Name: Andrei
Programme at DSV: Master's Programme in Information Systems Management
Semester abroad: HT14
University: AALTO University
Country: Finland

Student report from AALTO University in Finland

Why did you choose to study abroad?
I decided to do Erasmus exchange in Aalto University since it is very appreciated in Finland, and it’s the best technology university in Finland. One of the reasons of studying abroad to me are getting know the culture, getting to know new people and enjoy new things.

What courses did you take and what is your opinion of the quality of the education at the host university?
I had courses in Digital Service Design, Service Management, It Governance, IT Business and Venturing, ICT enabled Service Business and Innovation, Managing Innovative Sales and Management of a Software Venture. Aalto offers a big range of startup and venturing related courses and the quality of the courses is high level. I think the range of the courses available at Aalto compared to DSV is higher, and more interesting. And since the content of the courses are more compact, there is a chance to take more courses and really study the topics that are on the interest. Also compared to DSV, the teaching level is similar, but judgement process is different.

Did you get enough information from the host university prior to and during the semester? (course and welcome-pack and special activities for exchange students)
Yes, the international coordinator informed everyone well in advance. There was also an option for buddy, to talk for first few days and the intro-days were organised nicely. All the courses I chose were implemented.

For international students there are a lot of activities every week arranged by Aalto guilds. The main task of the guild is to promote studies and up bring freshman. Additionally, the guild arranges many kinds of activities. Join a guild, that’s the best you can do during the exchange period!

Note! That there are also a guild for Swedish-speaking students.

Where did you stay and how did you get accommodation?
I did not need to worry about accommodation, but there are two options for applying an apartment. Aalto Student Union Apartmens (http://ayy.fi/en/housing/), where they have rather cheap apartments compared to HOAS (http://www.hoas.fi/), Student housing foundation. There is also option for general market, but the prices are a lot more than these two mentioned options. Both of the housing offices tries to find the accommodation close to the campus area.

Did you have access to a library, study material and computers? Where you satisfied?
Library, in fact many libraries are situated on the campus, and the library card is free of charge. You can also reserve books from other Aalto libraries around the metropolitan area. Mostly the study material was distributed through Aalto’s course portal. With the credentials provided, all the computers around the campus were accessible and ready for use.

In which language was the teaching conducted? Did you take any preparatory language course or prepare in any other way? How would you rate your knowledge of the language, and did you manage to follow the course?
The studies at Master level are mostly in English, but some of the courses are held in Finnish. Since Swedish is official language in Finland, there is also option to write the assignments and exams in Swedish. Also Aalto provides courses in Swedish.

Aalto offers also courses to study Finnish at basic level. All Finns speak very good English, and that’s all you need during your stay in Finland. If you have in mind to stay longer, I really encourage to study Finnish.

Were the living costs expensive or cheap? To what extent did your eventual grant cover your expenses?
The price level is rather same between Sweden and Finland. But it’s good to pay attention that in Finland students are taken into account and served with generous discounts.

E.g. the lunch at the campus restaurants is from 2,6€ (25kr) including main dish from 3 different options, salad, bread and drink. With this price in Stockholm, you cannot even get lunchmacka.

Travelling is also supported, and if you join the student union, you will travel half the price. For commuting to Helsinki, the price for 30 days ticket is 49,30€ but when travelling inside Espoo area, it is only 24,80€.

In what ways do you feel you have developed during the exchange studies? (academic, linguistic, cultural, personal, etc.)
I have mostly made new contacts and improved my academic skills. I really enjoyed the courses relating to startups, since the startup scene in Aalto is extraordinary interesting and well-organised.

Do you have any advice to give other students who are looking to go on an exchange to the same university?
Check the course catalog and you see the range of various courses available. Aalto University is also very close by to Stockholm. You get faster to Aalto University, Finland, than travelling to Malmö for instance. Finland, is very close by and worth to get to know to.