Staying well is a top priority when you arrive in a new environment, adjust to life at Aalto University, and begin your studies. Both mental well-being and physical health are significant for academic success. Therefore:

  • Take care of yourself physically by exercising regularly, eating nutritiously, getting enough sleep, and seeing a doctor promptly if health concerns arise.
  • Maintain your social well-being by staying connected to friends and family at home and becoming involved on campus to make new friends at Aalto. We all need friends and activities that provide relaxation and fun.
  • Care for yourself emotionally. Transitioning to a new university community can be stressful and you may have feelings and worries that you do not normally experience. It is important to be aware of your feelings and reactions, as you begin your life in Finland and at Aalto and reach out for support early on if you feel that you are having difficulties with coping.
  • Set yourself up for academic success by establishing both academic and personal goals and priorities, learning effective time management strategies and strengthening your study skills.

Transition to a new country, culture and academic institution is very demanding and untreated health problems can further challenge you.

Nyyti - student support centre

Nyyti students' support centre offers confidential counselling, support and an outsider's perspective on various situations in life, when you feel helpless or cannot cope alone. Nyyti's most popular services are web groups where various themes are discussed during the academic terms. In cooperation with Nyyti, AYY organises hang out nights that are open to all students. See the hangout night dates in AYY's event calendar or weekly newsletter.

Cultural transition

The process of adjusting to a new culture takes many people by surprise.

 Read more about culture shock

Adapting to your new life at Aalto may take some adjustment. Many students go through a period of being frustrated or disenchanted with their new environment, sometimes called cultural transition or culture shock. This is a normal part of adjusting to a new place. If you feel “lost in translation,” just remember that you are not alone – many other international students have similar experiences. Although each person’s experience will be different and will depend on the individual, the following are typical stages of cultural transition:

Honeymoon stage

When you first arrive, you may experience exhilaration, anticipation, nervousness, and excitement. Remember that settling in takes a significant amount of time and energy. This stage can last from a few days or weeks to several months, depending on your circumstances.

Hostility stage

In the second or third month, you may begin to notice annoying details about your new environment. It may seem as if people in Finland do not understand you, or you may have difficulty understanding them. You may feel frustrated or depressed, angry, or powerless when you have trouble communicating or getting things done, or seemingly for no reason at all. You might wish things could be as they are at home – or you might wish you were at home! Don’t despair. These feelings usually fade as you gain persistence in getting to know your new environment.

Acceptance stage

After some weeks or months, you may start appreciating the differences between your home country and your new environment. You may regain a sense of humour and feel more balanced. The mistakes and misunderstandings that would have frustrated you before may now just make you laugh.

Adaptation stage

Eventually, you may begin to feel at home in your new environment and find greater satisfaction, both personally and academically.

Tips for managing cultural transitions

  • Give yourself time to adjust to your new environment.
  • Attend a club or activity that meets regularly so that you meet people and make friends faster. Try to introduce yourself to at least one person each time you go. Keep in touch with friends and family back home. These relationships can help keep you grounded.
  • Manage your stress by staying healthy: eat well, get enough sleep, and stay physically active.
  • Talk with other students about your cultural transition – you will be surprised by how many of them have or have had similar experiences.
  • If you are having difficulty with the transition, talk to the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS or YTHS in Finnish) or the Psychology Service at the university. In Finland, talking to professionals is an accepted way of dealing with problems.

Sports

Aalto students can take part in many different sports activities.

 Read more

UniSport is a joint venture between Aalto University and the University of Helsinki offering sports and exercise services. The goal of UniSport is to promote well-being in the academic community and society by increasing awareness of personal wellbeing, providing sports and exercise opportunities as well as fostering an environment conducive to exercise.

There are lots of possibilities to find the sport or type of exercise that best suits your study rhythm. Challenge a friend to a salsa class or take a break from the books on a climbing wall! UniSport offers exercise services at the two universities’ six campuses (Otaniemi, Töölö, Helsinki City Centre, Meilahti, Kumpula and Viikki).

Training

A UniSport training card gives you access to all gyms from morning to evening on all the campuses mentioned. You can participate in group fitness sessions as well as ball sports practices and clinics. There are different kinds of sports grounds and gyms on the different campuses, and you can book time in a gym for yourself or your group. Take friends or people from your course to play badminton or floor ball, or even dance. Courses in various sports guarantee an easy way of getting to know new sports or leaning more - from jazz dance to weightlifting. The courses are chargeable.

To learn more and get the feeling: Facebook: Unisport (Helsinki, Espoo)

Club activities

Are you a team player or would you rather exercise on your own but need other enthusiasts to share experiences with? Check out if you can find your own sports club or association from the wide selection of Student Union sporting activities.

Equality

Aalto University is committed to operating ethically, equally and transparently. The aim is to ensure an equal working and study environment in which students and employees regardless of gender, position and background are treated equally. Students are offered equal opportunities to participate in teaching, project work and research activities, and their study performance is evaluated fairly, based on clearly defined learning outcomes declared in advance.

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The responsibility to promote equality applies to all members of the university community and all members of the community are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the Aalto University Equality Plan. The Equality Plan is based on the strategy and values of the university. It is intended to support everyone studying and working at Aalto. Furthermore, the plan is regulated by statutory obligations (Act on Equality between Women and Men and Non-Discrimination Act). Legislation obligates universities to actively promote equality in student admission and the selection of other persons, as well as in study and work arrangements. Aalto University requires good conduct and respect for equality from its personnel and students.

More information:

Equality and Diversity
Equality at Aalto (inside.aalto.fi)
Aalto Equality Committee (inside.aalto.fi)
Code of conduct

What is discrimination?

The Aalto University Equality Plan and Finnish legislation prohibit discrimination and harassment. Discrimination and harassment on any of the grounds stated in the Plan are taken seriously. Discrimination involves treating a person or particular group of people unfairly or differently, because of their skin colour, sex, sexuality, etc. It denies people opportunities and excludes, hurts, or isolates them for reasons that are unrelated to their academic or employment performance.

What is harassment?

Harassment is a form of discrimination that involves a wide range of unwelcome comments or behaviours that humiliate, intimidate, exclude, or isolate an individual or group. Harassment can be either a single, serious incident or a pattern of related, repeated incidents. Harassment is defined by the impact of the behaviour on the person being harassed, rather than by the intent of the harasser. It is not necessary for the target of the harassment to object to the offensive behaviour to make it harassment, for the harasser should know whether or not the behaviour is welcome. In Finland, women and men have the same rights, and no one has to tolerate any form of unwelcome or uninvited sexual advances.

Examples of harassment include:

  • Making racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes or remarks.
  • Touching another person in a sexual manner without that person’s consent.
  • Making repeated advances on a person after that person has indicated a lack of interest.
  • Offering or being offered rewards or compensation in exchange for sexual favours or being threatened with some sort of punishment for not complying with sexual advances.

What should I do if I face inappropriate treatment?

Aalto University Student Union (AYY) has two Harassment Contact Persons. AYY defends its members’ welfare not only in studies-related matters but in other issues as well. Discriminating talk, sexist jokes, racial slurs and sexual harassment will not be tolerated. If you experience sexual harassment, bullying or other unacceptable behaviour at the university, do not hesitate to contact AYY’s harassment contact persons. Write down what happened, when it happened and who were present in the situation. You should also keep any e-mails or other messages. Documented material allows AYY to investigate the matter. 

Accessibility

Aalto University understands the importance of fostering the well-being and academic progress of all its students through accessible services and support throughout the studies.

 Read more

The diversity of the Aalto community is apparent in all the six Aalto schools and their campuses, classes, student organisations and residential life. Appreciation of diversity at all levels not only is a general resource for the entire university community, but more importantly, empowers all our students to reach their full potential.

Physical and psychological disabilities can limit the student’s ability to pursue studies. Disabilities affect the abilities to study in varying and individual ways. In order to facilitate studying, it is possible for a student with disabilities to apply for extended time in an examination, or ask for technical aid or other support. These cases can be agreed upon with the Learning Services staff  or the teacher of the course in question.

However, should the student’s disability require the help of a personal assistant or the purchase of a particular piece of equipment, for example, the student should be prepared to provide for the costs if he/she is not a permanent resident of Finland. If the student is a permanent resident of Finland, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) or the student’s home municipality normally covers the costs of this kind of accommodations. Students with disabilities or specific learning difficulties are recommended to contact the Learning Services well in advance for advice and information, preferably at the time of applying. Please remember to give detailed information on the kind of support and accommodations needed.

More information:
Diversity and accessibility for Students
Diverse learners

Safety

Finland is a safe country, but keep your head with you.

 More information on safety

Travelling documents and insurances

Information about travelling documents and required insurances.

Contact information in case of emergency

The emergency number is 112.

It is generally advised that you should have the abbreviation ICE (In Case of Emergency) included in the contact information of the persons, who you want to be contacted for example in case you get into an accident (for example ICE Jack or ICE Mum). This is also very important if you have severe allergies or some medication.

Health care and medication

Information about health care and medication.

Crimes and security

In general, Finland is a safe country, but you should still stay aware of what is happening around you. In Finland, it is typical that laws and regulations are followed. Laws concerning for example narcotics are strict, as also are the punishments and fines.

Traffic

Whether you are planning to drive a car in Finland or not, you should acknowledge the effects of the climate and the four seasons in Finland. During winter the streets and the roads can be very slippery, which affects the stopping distances of cars.

If you are to drive in Finland, keep in mind that wearing a seatbelt and keeping the lights on are obligatory. It is also obligatory to have winter tyres during the winter. More information about traffic and road safety can be found from the Liikenneturva website.