Foreign student in Finland – Bureaucracy?

I haven’t always been an Executive Director of the Student Union JAMKO. During my Studies at the University of Applied Sciences in Vaasa and later on at the University of Jyväskylä I used the given possibilities to go Abroad. I studied in two occasions in Germany and once in Sweden. I still have many close friends from these Exchange periods. I look back these times with gratitude because I learned a lot. Going abroad broadens the perspective – you really learn to understand other cultures and respect your own.

When you go abroad doing things right often means jumping into the gears of Bureaucracy. As odd as it may sound, sometimes Bureaucracy makes the system work not only efficiently but also equally. Rules are the same for everybody.  I remember when I had to take a pile of paper forms to different offices while I was in Germany. That was the case for other foreign exchange students as well. I felt some kind of pride when I had run through all the numerous offices and got all the needed stamps on my papers in order to start my studies there. I managed in that despite the fact that many of the offices had very limited opening hours. At that point I had learned to take care of myself and cope with my skills abroad.

So I guess I know, how it feels coming to a foreign country. Finland is an European country so it is pretty regulated what you have to do when you arrive here. If you are a student already I am pretty sure you know. However, every now and then Legislation and rules do change. This is the case with the new guidelines administered by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. All the foreign students staying in Finland for their Studies for a longer time than three months (90 days) have to register at the Local Register Office (Maistraatti) in order to get a Finnish personal identity code. The Universities will inform new students about this. If you are already here for an exchange and your time is almost up – this won’t concern you. The Immigration Services and higher education institutions send Information Letters to the newly accepted degree and exchange students and those that have recently arrived to Finland.

 Increasing Bureaucracy has sometimes its advantages – by getting the Finnish Identity Code, opening a bank account etc. where the code might become easier in the future.

 All in all. Follow the instructions you will get from the University of Applied Sciences. Don’t get frustrated – you will learn skills that you probably need. Enjoy your stay here in Finland!

To ease the anxiety that you might encounter – here is a useful link for you who have arrived / or are planning to come to Finland in order to study.

Hannu Järvistö

Executive Director of JAMKO

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