What it’s like to be a foreigner in a Nordic country


Moi! Minun nimi on Jasmine ja olen kotoisin Itävallasta.
For those who speak even less Finnish than me – Hi, my name is Jasmine and I’m from Austria – I’m currently doing my exchange semester at the university of XAMK in Kouvola, Finland. I chose to write for Insider the next few months because I want you to be a part of my adventure in here and to show you what it’s like to be a foreigner in a Nordic country.

1 month ago, I arrived at Helsinki airport and literally, all I could see was forest, forest, forest. Well, I knew there will not be much houses nor people, as the population is almost half of the population of Austria (Austria ~84.000 km²/Finland ~338.000 km²), but honestly, I didn’t expected it to be like this. It was even more shocking for me to go from the capital Helsinki to the small city of Kouvola, because never in my life have I seen an emptier train and fewer people in the streets of a city then this day. But I guess that’s just how things are in Finland.

However, after living here for nearly a month I figured out that you rather take the bus at 10 am to get to your afternoon lessons (Because there won’t be a better connection after 10 am), to rather wear more than less (even in September) and to better buy alcohol in Estonia – because it’s way too expensive in here!

Besides expensive food/drinking and the moody weather, I enjoy studying at XAMK, I really do. Kouvolan campus is separated in a couple buildings, but as an International Business student I’m in the main building most of the time. The building itself is really nice and I enjoy my lessons and the teaching methods of XAMK as I learn how to think outside the box, to transform knowledge into innovations and to use my knowledge in everyday business life situations.

Further, the cafeteria is a real blessing! They serve fresh, tasty, traditional Finnish food every weekday for reasonable prices (I even go there when I don’t have lectures) – a real lifesaver for poor exchange students who are not used to Nordic prices!
Another Pro for the country Finland is its location! From here you can go literally everywhere in the North in just a few hours for adequate prices – Tallinn, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Olso…

But how Goethe would say, “Why seek far afield when the good could not be any closer by?”
Lovely forests, with lots of mushrooms and berries in it, nice Saunas, thousands of crystal clear lakes and a stunning architecture, that’s what Finland is all about. And of course, that’s why I came here and chose to stay here for a whole semester.

So that sums up my life in Finland quite well, my next article will be about why Austria should definitely be on your bucket list – so stay tuned!

Jasmine Laimer

Jasmine Laimer

International Business exchange student from Austria @ XAMK, Kouvolan campus
Jasmine Laimer

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