"What now?": a short to-do list to make your arrival in Finland smoother
Things you need to do before and after arriving in Finland.
You have been accepted to the University of Oulu, you have gotten all your documents ready, and you now have a residence permit if needed.
It is finally time to start packing your bags and preparing for your trip to Finland.
And while you're probably doing a countdown and getting very excited about your trip, you should remember there are some things you need to do during your first weeks or months in Finland. In this post, we are going to go through some of them together, and you will be able to understand what your following steps are. Let's go!
Before you arrive
Now that almost everything is prepared, and you surely have packed your warmest clothes, you should try to get the following items done before you get here - it will make your life a bit easier.
Pay the student union membership fee and the Kela healthcare fee
In Finland, all bachelor's and master's students are required to be members of the student union - in Oulu, it is known as OYY -, which means you are required to pay a membership fee. Being a member, you can have access to services such as counselling and legal advice, as well as access to events organized by the union. You can find instructions on paying the fee on OYY's website.
Along with that, you need to pay the Kela healthcare fee for the semester. By doing this, you are entitled to use the Finnish Student Health Service - FSHS. You will not be billed, so remember to pay as soon as possible. This is highly important since it gives you access to consultations and diverse health services in general free of additional charge. You can use the services throughout the whole year, including during summer. You can find more information on the links below.
Check if you have gotten information about your kummis
A kummi is a student tutor who will help you prior to your arrival and during your first weeks in Oulu. Kummis are students from your own programme, and they will send you a message around 1 or 2 months before your studies start.
Being in touch with them is a great way to meet new friends before you even get to the city. They are really helpful, and you can reach out to them if you have any doubts. Don't be shy to ask them for help when you need it - remember that they went through the same things as you when they started their studies.
Activate your student account and register for your courses
Before the beginning of the semester, you will receive an email with information about how to activate and access your student account - do that soon to check if everything works properly. If you have any problems, you can reach out to the university's ICT services - I had to contact them, and everything was solved fast.
After activating the account, you can start registering for your courses. To check what courses you need to take in the first semester, you can go to Peppi and look for your programme.
Make sure everything is set up with PSOAS
You are about to meet your new home. If you have gotten an apartment through PSOAS, make sure you paid the deposit and remember to pay rent before the 5th. After that, arrange to take your keys - check to which PSOAS office you should go to. If you can't take the keys yourself, you can ask your kummi to do so and hand them to you when you arrive.
If your rent does not include an electricity contract, this is also the time to make one. You can check more information about moving in on PSOAS' website.
Book an appointment for the DVV
Once you get to Finland, you need to register yourself and your new address in the Digital and Population Data Services Agency (DVV). If you didn't get a Finnish Personal Identity Code when you got your residence permit, you will get one there. However, regardless of having the FPIC or not, you need to book an appointment and register.
I recommend you try to book it as soon as possible - I had to wait for a while for my appointment; some of my colleagues had to wait for a long time, but some were able to go as soon as they arrived. After going to the DVV, you will have to wait for a few weeks to be registered in the Population Information System. You should try to go as soon as possible as it takes a while.
Upon your arrival
Book an appointment with the bank
Once you get to Finland, you can already book an appointment to open a bank account. It is important that you check what are your options to see which one is best for you. Many banks offer accounts for students specifically, so I advise you to look for those. Having a Finnish bank account will be helpful for another step on the list.
After being registered on the DVV, get your Finnish ID
After you have been registered in the Population Information System, you will receive an email from the DVV. If you are registered, you can proceed to ask for a Finnish identity card for foreigners. The ID card is issued by the Police, and you can request it online (with the need to book an appointment later on) or directly in-person in the police station. Take the needed documents to the police station when you go. After requesting the ID, it is issued in a few days.
Connect your Finnish ID to your bank account
This is something I wish I had known before I got here. In Finland, there's something called "strong identification/authentication" for e-services. It is basically a means to safely prove someone's identity when they log into some online services, such as public administration e-services.
To book an appointment for a covid-19 vaccination online, for example, you need to have credentials for strong authentication, or otherwise, you need to call. Being able to use the identification system makes things easier and more accessible.
To be able to use it, you need two things: a Finnish ID card and a bank account. Once you have both, you can take your card to your chosen bank, and they will connect both and give you access to your credentials.
This process is usually quite fast and makes your life easier to navigate. You can also book an appointment with the bank after you have gotten your Finnish ID - that way, you can open the account and get the credentials all at once, too.
Enjoy your new journey!
Now that all that is done, it is time just to enjoy the ride! Follow your kummi's and your programme's instructions for the first weeks - after that, you will easily learn how to navigate everything in the university. Make new friends from all over the world, have fun and wait for the first snow - it might come sooner than you think! :)
About the author
Beatriz Mello from Brazil is currently completing her master's degree in Learning, Education and Technology. She was an exchange student in Finland during her bachelor's, and she loved the student life so much that she decided to come back and experience more of it.