do decide to open up a bank account here in Finland, it can take quite some time before you can get it up and running (besides other things you have to take care of before applying for one, e.g. registration at the DVV). Having some euros on-hand can save you some stress when you encounter the situations where you would really need it. On another note, if ever you decide to buy stuff from the online secondhand market in places like Facebook Marketplace and Tori.fi, a large number of sellers prefer receiving their payment either through MobilePay (which you probably won’t have until you can get online banking credentials) or as cash upon transaction.
Now this may come as a surprise to you, especially if you will be coming to Finland before the schoolyear starts. However, I’ve seen some students – me included – who already needed to wear their winter jackets starting autumn! Unless you absolutely love winter and colder climates, it might be quite beneficial to already have a winter jacket and a couple of cozy sweaters on hand when you first get here. While sunny days are still aplenty in late July and early August, the weather can quickly catch you off guard and leave you a freezing heap if you’re not ready for it. Having a couple warm pieces of clothing can help your acclimitization period go much more easily (or at least until you get the chance to score some nice finds at the many secondhand stores around the city).
You might be starting a new chapter of your life by studying here, but it doesn’t mean you have to forget where you came from and all you’ve already achieved. Moreover, for some international students it’s not the studies that are the hardest part, but rather combatting the feeling of homesickness that may hit you sooner rather than later. With that said, adorning your apartment with some items that remind you of home, your loved ones, and your past successes can help you feel more at home and keep you going when the longing for the familiar hits you.
All the courage you can muster up
We end this blog post with something you can’t put into your luggage no matter how much of it you’re able to collect, but still is something that is just as important as everything else. Pursuing an opportunity to study abroad is already a brave move in itself as you’re setting yourself up to go out of your comfort zone, but it will take more bravery to actually live the opportunity out and do what’s necessary to make your degree studies as meaningful to you as possible. While you may land here in Finland still feeling the nervousness and anxiety from all the “newness” facing you, the process of gathering the grit to accept the world of experience that awaits you starts well before you even step foot on this here Nordic soil.
When looking forward to moving abroad, there will be times where it seems that there are more questions than answers. Luckily, that’s what we have our Student Ambassadors for! If you have any other lingering thoughts, they might have already been addressed in a different blog post. If not, you can also hit any of us up through the UniBuddy chat feature of the university’s website.
Hopefully this helps you as you get ready to start your journey here at Tampere University! Thanks for making it all the way to the end of this blog and who knows – maybe we’ll bump into each other on-campus and I can quiz you on whether or not you brought everything we mentioned above. In any case, onnea ja tervetuloa Tampereen Yliopistoon (good luck and welcome to Tampere University)!