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Before the exchange

Congratulations! You have just been accepted for exchange studies at Åbo Akademi University. But now what to do? Please check below for a list of things to do before you arrive to Finland, plus some other useful information.

Once you have been accepted as an exchange student with us there are a few things that you should prepare and organize before your arrival to Finland.

  1. Apply for housing in either Åbo or Vasa. For more information please check the following website: Housing and Living
  2. Organize a travel insurance for your travels to Finland
  3. Check if you need to buy extra health insurance before your travels to Finland (information below)
  4. Join our incoming exchange student Facebook groups. You should receive the links to the Facebook groups along with your acceptance letter
  5. Check immigration rules to see if you need to apply for a student residence permit (only for students coming from outside the EU/EEA – The UK is now classed as outside the EU/EEA). You should have received information in your acceptance letter, you can also check here – Migri 
  6. Wait for your tutor to contact you, if you have selected that you would like a student tutor

As soon as you have received your Acceptance Letter from us, please apply for the residence permit immediately. It may take some time for your application to be processed and for you to receive more information.

Please read and follow instructions carefully on the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) website for Instructions for exchange students.

If you already have a valid residence permit issued by another EU country, you can see if you are able to make a mobility notification to Finland.

When you apply for the residence permit, you will be asked if you want to be registered in the Finnish Population System and receive a Finnish Personal Identity Code. We highly recommend you do this now as if you choose not to you will still have to do it later once you have arrived to Finland.

The application will also ask you for a National Learner ID – we do not give this to exchange students and you can submit the residence permit application without it.

 

EU/EEA citizens do not need a residence permit to study in Finland, however they do need to register their right of residence at the Finnish Immigration Service.

The registration is required by law if you are staying in Finland for more than 90 days without leaving the country.

You can complete the only application form before arriving to Finland, and then book an appointment to visit a service point in Finland (Åbo or Vasa) after you have arrived.

All international students arriving and staying in Finland need to make sure that they have health insurance for the entire stay in Finland, as well as travel to and from Finland.

EU/EEA Citizens

If you are a citizen of an EU or an EEA country, your European Health Insurance Card is valid in Finland. You must bring this card with you to Finland. The card gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during your temporary stay in Finland under the same conditions and at the same cost as people insured in Finland.

Important – the European Health Insurance Card:

  • is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not cover any private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country or lost/stolen property,
  • does not cover your costs if you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment,
  • does not guarantee free services. Each healthcare system is different, services that do not cost in your home country might cost in another country. Health care in Finland costs a small amount, so please be aware of this and be prepared to pay the fee when visiting the healthcare centre.

As a European citizen, we still highly recommend you to take health insurance for your stay in Finland. For a list of recommended health insurance providers, please visit the Migri website.

Non EU/EEA Citizens

If you are not a citizen of an EU country, or Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, or Switzerland, you are required to have a health insurance for your entire stay in Finland. This is also a requirement of the residence permit application for Finland.

All insurance must meet the following requirements:

  • The insurance excess may not be more than EUR 300.
  • If your studies take less than two years, your insurance must cover medical expenses up to EUR 120,000.
  • If you stay in Finland for less than a year, your insurance must be valid throughout your entire stay in Finland.
  • If your studies in Finland take longer than a year, your insurance must be valid without a break for at least one year. There cannot be any restrictions on the validity of your insurance. It must be valid throughout your entire stay in Finland. This means that the insurance cannot be a regular travel insurance that is only valid during trips that last a maximum of 90 days.
    • If you get a residence permit for two years but your insurance is only valid for a year, remember to renew your insurance.
  • Your insurance must be valid when you arrive in Finland.

For more information about health insurances in Finland for residence permit and a list of recommended insurance providers, please visit the Migri website. 

NB: Students doing lab work needs to have an accident/liability insurance as well as a travel insurance.

For information on what to do if you get sick during your exchange please visit this page: During the exchange

Exchange students do not have to pay any tuition fees at Åbo Akademi University. However, students have to pay for their accommodation and living expenses. There are also some initial expenses at the beginning of the stay that students should be prepared for: e.g. the Student Union membership fee, key deposit fee, and a starting package fee, which will be partially refunded.

Before leaving your home country you should make sure that you have enough funds for the stay through grants, scholarships or private funds. The University does not offer any financial aid to international students and students should not rely on finding a job while in Finland.

Example of a student’s monthly living expenses:
Student Housing
Please note, that private housing options are more expensive.
285-430 Euros
Food 300-350 Euros
Local transportation 38 Euros
Miscellaneous 100-200 Euros
Total 670-965 Euros

 

Exchange students do not have to pay any tuition fees at Åbo Akademi University. However, students have to pay for their accommodation and living expenses. There are also some initial expenses at the beginning of the stay that students should be prepared for: e.g. the Student Union membership fee, key deposit fee, and a starting package fee, which will be partially refunded.

Before leaving your home country you should make sure that you have enough funds for the stay through grants, scholarships or private funds. The University does not offer any financial aid to international students and students should not rely on finding a job while in Finland.

Åbo can easily be reached by buses, trains, ferries and planes. Please see the website of the tourist information here, when planning your trip to Åbo. We also encourage you to familiarize yourself with our page on a sustainable exchange.

Vasa has very good connections, with an airport, train station and bus station close to the city center. See the pages of the tourist information here, before planning you trip to Vasa. Please also check our page on a sustainable exchange here.

Apartment keys are normally released on the first working day of a month. Please observe when planning your travelling that the orientation week is compulsory for all exchange students.

Exchange students in Åbo 

If you are staying in an apartment offered by TYS, you can collect your key from the office within its opening hours. If you wish to pick up your key outside the office’s opening hours, you can attain it from a key pick-up locker. The locker is located in the vestibule of the Tyyssija A-staircase (Inspehtorinkatu 12A, 20540 Turku). If you collect the key outside the office hours from the key pick-up locker, you must notify the office by e-mail to office@tys.fi no later than 12 noon on the previous working day.

The key pick-up locker works like a parcel locker with a code. You will be notified via SMS when the keys can be retrieved from the locker. The key pick-up locker is open 24 hours a day. Outside office hours, the locked front door can be accessed via the lockers´s PIN code. Once the PIN code has been entered into the external door code device, you must wait for the door to open. Note that there is a small delay in the door opening.

Exchange students in Vasa 

Students staying in the apartments offered by Lärkan or VOAS can pick up their keys during the office’s opening hours. If you are unable to collect your key during the opening hours and you have chosen to have a tutor, you can contact your tutor in a timely manner to see if s/he can collect your key before your arrival, provided that the key is available. Remember to inform your tutor of your arrival date, as well as the exact time and place of arrival.

Depending on your accommodation you need to make sure you have internet access.

Exchange students in Åbo 

If you are staying in an apartment offered by TYS, you have wired internet ready in the apartments, you need to have RJ45 cable to use it. If you want to make the connection wireless, you need a wireless router. In addition, Iltakajo and Yo-kylä exchange student buildings have Eduroam wireless as well.

Exchange students in Vasa

If you are staying at an apartment offered by Lärkan, a Wi-Fi exists but you need a router which is registered with the phone company DNA. You can find more information here.

Exchange students often need to make international payments before arriving to Finland and after arriving to Finland, e.g., paying the student union fee and starting package fee etc.

For students coming from within the EU, these payment are often easy and go smoothly, However for students coming from outside of the EU, there are often charges and difficulties around international payments, and therefore we recommend our exchange students to use the following providers for international payments:

WISE

Wise is an international cross border provider to transfer money, which allows users to transfer money in all currencies, quick and cheaply. Wise also allows users to create an account and transfer money to the account and spend with a card, although this option is only available for users with certain currencies (not all currencies).

REVOLUT

Revolut is an international bank account that users can open in “just seconds” via an app. Users should provide all information and proof of ID and can then successfully open an account and receive a bank card. Users can then transfer money to the account and spend with the card or make cross border payments in different currencies.

WISE or REVOLUT? Which one is best for me?

 

We recommend that you watch these comparison videos to determine which provider is best for you and your banking needs:

Please note that it is your responsibility to check plans, fees, and exchange rates yourselves. You should compare the companies and decide which one is better for you. What may be best for one student, may not be the best for another student. You may also not need to use WISE or REVOLUT if you use Euros in your home country or if you can easily transfer money for low costs.

Step-by-step guide on making a payment using WISE

 

Opening a bank account in Finland is hard and can take a long time. Exchange students need to first apply for their Finnish personal ID number (during orientation week) before you can open a bank account and some bank accounts still take several weeks to open. We do not recommend exchange students to open bank accounts in Finland if you are staying only for one semester. For your international payments before and after arriving to Finland we recommend that you use either Wise or Revolut.

Students staying for a whole academic year may feel that opening a bank account in Finland is useful. If you need a bank account in Euros we suggest that you open an international account with Wise or Revolut. Please note that it is your responsibility to check plans, fees, and exchange rates yourselves.

If you choose to join the Student Union of Åbo Akademi, you will receive lots of membership benefits such as discounts on lunches at the student restaurants, discounts on ticket prices on trains and long-distance coaches, reduced rates at youth hostels and the possibility to get a student bus card for the local buses in Åbo. In addition, you will of course be able to use the services of the student union, i.e., renting saunas, advocacy in student-related matters and advice.

The membership fee can be paid for the whole academic year or per semester. The fee should be paid prior to the registration at the University during the orientation week. Note that you should print or take a screenshot of the receipt and bring it to the registration. For more information on the membership fee, please see the website of the student union.

Once you have paid the student union fee and you have been registered as attending at the University, you can activate your Finnish student card from www.frank.fi/en. For more information on the student card and the student union please visit: The Student Union and student card.

As a member of the student union and as an exchange student, you are entitled to borrow a starting package from our student unions in Åbo or Vasa. The starting package contains various household items, such as kitchen utensils, a blanket and a pillow. The starting package is not mandatory to take, but it is very convenient and will make your stay in Finland a lot more comfortable and less expensive.

For you to be able to rent a starting package you have to pay the student union membership fee as well as a deposit fee of the starting package.

Exchange students in Åbo 

Exchange students in Åbo staying at an TYS apartment, should note that the apartments are completely empty except for bed, therefore we recommend you rent the starting package. In order to rent the starting package in Åbo, you need to pay the student union fee and the fee of the starting package. When collecting your starting package you need to show both receipts.

Note that the packages cannot be reserved in advance and that there is only a limited number of packages available. The updated opening hours of the starting package storage can be found here. You do not need to book a time to collect the package, you can just go during the opening hours.

Exchange students in Vasa

In the Lärkan and VOAS accommodations, there is nothing in the rooms apart from a bed and a desk. In order to rent a starting package in Vasa, you need to fill out the contract paper electronically, pay the fee of the starting package and the fee of the student union. The contract and the receipts should be sent to havtornen@studentkaren.fi.

When the agreement is accepted by the staff you should schedule a pick-up time. When collecting the starting package, you need to show the receipt of the membership fee and the fee of the package.

Visit the website of the student union for more information.

Please read through our sustainable exchange guide which we have created for incoming exchange students. You can find information there on how to travel to Finland in a sustainable way and other tips for your time in Finland.

Updated 29.4.2024