PART ONE: THE FULBRIGHT PROGRAM IN FINLAND
The general objectives of the Fulbright program in Finland are expressed
in the Finnish-American Fulbright Agreement of July 2, 1952. The opening
paragraph of the Agreement says that it was executed because of the desire
"to promote further mutual understanding between the peoples of Finland
and the United States of America by a wider exchange of knowledge and
professional talents through educational contacts."
More specifically, the program aims to broaden and deepen the Finnish
people's acquaintance with American society and civilization; to stimulate
the American people's appreciation of Finnish society and civilization; to
help induce more emphasis in the school and college curriculae of each
country on formal instruction about the institutions of the other; to
sharpen appreciation of the two countries' common heritage of democratic
institutions; and to bring about a wider and more reciprocal sharing of
knowledge and skills in the fields of art, science and technology.
The program is financed from three sources. Funds are provided annually
by the U.S. Government through the U.S. Information Agency under the
Fulbright Agreement, and are matched by funds from the Finnish government
through the Ministry of Education. A third source derives from Finland's
repayments of a debt to the United States for post-war relief in
1919-1920. The 81st Congress in 1949 made available "as an act of abiding
friendship and good will" all subsequent payments (ca. $13.5 million) of
this debt for educational exchange.
The debt would have been repaid in full by 1984. In order to secure
continuation of the funding, the two governments agreed on October 29,
1975, that Finland would pay the remaining debt, including interest,
during 1976 and that the U.S. Government would then convey this amount
(about $2.8 million) to a binational Trust Fund in Finland. The
educational exchange program would then be financed in perpetuity from
proceeds of the Trust Fund.
A significant portion of FUSEEC's financing is obtained from the Trust
Fund. This accounts for the program being known locally as the
"ASLA-Fulbright" program ("ASLA" being an acronym of the Finnish
Amerikan Suomen Lainan Apurahat, or "grants from America's loan to
Finland"). FUSEEC's budget for the 1990-1991 program year includes 37
grants for Americans and 44 grants for Finns, a total of 81 scholarly
I. FUSEEC RESPONSIBILITIES TO AMERICAN GRANTEES
As described in the "Terms of Award" which accompanied your Grant
Authorization, FUSEEC acts as an administrative intermediary for Fulbright
grants between institutions such as the Board of Foreign Scholarships,
Institute of International Education, Council for the International
Exchange of Scholars, United States Information Agency, and higher
education or other scholarly institutions in Finland with which grantees
will be affiliated.
FUSEEC responsibilities to grantees are primarily the provision of grant
monies and institutional placement to enable Fulbright study, teaching, or
research projects initiated by the grantee or the Finnish host
institution. FUSEEC is also responsible for ensuring that grantees are
knowledgeable of, and abide by, program regulations as established by the
Fulbright-Hays Act, or locally by the Commission's Board of Directors.
The FUSEEC Board of Directors recommends candidates for grants, within the
scope of rules set by the Board of Foreign Scholarships in Washington.
The Board also decides about possible extensions of grants, makes
recommendations concerning the size of grant allowances, adjusting these
when necessary, and rules on cases of infractions of grant stipulations.
The FUSEEC staff advises grantees on matters relating to Fulbright Program
regulations and the tenure of individual grantee projects during the
grantee's stay in Finland. FUSEEC handles payment of maintenance, travel,
and possible incidental allowances. Further, it arranges general
orientation and social events for grantees.
However, primary responsibility for practical orientation into the
grantee's local environment and community of residence in Finland resides
with the host institution and the initiative of the grantee. This concerns
particularly housing, food services, information and arrangements for
student or staff discounts, public transportation, language courses, or
other local matters for which the procedures vary within different
universities and municipalities.
II. DIFFERENCES IN GRANTEE CATEGORIES AND HOST RESPONSIBILITY
American grantees currently fall into one of four categories:
- Lecturers or Research Scholars, whose projects have been requested by
the host Finnish institution;
- Short-term and "Unspecified Field"
Researchers, who proposed their own projects, but requested affiliation
from a Finnish institution to facilitate the project;
Students, who proposed their own study or research projects, with a
request for student or visiting scholar affiliation with a Finnish
- the Bicentennial Chair, at the University of
Grant amounts, regulations, and local arrangements differ for each of
these categories. Each grantee will have received and accepted via the
Grant Authorization and "Terms and Conditions of Award" the specific
conditions of his or her personal grant. Differences in grant categories
and local arrangements are summarized in the following. Should grantees
have any questions concerning their entitlements from either FUSEEC or the
host institution, please contact FUSEEC, which will determine the answer
in cooperation with the host institution.
II.a. LECTURERS AND RESEARCH SCHOLARS
Lecturers and Research Scholars arrive to take up teaching or research
projects which have been initiated by their host institution. Their
primary contact is with the personnel of their host Finnish institution.
Normally, the grantee's host professor and possibly International
Coordinator will have been in touch concerning local arrangements for
nearly six months prior to the grantee's arrival in Finland. Should you
not have heard from your host institution within reasonable time after
receipt of your grant documents, please contact FUSEEC for assistance.
Personnel from the host institution will meet the grantee upon arrival
in Finland, and see to the local establishment and orientation of the
grantee and his or her dependents. The institution is responsible for
locating and financing reasonable accommodations for the grantee and
possible dependents. This is considered "partial scholarship" rather than
"housing" in order to avoid possible taxation on the benefit.
II.b. SHORT-TERM AND UNSPECIFIED FIELD RESEARCHERS
Arrangements for Short-term and "Unspecified Field" researchers differ
from the above. These scholars have proposed their own research projects,
with a proposed institution of affiliation in Finland. In all cases,
scholars have been accepted by a host Finnish institution. However, as
the Finnish institution did not itself request the scholar (and therefore
could not budget for such a prospect) it has no financial obligation to
Housing arrangements for Short-Term and Unspecified-Field Researchers
are the responsibility of the grantee. Often, such grantees will have had
personal connections at the host institution upon whom they may call for
assistance. They may also request assistance from the institution's
International Coordinator. Please note, however, that while most
institutions will try as a courtesy to accommodate the needs of scholars,
they are not obliged to do so. Moreover, any financial assistance from
the host institution, whether for housing, research or teaching
arrangements, is strictly a voluntary endeavor of the institution.
II.c. GRADUATE STUDENTS
1. Co-sponsored Students.
Some Fulbright Graduate Students are co-sponsored by the Ministry of
Education, and the rest are supported solely by FUSEEC. Grantees
co-sponsored between FUSEEC and the Ministry of Education will have
student housing arranged for them by the Ministry, which will contact the
grantees directly about arrangements. The monthly Maintenance Allowance
for these grantees is divided between the Ministry and FUSEEC, and paid
directly to the grantee's bank account.
2. Full FUSEEC Students.
Graduate grantees totally sponsored by FUSEEC are responsible for
arranging their own housing. In practice, most FUSEEC grantees live in
student housing. Grantees should initiate the request for student housing
immediately after signing their grant papers. Write to your host
institution's Foreign Student Advisor or International Coordinator, who
will forward a priority application for you to the local Student Housing
Foundation Office. Names and addresses of International Coordinators are
appended to this book.
If you wish to contact the Student Housing Foundation office directly,
its address may be found in Higher Education in Finland: Guide For
Foreign Students. The Guide also lists other services
available through your institution of affiliation, and various discounts
available to graduate grantees who register as "Visiting Students."
3. Arrangements For Private Housing.
Some past graduate grantees have lived in private housing. If this is
desired, one may inquire from the host institution's Foreign Student
Advisor whether assistance with such housing is available, but please note
the host institution is under no obligation to assist with other than
FUSEEC does not arrange housing for grantees. Should grantees wish
FUSEEC assistance with newspaper advertisements for housing, the grantee
is also obliged to pay for such ads.
The monthly Maintenance Allowance of FUSEEC-sponsored grantees will be
paid directly into the grantee's bank account. FUSEEC will advise you
shortly after your arrival of the procedure for opening a bank account and
how payments will be initiated.
4. Host-Institution Orientation.
An orientation will be provided to grantees by the host institution as
part of its normal services to foreign students. This orientation
introduces the student to institutional resources and facilities, its
study curriculum and academic procedure, co-curricular and extracurricular
organizations, "survival skills" for the municipality in which the
institution is located, and an overview of Finnish life, culture, and
language. Beyond this is usually an informal orientation to the academic
unit hosting the student.
Often coordinated with the host-institution's orientation is an
introduction to student union activities. Finnish student unions are
influential and operate a wide range of activities for general student
welfare. These range from the ownership and operation of student housing,
bookstores, and restaurants to the provision of legal counseling services
and organization of numerous academic and social functions. The student
union is the primary problem-solving mechanism for students at Finnish
universities. There is also a Foreign Student Federation with local and
national activities which have often been of interest to grantees.
Details on the schedule and content of your host institution's
orientation may be obtained from the Foreign Student Advisor or
International Coordinator. The extent of institutional orientations, as
well as other host services, may vary from one institution to another.
II.d. THE BICENTENNIAL CHAIR IN AMERICAN STUDIES
Financing and other arrangements for the Bicentennial Chairholder are
divided between FUSEEC and the University of Helsinki. FUSEEC will
provide travel and incidental allowances. The University of Helsinki will
arrange housing, and pay 50% of both the rent and Maintenance Allowance,
with FUSEEC paying the remaining 50%. Orientation services will be
provided by the University of Helsinki.
III. GRANTEE RESPONSIBILITIES
The role of each grantee is important in carrying out the objectives of
the Fulbright program. In addition to his or her own work, grantees are
expected to help foster mutual knowledge and good will between the United
States and Finland. Please refer to your "Terms of Award" to clarify the
provisions of your grant and your obligations and benefits under its
Final reports are required from all grantees, and an additional mid-
year "progress report" for full-year grantees. The progress report should
be submitted to FUSEEC by January 15 for grantees staying the full
academic year. Final reports, for which a special form is distributed,
should be submitted by December 15 for grantees staying only the fall
term. Full-year grantees should submit the final report by the end of May
or prior to departure, if departure from Finland is at an earlier or later
date. Both reports must be typed. A typewriter and word-processing
equipment is available in the FUSEEC offices should grantees not have
access to their own.
IV. EVALUATION REPORT REIMBURSEMENT
Grantee reports are required by the regulations of the Fulbright Program,
and are used by FUSEEC and the Ministry of Education in Finland and BFS,
CIES and USIA in the United States. Failure to submit reports will hinder
administration of the Program, and jeopardize the grantee's candidacy for
future Fulbright grants. Grantees must submit these reports. FIM 500.00
will be reimbursed to grantees upon submission of their final report.
V. GRANTEE FINANCES
The Maintenance Allowance is normally for "nine months" (one academic
year) or "four months" (one semester). Each grantee will receive the
allowance in nearly equal monthly installments, paid directly into the
grantee's bank account during the first week of the month, except for the
final month, when 500 marks from the stipend will be reimbursed on
submission of the final report. Maintenance allowances are only paid to
the grantee's Finnish bank account. Any Finnish Mark payments issued by
check for incidental expenses should be cashed in Finland.
The maintenance allowance is intended only to assist with ordinary living
costs in Finland. It bears no relation to the grantee's U.S. salary, nor
is it meant to pay dependents' international travel. It is not intended
to cover all local living expenses, or extraordinary project costs such as
film, art materials, extensive photocopying, and the like.
Grantees should be prepared to make adjustments in both housing and
diet. The maintenance allowance will not suffice to cover large purchases
of winter wear or sports equipment. The allowance is also not designed to
cover travel in Europe during or after the grant period.
Residency Restrictions and Grant Adjustments.
The policy regulating the payment of maintenance allowances states that
when a nine-month grantee travels abroad during the grant period, the full
May maintenance will be paid:
If a grantee leaves Finland before May 15, the maintenance
will be paid only up to the departure date. This policy also applies to
grants of less than 9 months, pro-rated to the length of stay.
- If the grantee intends to remain in
Finland for the entire month of May, even though the active study or
lecture program has been completed; [or]
- If the grantee intends to depart Finland on or after May 15, and has
not spent over 15 days outside the country during the grant period. If a
grantee has travelled outside Finland during the grant period, has a total
absence of over 30 days, and wishes to depart before May 30, an adjustment
will be made in the allowance if the Board so rules.
VI. THE INCIDENTAL ALLOWANCE
The allowance for incidental educational expenses for Lecturers, Research
Scholars, and Unspecified-Field Researchers is 1500 marks for 9-month
grantees and 667 marks for 4-month grantees. Allowances can be used to
cover the cost of books, materials, services and travel within Finland
essential to the grantee's project. Due to provisions of the
Fulbright-Hays Act, the incidental allowance is not available to the
graduate category, either for study or research.
Book, material and equipment purchases from the incidental expense
funds shall, upon completion of the project in Finland, be turned over to
FUSEEC unless it is determined by the Board that the materials are
essential to the completion of the project after termination of the grant
(this is usually the case).
Incidental allowance payments are reimbursements against receipts which
indicate the nature of the expense. You cannot be reimbursed without
receipts. Payments will be made only up to the maximum incidental
allowance. Grantees should also keep their own records of such expenses.
VII. DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN TRAVEL DURING YOUR GRANT
All local travel in connection with your project that you wish to be paid
for from the incidental allowance fund must be approved in advance by the
Executive Director. If you live outside Helsinki, you buy your own ticket
and send the receipt to FUSEEC for reimbursement. In addition to the
reimbursement for local travel expenses the grantee may claim a per diem
when the travel is essential to the project.
All travel outside Finland during the period of a Fulbright grant must
receive prior approval of the FUSEEC Board. If a grantee has travelled
outside Finland during the grant period, has a total absence of over 30
days and wishes to depart before May 30, an adjustment will be made in the
Maintenance Allowance unless the Board has specifically approved the
extended travel. The Incidental Allowance cannot be used for foreign
VIII. ARRIVAL AND ORIENTATION IN FINLAND
Lecturers and Research Scholars normally will be met upon arrival in
Finland by representatives of their host institution, or by FUSEEC. If
grantees require arrival assistance, please write FUSEEC well in advance
with the appropriate arrival information (day, time, flight number,
airline) so that arrangements might be made. In case of last-minute
changes or emergencies outside FUSEEC office hours, you may telephone the
American Embassy and ask for the Cultural Affairs Officer. The U.S.
direct-dial number is 011-358-0-171931. The Embassy address is Itäinen
Puistotie 14, 00140 Helsinki. The Embassy telephone will be answered
between 0830-1700 Finnish time; thereafter a recorded message will direct
In addition to host-institution orientations, in which all grantees
should participate, FUSEEC will arrange an orientation for all grantees
and dependents during the early part of September. This orientation will
focus on policies, concerns, and practical arrangements of the Fulbright
program, and other topics of a general binational nature. The FUSEEC
Executive Director will be in touch with all grantees during the summer
months about the dates, schedule, location, and other arrangements for
Return to the top of Part One
Return to the Table of Contents
PART TWO: PRACTICAL CONCERNS BEFORE YOUR DEPARTURE
I. OBTAINING PASSPORTS AND VISAS
If you do not already have a valid U.S. passport, obtain one from the
nearest Federal Passport Office or its local agent. A copy of your birth
certificate and two photographs are needed for the passport application.
When purchasing photos, get a few extra small passport-size photos of
yourself and each family member accompanying you. These will be useful
when obtaining various identification and discount cards after your
All grantees must secure a visa and residence permit before leaving the
U.S. for Finland. Visas may be obtained from the Finnish Embassy in
Washington or Finnish Consulates in New York or Los Angeles. Finnish
policy at present is to issue visas only for 3 months, regardless of
whether the grantee will be staying longer. One then obtains a visa
extension in Finland.
Allow Enough Time! Visa processing in the U.S. often takes 6-8 weeks.
Allow a minimum of two months for your visa to be processed! Visa
extensions in Finland are initiated through the main police station in
your community of residence, which will forward your passport and
application to the Ministry of the Interior. Processing often takes 4-6
weeks; during this period you will not have your passport and will be
unable to travel abroad. Grantees should initiate visa extensions soon
after arrival. Contact FUSEEC if you need assistance with your
There has sometimes been confusion on visa requirements. Tourists may
travel within Finland up to 3 months without a visa. However, grantees
are not "tourists." If you enter Finland expecting to remain longer than
3 months, you should have the proper visa.
Lecturers do not need a work permit for their teaching
in Finland. When applying for the visa or visa extension, answer the work
permit question on the application form as follows: "Work permit not
needed. Applicant is an American Fulbright grantee who has no taxable
income in Finland." Grantees other than Lecturers who are invited to
teach for remuneration after arrival will usually be assisted with the
appropriate work permit by the host institution.
Grantees should be aware of Finnish Import Duty restrictions, and should
request a free brochure on current regulations from the Finnish Embassy or
Consulate when obtaining your visa. A substantial number of very
informative and useful publications on Finland and Finnish culture are
also available on request from the Finnish Embassy and Consulates.
II. BOOKS AND LUGGAGE
Fulbright grants, with the exception of the Short-Term Research category,
include an allowance for round-trip airfare. In addition to the normal
airline baggage allowance, each grantee receives a minimal additional
allowance for extra checked baggage. In general, the adage about bringing
"more money and less luggage" also applies to Fulbrighters in Finland --
almost everything you need can be acquired locally and will then meet
local customs and standards.
However, there are exceptions, particularly books and bulky items such
as extra winter clothing which may exceed your airline baggage capacity.
We recommend that these items be mailed by insured parcel post about a
month before your departure directly to yourself in care of the housing
address supplied by your host department, FUSEEC, or the Ministry of
Grantees may temporarily use the FUSEEC address until you know your local
address. Do not mail packages in your name to your host university unless
you have specifically arranged for this. The mail room may not know of
your impending arrival, and may well have returned it ("addressee
unknown") to the U.S. before you arrive.
Do not send items ahead by ocean or air freight, or even railway
freight from within Europe (if you travel in Europe before arrival in
Finland). All freight shipments will incur customs clearance and handling
fees, and if they wait longer than 48 hours in the local terminal, also
incur substantial daily storage charges. FUSEEC is not responsible for
customs or freight charges!
Parcel Post and Mail Sacks.
Parcel post is usually delivered to the neighborhood post office or, if
retained for customs inspection, stored by the main post office for a
month without charge. Allow six weeks for surface mail. If you are
bringing large quantities of books, the cheapest option is the "Direct
Mail Sack" rate, details of which are in International Mail Publication
#42, sections 224.9 and 224.13, at your U.S. post office. For this
rate, several small boxes of books or printed matter, each wrapped and
labelled, can be combined in a large canvas mail sack ("M-sack" in postal
lingo) which is shipped to Finland. Mail Sacks are only for printed
matter. However, Direct Mail Sacks cannot be insured. Parcel post can be
insured. Keep all postal and insurance receipts in the event of claims, or
for possible U.S. tax deductions.
Air courier services such as Federal Express, United Parcel
International, and DHL could be used for small packages. They handle
customs clearance and possible duty payment, and deliver directly to your
door (the bill comes later!). While convenient for urgent shipments, they
are also expensive, and seldom practical for personal effects.
III. COMPUTER EQUIPMENT
Grantees are increasingly bringing personal computers to use in Finland.
If you bring a computer, you should prepare for several differences
between U.S. and European standards.
Finland uses the standard European 220-volt/50-watt electrical current in
place of the U.S. 110/60. Your entire computer system will have to be
compatible with 220/50 in order to operate properly. If you have a
standard desktop configuration of CPU, monitor, and printer, the CPU will
often be manually switchable between 110/220, or else have an auto-sensing
power supply. However, very few monitors or standard printers are
switchable. If your monitor is integrated into the CPU (as with many Macs
or portables), it will switch automatically.
For manually-switchable CPUs, all you would have to do on arrival is to
toggle the switch, obtain a European-standard grounded electric cable from
your host institution or a local computer dealer, and you are in business.
Some grantees have made such cables themselves by bringing along a U.S.
female socket, purchasing a European grounded male plug and length of
wire, and assembling a short converter cable. Be aware that while such
home-crafted cabling is common, it is technically illegal in Finland
unless you are a licensed electrician.
You will need to plug into a grounded electrical socket. Unlike in most
American homes, not all Finnish electrical sockets are grounded. Finnish
grounded sockets are normally only found in certain locations in the home
(kitchen, toilets, sauna). A special grounded plug fits into this
grounded socket. Your equipment may work from an ungrounded socket, but
doing so will violate the manufacturer's operating specifications and put
you in risk of electrical shock!
If your CPU is not switchable, you could purchase a switchable
replacement power supply from one of the mail order electronics firms
listed, for example, in PC or BYTE magazines; these usually run $50 to $80
depending on the wattage, and may require professional installation.
Or, you could purchase an electrical transformer in Finland. This may
cost about $300 if new, and will be heavy (ca 50 lbs) but would allow you
to run everything on U.S. electrical setups. In this case you should also
bring along a multi-socket surge protector to connect all your equipment
to the single transformer outlet. Before purchasing a new transformer,
check with the American Embassy if there are secondhand units available
for loan or purchase.
Instead of the cost and inconvenience of shipping and converting your
desktop system, a different option would be to bring a laptop computer in
its place. The laptop can be hand-carried, easily adjusts to different
electrical currents, and may allow you to quietly computerize your notes
in Finnish libraries instead of paying for photocopies. One could either
bring a portable power-switchable or battery-operated printer to accompany
the laptop, or else plug into your host department's printers.
Modems and Telecommunications.
If you are accustomed to using electronic mail and are planning to bring a
modem, be sure it functions with international phone standards. North
America uses the Bell standard. Europe uses the international CCITT
standard. To be CCITT compatible, your modem should meet the CCITT V.21
standard for 300 bps, V.22 for 1200 bps, and V.22 bis for 2400 bps. Check
your modem manual, or from the manufacturer before purchase, to be certain
if your unit will work in Finland.
Another consideration is the connection between your modem and the
telephone socket. Most European telephones, unlike American phones, are
not modular. Most Finnish phones are direct-wired, and use a 3-prong jack
in place of RJ snaps. Thus you may wish to bring an inexpensive modular
touch-tone telephone and extra handset and base unit cables (from e.g.
Sears or Radio Shack). In Finland, you can then buy a 3-prong European
telephone adapter, connect this to one end of your RJ-11 base unit cable,
and soon be up and running. The phone itself will work normally. Modems
and computer supplies are available in Finland, but all carry higher
prices than in the U.S.
All Finnish universities are connected to the Bitnet/EARN (CREN) network,
and have multiple Internet links. Lecturers and Researchers are often able
to obtain UserIDs through their host institution. It may be possible for
Graduate Students to obtain a UserID, if your project so warrants and your
host institution is accommodating.
Packet-switching services are available if you wish to direct-access
U.S. electronic services, or use commercial links such as CompuServe or
MCI Mail. One first must obtain a NUI (Network User Identifier) in
Finland. For Datapak information, contact Mr. Tauno Stjernberg, PTT,
FINTELCOM, Box 526, 00100 Helsinki (tel. 358-0-7042373, fax -7042659).
Unless you are well familiar with installing and adapting computer
equipment, it is best not to be too adventurous. Even the most
experienced computer users usually have start-up delays. Both hardware
and software should be modified on arrival to accommodate larger European
A-4 paper sizes, and acceptability of Scandinavian characters (ä,
ö å, etcetera).
Standard Hardware and Software.
Finnish universities have both Apple Macintosh and a variety of
IBM-compatible micros. WordPerfect dominates word-processing software,
with Microsoft Word also common. ProComm and Kermit are the principal
communications packages, and Paradox, Reflex, and the various incarnations
of DBase the most common database software. Lotus, Quattro, and Excel
prevail among spreadsheets. Finland is highly-computerized, and most
local hardware and software will be familiar to American computer users.
IV. FINNISH VIDEOTAPE STANDARDS
Fulbright lecturers are increasingly accustomed to using videotaped aids
for their lectures and presentations. While both the U.S. and Europe use
the VHS format, the standards are different. American VHS tapes will not
work on a Finnish VHS set and vice/versa. While there are VHS units that
are switchable between the NTSC and PAL/SECAM formats, they are scarce and
very expensive. Tapes cannot be converted from one format to the other
without professional equipment. Sony "Beta" systems are not common in
On the other hand, commercial-standard U-Matic tapes will work if your
university has a U-Matic VCR that is switchable between NTSC, PAL, and
SECAM. However, one should not assume that standards will be the same
with any computer, video, or videodisk application you may wish to bring.
Naturally, the reverse applies for videotapes you might consider making
with your host institution's equipment to take back to the States.
V. U.S. TAXES AND INSURANCE
Fulbright scholars often fall into unfortunate cracks in the U.S. tax code
with respect to grant monies and deductions for residence abroad. Check
with your local IRS office well before your departure about all
particulars relevant to Fulbright grants. Lecturers and Researchers
should be certain to keep receipts for any expenses that can be
tax-deductible, including postage, travel, hotels, restaurants, and
equipment modifications. Graduate Students are usually less able to
recover these expenses, as current U.S. tax law only accepts such
deductions if they exceed 3% of one's gross adjusted annual income.
Also check with your insurance company to determine whether your
Homeowners Policy will cover losses from damage or theft while abroad. If
it does not, personal property insurance can be purchased easily and
relatively inexpensively locally. However, it is best to determine before
leaving whether this is necessary.
VI. FINNISH TAXATION AND PAYMENTS
Please remember that grantees are not allowed to receive honoraria or
other salary for teaching done as part of their Fulbright projects! One
may be reimbursed the cost of travel and per diem for guest lectures at
other institutions, but all teaching which is a part of your grant project
is covered by your Fulbright "maintenance allowance," which is tax-exempt
in Finland. Travel and per diem reimbursements are not taxable income.
The Tax Book.
If grantees do receive Finnish payments for activities outside their grant
project, a Finnish "tax book" should be obtained after arrival. This is
obtained from the local tax authorities in your community of residence.
Any payment you get directly from Finnish sources is taxable in Finland.
As a visiting scholar you may be exempt from most such taxes, providing
your proper status is registered in your personal tax book, which all
people receiving income (not "maintenance allowances") in Finland must
Be certain that someone from your host university who speaks Finnish
fluently and understands the situation accompanies you to your local tax
office if you obtain this tax book. While Finnish tax law in theory is
applied equally throughout the country, in practice local tax boards may
vary in how they interpret the law toward visiting scholars. Your host
institution's International Coordinator will have experience with local
authorities, and be able to assist you.
The following extract from Publication #449 of the Finnish
National Board of Taxes, which may be obtained from local tax offices, may
If persons residing abroad are in Finland for a maximum of six months,
they are obliged to pay tax in Finland on income earned in Finland. They
must obtain a tax at source card [colloquially known as the "tax book"]
from the tax office of the municipality in which they live. On the basis
of this card, the employer deducts 35% in withholding tax. This tax at
source is the final tax, and income subject to tax at source need not be
declared in Finland. Employees receive a certificate of taxation at source
from their employer, and they must append it to their tax form in their
If the period of residence exceeds six months, [foreigners] are taxed
as if they were resident in Finland, and are obliged to pay tax in Finland
on both income earned in Finland and elsewhere and on assets both in
Finland and elsewhere. The tax on income includes municipal taxation
(14-19%), national pension and sickness insurance premiums (3.25%), church
tax (1-2%, if members of the Evangelical Lutheran or Orthodox churches),
and state tax based on the amount of income.
Finland has concluded tax treaties with a number of countries in order
to prevent double taxation. On the basis of some of these treaties,
teachers or researchers residing temporarily in Finland may obtain relief
from Finnish taxation. Likewise, students and trainees may be entitled to
partial relief if they visit Finland in order to obtain practical
experience related to study. Reductions are indicated on the tax at
source card or on the tax card. Persons requesting relief must prove to
the tax authorities that certain requirements are fulfilled, e.g. the
services are in connection with their studies.
Payment By Bank Transfer.
Finnish payments are very seldom made in cash, but rather as a direct
transfer to your bank account, either at the beginning or middle of the
following month. In order for salaries or fees to be paid, the payer must
have a copy of the payee's tax book, according to which the prescribed
taxation will be withheld (or not, if you are exempt). More detail on
this will be covered in your Finnish orientations. Be sure you
VII. USING YOUR OWN AUTOMOBILE
Some past grantees have brought cars, or purchased a new car for
subsequent import to the U.S. Others have leased automobiles. This may
enable one to choose from a greater variety of housing, since one is less
dependent on public transportation. However, there are several expenses
of which you should be aware if you are thinking of using your own car.
Foreigners are permitted to bring automobiles into Finland free of any
import duties or taxes for a period of one year (extendable to two years).
Moreover, Americans are permitted to purchase cars in most European
countries free of any local purchase taxes or duties for a period of one
year. When the automobile is taken back to the United States, the import
duties and taxes are levied on the basis of its current age and mileage.
The Finnish law states that "if the vehicle has not been re-exported
within the period of one year from the date of importation, the import
duties and taxes will unconditionally fall due." These are very high;
they may total well over 100% of the original purchase price of the
automobile! Please note that Finnish authorities are very particular on
this point, and even one hour over "one year" may incur the unfortunate
grantee an astronomical debt.
Garages are sometimes available for approximately 1000 marks per month.
People usually keep their cars on the street. Theft and vandalism are not
major problems in Finland. During the winter months the streets in the
city and the roads to the country are kept open and cleared of snow.
Winter tires on all four wheels are mandatory from December 1 to March 1.
Gasoline is more than double the U.S. cost. Third-party insurance is
compulsory. Maintenance costs are high. All of these factors combine to
make the operation of an automobile considerably more expensive than what
is typical in the U.S.
VIII. FINNISH SCHOOLS AND DAY CARE
Grantees with school-age children may place them in local Finnish public
schools, or in private English or other foreign language schools. Most
university cities have both Finnish and Swedish public schools, with the
standard curriculum taught in one or the other of the two main national
languages. Tutoring in English may be available through the school's
teachers; children tend to pick up functional Finnish or Swedish
Finnish public schools are of uniformly high quality; there is strict
discipline in most schools, and rigorous homework assignments. Unlike
American schools, there is relatively little extracurricular activity, and
one's free-time activities are often quite separate from those during the
There are also English Kindergartens, for children between 4-7, in
Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Joensuu, Lappeenranta, and Jyväskylä. Some
Finnish nursery schools also accept foreign children. Note that both
nursery and elementary schools may be only half-days. Therefore school is
not necessarily a substitute for day-care if both parents are working.
Day-care for children less than 1 year old is difficult to find, as
Finnish materity and paternity-leave normally allows one of the parents to
be at home during the infant's first year.
IX. ENGLISH SCHOOLS AND CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOLS
The International School (Hattulantie 2, 00550 Helsinki) provides
"Anglo-American" instruction for children between five and fifteen (grades
K-10). Instruction in Finnish language, history and culture is also
offered. About one-fifth of the nearly 100 pupils are American, with the
teachers American, British, and Finnish. Pupils are mainly children of
the diplomatic community, Korean, Japanese, and Turkish as well as
American, British, and Finnish. Tuition is currently about $11,500 per
child per year. The 1990 school year begins August 13.
An English School (Mäntytie 14, 00270 Helsinki) provides
elementary and junior high school instruction through the 10th grade. It
is staffed by an American order of Roman Catholic nuns. It follows a
Finnish curriculum, but most classes are in English and use American
textbooks. The student body is 90% Finnish, and some instruction in the
lower grades is in Finnish. Three places in each class are reserved for
foreign students; it is advisable to register as soon as possible by
writing directly to the school. Tuition is about half that of the
Some grantees have registered their children in correspondence courses
and supervised the studies themselves. Free brochures on high school
courses are available from the University of Nebraska, Division of
Continuing Studies, Lincoln, Nebraska 68583-0900; phone (402) 472-1926. A
full range of accredited courses is available at ca. $50 per semester,
with books and supplies ca. $40 per course, and science supplies $40-100
per course. For grades 1-8, the Calvert School, Tuscany Road, Baltimore,
Maryland 21210; phone (301) 246-6030, has long enjoyed a high reputation
in correspondence education. Free brochures are also available.
PART THREE: PREPARATIONS FOR YOUR FULBRIGHT PROJECT
I. CONTACT WITH YOUR HOST INSTITUTION
Lecturers and Research Scholars.
Advance contact with your host institution and department in Finland is
essential in order for you to properly prepare for your Fulbright
experience. Normally, your host department will have received your papers
some six months prior to your arrival. By May at the latest, grantees
arriving in September should be in contact with their host professor
and/or other persons at the host institution. Usually the host
institution will initiate the contact. If you have not heard from the
host institution by May, contact FUSEEC for assistance.
Your initial concerns will include the number and type of courses you
will be teaching, or type of research project in which you will be
involved, and what is expected from both parties in preparation for these.
Other important considerations include special types of housing you may
require, particular types of equipment or scholarly resources required for
the project, or perhaps special concerns related to family members who may
Graduate students pursuing a particular course of study would normally
have begun communication with the appropriate institutions and individuals
prior to application for the Fulbright grant. By now, you should have
identified scholars in your field of interest who are willing to assist
you. These contact scholars are your best source of information on
specialized preparation for your grant period (anything from materials you
should bring along to reading or research which should be accomplished
Procedure for independent graduate researchers without a regular or formal
interaction with a university may be less straightforward. However, if
your topic can be successfully researched in Finland, there is a Finnish
specialist somewhere in the academic or professional community with a
present or past interest in it. Some initial contact with such
specialists is highly desirable, as it is difficult for anyone, especially
foreigners, to negotiate the university system without a patron.
Additionally, local scholars can often suggest little-known research
sources which otherwise might never be discovered.
II. DIFFERENCES IN U.S. AND FINNISH ACADEMIC STRUCTURE
The Finnish academic structure differs remarkably from that in America.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the format of course offerings and
the expectations that students and teachers have of each other. Most
Fulbright Lecturers will be expected to offer two lecture series per term,
and perhaps also be involved in seminar leadership. This may not be
unlike an American teaching load. There the similarities stop.
Term and Class Schedules.
The Finnish university term is 14 weeks. The fall term runs from early
September to mid-December, with at least a month's vacation at Christmas.
The Spring term is mid-January through May. Most 14-week lecture courses
will meet one time per week, for a period of two hours. The Finnish
"academic hour," unless differently agreed, runs from a quarter past the
hour for 45 minutes, e.g. from 10:15 to 11:00 (if you appear on the hour
to lecture, you will find an empty room). A two-hour lecture is 2 times
45 minutes. A two-hour lecture starting at "10 o'clock," for example,
would meet from 10:15 to 11:45 [which students prefer] unless you take a
15-minute break between the two "hours" and end at 12:00 sharp. A typical
lecture course consists of 28 contact hours, 2 x weekly x 14 weeks.
Lectures or Books.
Most lecture courses in Finland may also be passed by "equivalent" book
readings. Students attending lecture course usually expect 28 hours of
lecture based on hard facts. They do not expect assigned outside readings
[with the grudging exception of literature courses, but even there they'd
prefer you to tell them what Faulkner is about rather than having to read
it themselves]. Seminars, of course, are structured differently.
This is obviously at odds with how many American academics are used to
doing things, although naturally there are differences between teacher
personalities, individual student groups, and other variables which always
affect each class.
"Study Week" Credits.
It is essential to be aware of the
Finnish reasoning. Credits in Finnish universities are awarded as "study
weeks" (opintoviikko, or ov), which equal roughly 40 hours
of "work" by the student. Lecture courses are often worth one or two
study week credits. Finnish students usually expect a lecture course to be
equal to one book they would otherwise have to read. A two-credit course
might be equal to two books, or one long and two short books.
Students in Finland, as in the U.S., are sometimes more concerned with
the rapid accumulation of credits than with a pure pursuit of knowledge.
Lecturer grantees who assume that students are eager to explore outside
readings in addition to the lecture material, and assign these as they
would in an American university course, may soon find their Finnish
III. WHAT TO BRING AND HOW TO PLAN
Lecturers should consider carefully what amounts and types of materials to
bring for their own and their students' use. This will depend in part on
how much credit will be awarded for your courses in your host department,
the types of courses you will offer, and the way in which your students
are used to studying. Your only source of information on this is your
host department. Be certain you are well-informed on this before you
depart for Finland!
We emphasize that the relationship between lectures and reading is very
different from the U.S. The brevity of contact time and fact-oriented
attitudes of most students are often important in adapting an American
lecture style to the Finnish environment. Most American lecturers are
used to nearly twice the contact time per course, in addition to which
there would be assigned readings. "Lectures" in America are often
lightened and illustrated with anecdotes and stories. Adapting a 45-hour
U.S. course with assigned readings to a 28-hour Finnish course without
readings requires a careful focussing on one's lecture subject within the
Finnish students do have a sense of humor, and usually appreciate a
good joke, but in the back of their minds is that one or two jokes may be
okay, but three or more, not to mention professorial classroom bantering
with the students, is a waste of everyone's time and probably a
consequence of the professor's lack of organization or preparation for the
This is not to say that you may not be able to assign relevant readings
or illustrate your lectures with anecdotes. You might indeed be able to
hold genuine and personal student-teacher discussions on your material
very successfully. Some of the most successful past grantees have done
precisely this. It is to say, however, that such a style is an exception
to standard Finnish practice, and you would have to prepare your students
for the exception rather carefully in order to have the experience be
successful. They will not be expecting it as the norm.
B. Researchers (Independent and Graduate Student).
The preparation of the researcher and that of the research to be conducted
will dictate the materials necessary to pursue the project successfully.
University library holdings are comprehensive in most of the European
language groups. For convenience or regular reference you may wish to
bring some of your own key periodical and text copies. Do not expect to
purchase quantities of scholarly materials in Finland, however, as they
can be extraordinarily expensive. Any reference data which can be entered
on a laptop or other computer will lighten your paper load and copy costs.
All consumable supplies (paper, pens, etc.) are available inexpensively
through the university.
C. Graduate Student Course Work.
University courses in Finland are largely self-contained; book purchase is
seldom a feature of Finnish courses, at least on the scale which dominates
American practice. The range of English texts available as optional
readings may be limited if normal texts for the course are in another
language. However, anything required for course work in Finland will also
be available, though it may be convenient to bring a few general works in
your field, and bibliographic guides can always be used. It may prove
useful to contact faculty members in advance about supplementary readings
which might be brought with you from the U.S. When doing so, though, bear
in mind that Finnish staff are often away from the university during the
summer period; this may slow communications considerably.
IV. SPECIAL CONCERNS OF GRANTEES
A. Lecturers: The Fulbrighter As "General American."
Fulbrighters abroad are often thought to represent American life in
general, and may be asked to comment or even lecture on a wide range of
topics within the American experience, including some far afield from
grantees' areas of academic expertise. Accepting invitations to speak on
such topics requires discretion. But with the likelihood in mind, it may
be worthwhile in the months before your departure to pay more attention
than usual to general "Americana" in newspapers and periodicals.
It is also common for grantees to be asked to talk about their home
university or community. On such occasions it helps to have copies of
catalogs and brochures. Have your admissions office mail you packets of
their promotional materials. Also, consider bringing photos, tourist
brochures, and postcards from your hometown and surrounding area.
B. Graduate Students and Researchers: Program Autonomy.
The relationship of Fulbright research scholars and graduate students to
their host institution has often been termed "casual" by prior grantees.
Such a description reflects structural differences from an American
perspective. It is a fact that students' relationship to their university
in Europe is less regulated than in the United States. There are no
structured "graduate schools" at Finnish universities as in American
universities. Students pursuing the licentiate or doctoral degrees largely
work on their own, with only occasional consultation with their
supervisory Professor and participation in irregular seminars. Except for
grantees who know Finnish or Swedish, and are thus able to take advantage
of lectures, most Fulbright research scholars and graduate students must
expect to work independently, using libraries, archives, and museums,
visiting industries and forest camps, interviewing English-speaking
Finnish experts, or other endeavors as your project requires.
Finnish professors have often been generous in advising and guiding
American students in their projects. Every grantee planning to engage in
research work must, however, be prepared to adjust his plans to the local
resources and conditions. One's own initiative is the most important
element in one's study program.
Instruction Is In Finnish! It is essential to remember that
most courses are taught only in Finnish, except in foreign language
departments, where most of the instruction would be in that language. If
you are not fluent in Finnish, it will be difficult to learn enough to be
able to participate in regular courses during a one-year stay. You may
find some courses in English, and it may be possible to arrange English
readings as the equivalent of Finnish lectures. Papers and exams may
usually be written in English. But arranging this will always involve
extra work on your behalf by your professor. This is not a part of
regular professorial duties. Nor are professors paid extra for such
assistance. The more self- directed you are, the more successful you will
Again, well in advance you should write the professor in your host
institution to outline what you would like to do, what you "expect" to be
available as resources, what you feel you are able to do on your own, and
then inquire whether there is a good probability you can have a successful
experience in Finland. This is particularly the case if you do not speak
Finnish. If you do not know to whom to write, contact the FUSEEC staff or
the Foreign Student Advisor or International Coordinator at your host
institution for advice.
V. INTENSIVE FINNISH LANGUAGE COURSES
Intensive Finnish language courses for foreign students are taught by
several Finnish universities during the regular academic year. Details on
these, as well as information on pre-departure Finnish courses available
in the United States, may found in the section starting on page 35 of
An Introduction to Higher Education in Finland, which you have
received from FUSEEC. Host-institution course schedules for 1990-1991 may
be obtained from your host institution's Foreign Student Advisor.
Intensive Finnish instruction is also available in Finland as a part of
"Summer University" programs in many cities. However, your Fulbright
grant does not cover housing or maintenance for early arrival to attend
PART FOUR: THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN FINLAND
I. SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY CALENDARS
The public school year is mid-August to the end of May, with 190 days
attendance over a 5-day week, and a 4-7 hour school day. If you plan on
placing children in Finnish schools, you should arrive in Finland before
mid-August so your children do not miss the two first weeks of school.
The school year has two terms with a two-week holiday at Christmas. There
is also a holiday week at Easter, and another in February/March for winter
The university calendar starts in early September, with the first term
completed in mid-December. The second term begins in mid-January and ends
in May. Generally there are two 14-week terms, with the only "in-term"
vacation a week at Easter. There are no regular university summer
sessions, although instruction is offered during the summer months by
"Summer Universities," which are administered separately from regular
II. ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Free compulsory education is provided for children between 7 and 16.
Kindergarten is not part of the school system proper, rather there are
neighborhood day-care kindergartens, mostly financed by the municipalities
for 1 to 6-year-olds. The comprehensive school (peruskoulu)
curriculum is divided into a lower stage of 6 years with instruction by
class teachers, and an upper stage of 3 years with instruction by subject
teachers. Upon completing the comprehensive school a student may go
directly to work, to a vocational school (ammattikoulu), technical
school (teknillinen koulu), business or office school
(kauppakoulu), or one of several other specialized schools.
Most pupils wishing to apply to a university will attend a senior
secondary school (lukio). This provides an intensive college
preparatory course between the ages of 16-19, culminating in a national
student matriculation examination consisting of four compulsory and two
optional six-hour exams. The actual failure rate on these exams is low,
but as competition among a large number of applicants for relatively few
university places is intense, students are under considerable pressure to
score highly in order to gain university admission.
Upon passing the exams, the student is eligible to wear the coveted
white "student hat," awarded at a ceremony in late May. According to
tradition this hat is worn on the 1st of May (Vappu, the "festival
of students and workers," a student holiday of major proportion) or other
special occasions, such as the Independence Day student march to the
Senate Square in Helsinki.
Lukio students pursue a rigorous course of study, the equivalent
of the American lower-division undergraduate curriculum. Upon entering
university, the new Finnish student is both by age and scholastic
achievement roughly equal to a third-year student in America.
III. UNIVERSITY EDUCATION
There are 20 university-level institutions. These are Helsinki
University, Turku University, Åbo Akademi University (the Swedish
university of Turku/Åbo), Oulu University, Kuopio University, Tampere
University, Vaasa University, Helsinki University of Technology,
Lappeenranta University of Technology, Tampere University of Technology,
the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration, Swedish
School of Economics and Business Administration, Turku School of Economics
and Business Administration, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of
Industrial Arts, University of Jyväskylä, University of Joensuu,
University of Lapland, Theater Academy, and the Sibelius Academy. Further
information on the curricula and admissions requirements of each of these
universities may be found in Higher Education in Finland: Guide For
Foreign Students (1989-1990).
Overall, there are some 102,000 students (including 1200 foreign
students in 1988) in higher education, the highest proportion in the
Nordic countries. Of these 55% study the humanities, social sciences,
education, economics, law and theology, 19% study mathematics and science,
16% technology, and 7% medicine.
Higher education is valued throughout the country, and degree holders
are generally highly respected. Admission is difficult (only 10% of each
senior secondary graduation cohort will gain admission to a university),
and the courses of study rigorous. On the other hand, there is no tuition
charge, and students are eligible for government-subsidized study loans
and some grants. Due to the structure of the Finnish university system,
students are relatively free to determine the rate and progress of their
courses of study. Many courses may be passed by readings and examinations
on set books in lieu of attendance at lectures. Moreover, both course and
departmental examinations may be retaken until the student succeeds.
"Undergraduate" enrollment is generally limited to 10 years.
IV. UNIVERSITY DEGREE REQUIREMENTS
The basic Finnish university degree is currently the Masters degree.
There is no formal lower, or intermediate degree, although a "certificate"
corresponding to the American B.A. can be obtained at many universities.
A student applies to a university and takes admission tests in June or
July prior to the academic year. On the basis of these, plus scores from
the student exam, the student is admitted directly into a faculty for
A total of 160 "study weeks" of credit (opintoviikot) is
required for the Master's degree, divided into required and optional
courses in General Studies (Yleisopinnot), Subject Studies
(Aineopinnot, courses in the student's major field), and Advanced
Specialized Studies (Syventävät opinnot) which is largely
independent research and the writing of a Master's thesis.
Beyond the Masters one can study for the Licentiate degree
(lisensiaatti), a sort of junior doctorate, and upon defense of a
dissertation the Licentiate holder may be awarded a Doctorate
(tohtori). Studies toward the licentiate or doctorate are mostly
of an independent nature; there are few organized doctoral programs
resembling those in American academia.
The study system is based on lectures. Students have the choice of
attending lectures and passing an exam on these, or taking an exam on set
books which are considered the equivalent of the lectures. Degrees in the
sciences will include laboratory and other practical work which cannot be
compensated for by books or lectures.
Generally there is not much reading in conjunction with lectures, nor
are discussion seminars especially successful except at advanced levels.
Student questioning of teachers, and vice-versa, is comparatively rare.
Contact between students and teachers outside the classroom is also not
customary, although teaching staff have required weekly consultation
hours. In some departments, the situation may be quite different, with
close personal contact among teachers and students. But this is still the
exception rather than the rule.
V. ACADEMIC CREDITS AND STUDY PROGRAM STRUCTURES
Academic credits in Finnish universities are based on the idea of "study
weeks" (opintoviikot). A study week is calculated as 40 hours of
work, and may be awarded for one "book exam" or 40 hours of lectures or
in-class work. Note that credit is usually given for lecture courses or
examined readings, and the combination of lectures and readings remains
The courses offered by the different departments vary greatly in the
amount of credit offered. Some lectures or practicals may be as brief as
one study week, whereas advanced thesis or seminar work may award 20 study
weeks. As a rule of thumb, roughly 2 study week credits is considered the
equivalent of an American "3-hour (semester) course."
There are a number of Master's degree equivalents in different
disciplines. These are usually abbreviated to two or three letters, for
example FK, HK, KK, KTK, VTK and YK. "FK" is short for "filosofian
kandidaatti," or "Master of Arts" [e.g. in the Humanities]. "YK" is
"yhteiskuntatieteiden kandidaatti," or "Master of Social Sciences."
The Master's degree usually comprises 160 study weeks. Although
programs may vary from one university, faculty, or department to another,
the following is typical for Humanities students. First, there are the
faculty's own General Studies, with compulsory courses ranging from 9-30
study weeks. These are usually courses in the philosophy of science, man
in relation to nature and society, the development of western culture, and
so on. There are also optional General Studies courses. The student must
also demonstrate written and oral competency in several languages. Swedish
is compulsory because it is the second national language. The University
Language Centers, which teach a variety of foreign languages, conduct most
of the language instruction for students who are not language majors.
The remaining stages of the FK curriculum are (Major) Subject and
Advanced Specialized Studies. Subject Studies includes about 80 study
weeks of required and elective courses from the student's major subject.
The student must also choose a first (and often a second) subsidiary
subject. There is relatively great freedom in the choice of subsidiary
subjects from departments in one's own or another faculty. After Subject
Studies, the student moves to Advanced Specialized courses, about 30 study
weeks, of which 16-20 study weeks are awarded for the production of a
thesis in the major subject. This thesis is called the "pro
gradu." It is graded by a professor and an assistant professor in the
VI. COURSE, DEPARTMENT, AND FACULTY EXAMINATIONS
Both faculties and departments have set exam dates, listed in university
and faculty catalogs, which determine when students can take exams. In
order to take a faculty exam the student must fill in an examination
envelope with his name, address, Finnish social security number (or
birthday, for those not having Finnish SSN's) and other details as well as
the books read for the exam. This envelope must be submitted 7-10 days
before the exam. On arrival at the examination site, the student gets
this envelope back with questions inside it. On leaving the exam, one's
identity must be proved. The procedure may vary in different
Exams are also held at the end of lecture series for students who have
attended the lectures. These do not require preregistration. Some courses
do not have exams at all, but only a certain number of completed exercises
and often regular or compulsory attendance.
Typically, examination results are posted on faculty and department
bulletin boards after they have been graded. Some courses are graded from
1 to 3 (3 being highest) and some are just pass/fail. The grades are
entered by the office staff into the university computers, in which each
student is recorded by name and social security number. In addition to
the computer register, students in most universities (but not Åbo
Akademi) have personal study books, in which the instructor marks the
course or examination grade and verifies it with a signature.
If a student fails an examination or is otherwise not satisfied with
his grade, the student usually has the right to retake the exam an
unlimited number of times on dates set by the examiner.
VII. ACADEMIC STAFF STRUCTURE
The staff structure of Finnish university departments differs considerably
from that of American universities. At the top of each regular department
are one or more "full professors," who wield considerable influence within
the department and the university. Subordinate to these may be several
"associate professors," who may be influential by force of their
personality or particular field of study, but who are clearly secondary to
the full professors in the academic pecking order. Professors are
officially appointed by the President of Finland after a nomination
process at the university level. Associate Professors are appointed,
after the nomination process, by the University Chancellor. In those
universities not having a Chancellor, appointments are made by the
Minister of Education. Appointment is for lifetime tenure.
Many departments have "Docents," scholars of PhD level. Docentships
provide a way for departments to offer occasional specialized courses. A
department's reputation may be enhanced by appointing as a Docent an
outstanding scholar who is tenured by another institution.
Most departments also have "assistants" of various grades who are
non-tenured, appointed for 3 or 5-year periods which may sometimes be
renewed. Most assistantships are intended as research slots to help
junior scholars complete a licentiate or doctoral degree. Depending on the
individual, department, and length of service, however, they may range
from "general factotum" to the equivalent of a non-tenured Assistant
The bulk of the foundation teaching in Humanities departments is done
by Lecturers, most of whom hold lifetime tenure. Also associated with
most departments are Instructors ("hourly teachers," or
"tuntiopettajat"). The designation refers mainly to payment
procedure and tenure status. "Instructors" are usually paid by the hour
("tunti"), and do not have tenure. Their teaching may be one or a
series of lectures, or several courses each term. There are also
"Full-time Instructors" ("päätoiminen...") who receive a
monthly salary, have semi-permanent tenure, and a teaching load equivalent
to that of a Lecturer.
Advanced scholars may also be employed to teach on a
"tuntiopetus" (or "periodic") basis. Many courses offered by
Fulbrighters in universities other than their host institution are
arranged through "tuntiopetus" money as the only means of financing
one-time instruction. There is nothing prestigious lecturers in a
department may be "Instructors" if their courses are special in length or
PART FIVE: LIVING IN FINLAND
Grantees to Finland will have a new and enlightening cultural experience.
Some aspects of Finnish life are quite different from those in America,
despite Finland's western culture and values. The language is different
from most Indo-European tongues, and there are different social customs
and values, a different university system, an economy with a high cost of
living, and a longer and darker (but not necessarily colder) winter than
in most of the U.S. Appended is the U.S. Department of State's
Background Notes: Finland, which includes a bibliography.
I. HEALTH AND MEDICAL CARE
Finland has a very high standard of public health and cleanliness, with
very few endemic or widespread diseases. Tap water is clean and drinkable
throughout the country. Local fruits, vegetables, and fish, whether
purchased from shops or outdoor marketplaces, will be clean and of high
quality, though it is always best to rinse fruits and vegetables before
eating. Finland has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world, and
schoolchildren get free medical and dental care.
General Medical Care.
General medical care is available either free of charge or at very low
rates at public health clinics throughout the country, though on weekend
nights or during flu epidemics there may be delays in receiving attention.
One may also make an appointment with a private doctor or specialist, who
will charge a standard professional fee. Finnish taxpayers can receive a
portion of these fees back from their national health insurance. Visiting
scholars cannot (as you are not Finnish taxpayers), but medical receipts
can be kept as a U.S. tax deduction or insurance claim. The quality of
medical care is high, and even private specialist fees, for both
physicians and dentists, are lower than those in the United States.
Emergencies are treated in outpatient polyclinics or by general admission
to public hospitals. Costs for nonvoluntary services are the same for
Finns and foreigners alike.
Emergency outpatient treatment in a public hospital polyclinic is
currently a standard 60 marks; if you must be admitted to the hospital the
charge is currently 85 marks per day all-inclusive, even if they keep you
in intensive care, install a pacemaker, or change a few organs.
Private Hospitals and Physicians.
One may also request a private room and private doctor(s), or enter a
private hospital, in which case you will pay the itemized costs of all
services. Many doctors and nurses in Finland can speak English, and most
private specialists or doctors on the staffs of University Central
Hospitals can speak English fluently.
Student Health Foundations.
Student Health Foundation services are available to student and staff at
very low cost (though students have priority, and staff are seldom able to
make appointments except during the summer and vacation periods). General
medical, dental, and counseling services are all available, as well as
referrals for outpatient laboratory and specialist treatment. Advance
appointments are usually required, with appointments made and billed in
15-minute "blocks" of time. Your host institution personnel can advise
you on the procedures for using local Student Health services, and
locating English-speaking staff with whom you can initiate contact.
Health Foundation staff may not be accustomed to speaking English.
If you require regular medication, consider bringing a full supply with
you, or get a clear description of the generic name of the drug(s) for
re-prescription by a Finnish physician. Be aware that Finland is not as
highly "medicated" a society as the U.S.; medical prescriptions are not
available just for the asking.
Vitamins, Cosmetics, Thermometers.
A full range of vitamins is available in Finnish pharmacies, but you may
find them more expensive than in the U.S. A wide range of high-quality
cosmetics is also available, but the brands and prices may be different
from those with which you are familiar. If you are not used to reading
fever thermometers in Centigrade, you may wish to bring a Fahrenheit
Electricity in Finland follows the continental 220-volt, 50-cycle,
standard with European two-pin plug. Voltage, cycles, and plugs are all
different from those in the U.S. Do not bring U.S. electrical appliances
unless they work on batteries or have switchable adapters and adapter
plugs. Travel-store electrical converters may be suitable for small
appliances such as contact lens cleaners, but are not adequate for larger
appliances or long-term use. Smaller appliances such as irons,
hair-dryers, and coffeemakers can all be purchased locally if needed.
Such appliances are often part of the furnishings of housing provided by
host institutions for lecturers and research scholars, and are
occasionally available to graduate students for the year's loan or
inexpensive rental through the International Office of your host
III. TIPPING AND SERVICE CHARGES
Tipping is not common in Finland. Restaurant service charges are included
in the bill, though one usually must pay cloakroom attendants a 4-5 mark
service charge per coat when leaving outer garments at the door. One is
not expected to tip taxi drivers or hairdressers. Taxis are metered;
receipts are obtained by asking. Many taxis accept bank or VISA cards.
IV. TELEPHONE SERVICE
Direct-dial telephone service is available to all European countries and
North America. Collect and person-to-person calls may be placed via
international operators (who will speak English) by dialling 99022. If
you do not have your own telephone, international calls may be placed, and
paid for against receipt, from the main post offices in all cities, the
telecommunications departments of which are usually open 7 days a week.
AT&T's "USA Direct" is available for collect or credit card calls. MCI
also offers direct service to Finland from the U.S.
Phone Bills in Finland!
If you do have your own telephone, be aware that calls are billed on a
two-month cycle. For example, your phone bill for 01 January through 28
February would arrive in mid-March. Finnish telephone bills are not
itemized, but are billed as cumulative "message units." One cannot
determine from the bill how many calls were made, or when or to where.
Call costs are higher than in the U.S. Be cautious about using your
telephone, especially during the first billing cycle, until you are aware
what your bills are likely to be. An initial bill of FIM 3000.00 or more
has often surprised unsuspecting grantees . . . .
Settle Bills Before Departure!
Arrange with the telephone company to pay all charges up to a set day
before your departure. FUSEEC is not responsible for grantee telephone
bills which surface several months after you have left. Grantees will be
accountable for all such bills, plus the late-payment penalties which will
Finally, beware of placing international telephone calls from hotels,
which may add surcharges of up to 300%. Depending on the time of year and
Daylight Savings variations, Finland is 7 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern
Standard Time -- 9:00 a.m. in New York is 4:00 p.m. in Finland. Depending
on the U.S. locale, it may be easier to call from Finland than vice-versa.
However, it is always cheaper if they call you. Frequent callers should
arrange set times.
V. MONEY AND BANKING
In March 1990 the exchange rate was about 4.0 Finnish marks to the U.S.
dollar. Money can be exchanged at practically every bank in Finland; each
has a special section labelled "Currency Exchange." You will need to open
a bank account to live efficiently in Finland. The major national
commercial banks are KOP and SYP, (commonly identified by these sets of 3
initials), together with PSP, or Postipankki, the Postal Bank.
All banks have nationwide branch banking, so that no matter which local
branch your account is in, you can deposit or withdraw from any other
branch. Bills can be paid by bank transfers among all the banks. Almost
all branch banks can also arrange for the deposit of funds or payment of
bills in the U.S. by the electronic transfer of dollars to a U.S. account,
or by certified dollar checks on American banks with which they are
Finnish Checking Accounts.
Checking accounts are no longer easily available in Finland, as the banks
are discouraging the use of checks in favor of Bank Cards. Most Finns
purchase goods with cash, credit cards, or a "bank card," and pay bills by
bank transfer. If you choose to pay extra for a checking account, be
aware that the banks guarantee checks up to FIM 500.00, so shops will
always accept these, often not even requesting identification for sums
under 200.00. Therefore, make certain you do not lose your checks, as
they may be cashed reasonably freely! Finnish banks do not return
cancelled checks at the end of the month. If you need a "receipt" of your
payment, use a bank transfer (how to use transfers will be covered in your
The "Bank Card."
The term "Bank Card" (pankkikortti)
in Finland refers to a "bank automat" or "ATM" card, rather than a VISA
or MasterCharge "bank credit card." Bank cards are available from all
banks, and in addition to being useful for check-cashing purposes, can be
used to withdraw money from Automatic Teller Machines or pay for purchases
directly from a shop, with the sum automatically withdrawn from your
There are different "levels" of bank cards. Only the basic level
(which does not have a photo, and cannot be used for identification, but
can be used for ATMs) can be acquired by "non-permanent residents" of
Finland. Regular bank cards require a Finnish social security number. A
non-photo bank "automat" card can be obtained from the bank when you open
"Bank credit cards" such as Visa and MasterCharge are widely accepted
in Finland. American Express, Diner's Club, etc., are mainly accepted by
more expensive places, or by hotels, airlines, and restaurants. Special
dollar accounts can be opened at Finnish banks if you don't want to
convert all your money at once, but nevertheless want it on deposit at the
bank. There is an exchange fee, currently FIM 15.00, for every
dollar-account deposit or transfer.
Traveler's and U.S. Personal Checks.
Traveler's Checks can be bought or converted at most banks, but are not
accepted in most stores. Personal U.S. bank checks are not accepted in
stores, and may involve a lengthy bank clearing procedure unless you are a
regular customer. There is a FIM 30.00 service charge per check to cash
foreign checks, so if you often receive dollar checks, it may be expedient
to mail them to your U.S. bank account, and write one large check to cash
in Finland for current expenses. In general, Finnish banking is efficient,
and the banks will be happy to tell you about their services. Foreigners
may import unlimited amounts of any currency, and repatriate any amounts
of currency which they can prove was brought into the country.
VI. PUBLIC HOLIDAYS AND SHOPPING HOURS
Finland has many more public holidays than the U.S, especially around
Christmas and New Year, where there may be two 3-day holiday sequences.
Sundays and holidays also mean that all shops and stores are closed; there
are no 24-hour stores in Finland as yet. Thus it is wise to check with
colleagues about upcoming holidays so as not to be caught without food.
Most restaurants, however, will be open on Sundays and holidays (except
Christmas eve and Christmas).
University vacation periods, especially around national or local
holidays, will vary between institutions and cities, and week-long winter
sports holidays for schoolchildren (often also taken by university staff)
are staggered regionally. With the exception of fixed dates such as
Christmas, Easter, and Finnish Independence Day (06 December), holiday
calendars will vary from one institution or location to another. Your
host institution can provide a precise schedule.
Shopping hours of most stores are normally 0900-2000 on weekdays and
0900-1800 on Saturday, with smaller shops frequently closing at 1700
weekdays and 1300-1400 Saturdays.
VII. ENGLISH BOOKS, NEWSPAPERS, & PERIODICALS
English books, newspapers, and periodicals are available from bookstores,
kiosks, or by subscription. The International Herald Tribune (news
services of the New York Times and Washington Post in addition to its
own), USA Today, the Wall Street Journal European Edition, and other
papers are sold in most train stations, bookstores and kiosks in
Books are expensive in Finland. Printing limited-run Finnish-language
editions is costly, and all foreign books are taxed upon import. If you
know you will need certain books, either bring them or have them mailed.
Even books that need to be ordered after you arrive will come more quickly
and cheaply if you buy them through a contact in the States.
VIII. LIBRARIES AND STUDY FACILITIES
University and public libraries, the various museum and institute
libraries, and the Library of Parliament, the America Center Library, and
the British Council Library in Helsinki all have good collections of
research materials, and many standard American and British reference
works. The Helsinki University Slavonic Library is one of the best
collections of pre-revolutionary Russian materials outside the Soviet
Union. The Library of Parliament is an excellent resource. There are
good interlibrary loan services among the various collections. All
university libraries provide self-service photocopying, currently about
11 cents › per copy.
Most university cities have well-stocked city libraries in addition to
their university libraries. The city libraries usually contain
English-language books, newspapers, periodicals, records, and videotapes
which are available to you and your dependents. The "Metso" City Library
in Tampere is especially worth mentioning as an outstanding architectural
work, as well as having archive collections of national import.
Some university libraries are "national repositories" for certain fields
and disciplines. The two universities which train librarians and
information scientists, Tampere University (for Finnish-speaking
librarians) and Åbo Akademi University (for Swedish-speaking
librarians) have special repository status. The Tampere University
library is the repository for Mass Communications, Social Sciences,
Folklore, Library and Information Science, and Education. Åbo
Akademi has the only university Women's Studies Library.
The staffs of all university libraries can give you more information on
the "national repository" status for different fields, and also advise you
on how to obtain materials through inter-library loan. In addition to
university and city libraries, there are numerous other collections which
may be invaluable for your research, for example those of the Immigration
Institute in Turku, the WIDER (World Institute For Development Economics
Research) Institute in Helsinki, or the Finnish Broadcasting System (YLE)
library, among others.
Return Your Loans Before Departure!
Remember to return your book-loans to the libraries before your departure
from Finland! FUSEEC is not responsible for the payment of fines or legal
procedures against you as a result of the loss or non-return of library
IX. CINEMA, TELEVISION AND RADIO
Finland has an active cinema culture; most cities have numerous movie
theaters and film clubs. The majority of films are foreign, including a
high percentage of American features. Films are screened in the original
language with Finnish and Swedish subtitles. The Tampere Short Film
Festival, in early March, has become since 1970 one of the premier
international events of its genre. It includes documentaries and
animations as well as short features, centered each year around a special
theme. English translation is usually provided for films which are not
originally in either Finnish or English.
Finnish television has a high proportion of English programming, mainly
from England and the U.S., with most programs (all except
off-camera-narrated documentaries and some children's programs) in the
original language with Finnish or Swedish subtitles.
Housing provided by host institutions for lecturers and research
scholars will often include TV sets. Televisions may also be rented
locally. All homes with televisions must be able to produce a valid TV
viewer license in case a license inspector rings your doorbell. If your
housing includes a television, be sure the license payment details are
clear. If you rent a set, the vendor can clarify license procedure. In
the larger cities, cable TV provides cabled homes a wide range of
international television via satellite relay, including the British
EuroSport, European Super Channel (both in English), American CNN, Music
TV and USIA WorldNet (MacNeil-Lehrer, C-Span), and Swedish, French,
German, and Russian channels.
There is also news and occasional other English programming on FM
radio. The Finnish Broadcasting Corporation provides "News in English"
updates. More extensive English topical and cultural news is broadcast by
the FBC external service on short-wave, which can also be picked up within
Finland. Grantees in south-central Finland may enjoy the Tampere
University Radio, which provides cultural and academic programming in a
variety of languages, including English. This is currently the only
non-commercial university radio in Finland.
For those with short-wave receivers, the BBC World Service, VOA and
other international radio programming can be received throughout Finland.
Schedules for BBC and VOA broadcasts may be obtained from the British
Council and America Center Libraries in Helsinki.
X. SMOKING AND DRINKING
Grantees who smoke or drink will find life in Finland very expensive
indeed. Cigarettes are over three dollars a pack, and smoking is highly
restricted in public buildings and transportation. Although light and
medium beer is available in most grocery stores, so-called IV-A, or
"Export" beer, and wines, spirits, etc., are only available in state-run
ALKO shops, at highly-taxed prices. Moreover, the opening hours of these
shops are restricted. Alcoholic beverages in bars or restaurants are very
expensive. Nevertheless, Finns have acquired a "reputation" for alcohol
consumption, and some of the local drinking habits may raise a few
eyebrows at first.
For grantees living in or visiting Helsinki, the U.S. Embassy opens its
"Embassy Club" to U.S. citizens (upon presentation of a U.S. passport) on
Friday evenings. The Club has a bar and diner where an occasional juicy
pepper steak with french fries, tossed salad, and a few tall cold ones or
select California wine may do much to soothe the price shock of city
XI. THE FINNISH SAUNA
The sauna is one of Finland's gifts to the world. The sauna is basically
a bath, i.e. a quite ordinary way for one to clean oneself. It is not
intended for weight-control, physical conditioning, medical treatment, or
sexual adventurism. Families usually have a family sauna time once or
twice a week, where the whole family may go together. Otherwise, saunas
are sexually segregated -- the men go to one, the women to another.
The sauna has very clean, wholesome, pure, and almost religious
connotations in Finnish tradition. Almost all apartment buildings and
many individual housing units have their own saunas. Informal social
functions may include a sauna. The first time, don't be afraid to ask a
few questions about procedure; you will find the experience simple,
relaxing, and enjoyable. One seldom ever knows a Finn well unless you
have been to sauna together, so prepare yourself for one of your more
pleasurable learning experiences.
XII. FOOD AND COOKING
Part of the Fulbright experience is acquaintance with the cuisine of the
host culture. Be assured that no grantee has yet starved to death in
Finland! A separate guide to food equivalents and shopping terminology
will be part of your orientation on arrival. These will help you negotiate
local supermarkets and market halls. It would be useful to bring your
favorite cookbook, both for direct use and as a reference for questions
about American food that you may be asked. Get a recent copy that has
metric as well as American measurements. You may also wish to bring
measuring utensils which have both U.S. and metric gradations.
In Finland, as in most countries, eating out is more expensive than
eating at home. There are not many moderately-priced restaurants, but
there are many snackbars and cafeterias (called "Baari" or
"Kahvila"). Both students (with your student discount card) and
staff also have access to subsidized daily meals at university restaurants
and cafeterias. While not necessarily "gourmet delights," these could
lower your meal costs considerably.
Typical U.S. foodstuffs are generally available in Finland, although
imported foods are more expensive than those produced domestically. Prices
vary according to season and market fluctuations. You will find grocery
stores are of high quality, and are clean and professional in their
training and service. For budgeting purposes, you should project food
costs as roughly double those in the U.S., at least until you become
familiar with the local cuisine and are able to read the advertised
specials in the local markets. If you limit your shopping to what you
normally eat back home or what "looks familiar," you will have remarkably
high food costs.
Generally, meat is more expensive than in the U.S. However, fresh fish
is plentiful and often inexpensive. Salmon or rainbow trout are good,
often on special, and less expensive than beef or chicken. There is a
great variety of high-quality breads and dairy products. Almost all
wintertime fresh fruits in Finland are imported, but specials on apples,
oranges, and bananas may have prices comparable to northern regions of the
Fresh vegetables vary in price from moderate to expensive, but are
available throughout the year. Frozen vegetables are available, at higher
prices than in the U.S. Frozen berries and canned fruit, meat, vegetables
and soups tend to be expensive. Dried beans, peas, and lentils, and
dehydrated soups and bouillon cubes are all available. There are no
vegetable shortenings (like "Crisco") in Finland, but corn and other
vegetable oils are plentiful. Bakery goods are abundant and delicious,
and served at frequent coffee receptions. Prepare yourself to eat well.
The key to maximizing purchasing power is to learn Finnish food and
shopping terminology, and then take advantage of frequent specials,
gradually modifying your diet as seasonal changes present new values. Food
economy will be realized best by those adept at preparing the potato, that
cheap, universally-available and highly nutritious cornerstone of Finnish
Grantee children will notice that some American staples, such as peanut
butter, Jello, mayonnaise and chocolate chips are not easily available.
Most Finnish children consider the very idea of a peanut butter and jelly
sandwich revolting. This may make for interesting cultural experiences
come snack time when your neighbor's children get together with yours.
While children soon learn to live off the land, it is sometimes useful to
cache a supply of familiar junk food for culture-shock emergencies. A
plastic bucket of peanut butter and/or a few packages of M&Ms,
marshmallows, and other exotic items can be mailed ahead, and may be
useful one dark November night.
XIII. SOCIAL VISITS IN FINLAND
Lecturers and researchers especially may be invited into a number of
Finnish homes. While "visiting procedure" will be covered during
orientations, several advance pointers are worth knowing. It is customary
to remove one's shoes when entering a Finnish home. The reasons for this
become obvious once the fall rainy season and winter begin. Because of
this you should take along, when visiting (particularly women), a pair of
"inside shoes" to change into after removing your outside boots. You will
also need a large enough handbag (or extra plastic bag) in which to carry
these shoes. Men usually take along extra shoes (depending on the level
of formality) or an extra pair of warm socks or slippers to keep their
feet warm on the parquet floors. One learns quickly from experience.
Make sure there are no holes in your socks!
When visiting Finnish homes, it is customary to take small gifts to the
hosts (and their younger children). Flowers and chocolate are the usual,
but you might wish to bring for your visits small U.S. cookbooks or local
memorabilia that do not take up much luggage space, but which convey a
"personal" flavor of general Americana or the subculture of your home
If you have children, they may be invited to other children's birthday
parties. Balloons, local-imprint napkins, photo calendars, funny
ballpoint pens, cartoon character pocket toys, etc., can easily be mailed
in advance and may prove to be a highlight of parties to which your child
is invited. Picture story books are popular for younger children. For
school-age kids, it may be useful to bring some of the textbooks your
child would have been using if he or she had continued in the American
school. If your child attends a Finnish school, there will be tutoring by
English-speaking teachers who would appreciate knowing the level and
material your child is expected to work with upon return to the States.
Finns are often characterized as being shy and reticent. True or not,
it is certainly the case that Fulbrighters who take the initiative in
making contacts and being the first to invite people over will have a much
fuller life while in Finland. Finns are sometimes uncertain about exactly
what your "position" might be relative to theirs, and thus insecure in
initiating contacts. If you come prepared to do the initiating yourself,
most such problems tend to disappear.
XIV. DRESS AND CLOTHING CONSIDERATIONS
Despite what you may imagine from its location on the map, the Finnish
climate is mostly less severe than that of the American upper Midwest.
The cold months are usually dry (outside coastal cities), and in the south
the thermometer seldom falls below zero Fahrenheit. Moreover, Finnish
homes and public transportation are very well-insulated and heated.
Finnish academics tend to dress more formally than Americans, although
this depends on the age, sex, and personalities of the people, and customs
of the department involved. For daily wear in the department, Lecturers
normally wear casual suits, sport coats, or even sweaters and ties (skirts
& blouses, slacks & sweaters, pants suits). Student wear is similar to
that in the U.S., but graduate grantees should bring several nice options
for interviews, advising appointments, dinner invitations, or "special
Bring A Dark Suit!
All grantees should bring at least one "formal" dark suit or dress (black,
navy blue, or dark gray, with black dress shoes). This will be needed on
several occasions,, including the Opening Ceremonies of the academic year,
and invitations to the homes of your university Rector and host professor,
or receptions at Embassies. To wear turtlenecks, sport coats or
light-colored suits at such occasions may be considered insulting by both
the hosts and other guests. It should not be necessary to mention that
wearing running shoes or hiking boots with suits or dresses is a
phenomenon that has not found acceptance in Finnish society.
Dress For the Climate.
For autumn, early spring, and winter you will need sturdy, insulated
walking shoes. A raincoat and rubber boots will be useful for the rainy
period of October through early December, and for early spring when the
snows are melting. Woolen socks will also be useful. In the winter men
will need long underwear, and women woolen tights or long woolen stockings
when outside. (Departments may have a "woolly room" for women to change
these undergarments in winter mornings and evenings). Dressing in "layers"
is wise. You will often move from well-heated buildings out into the cold
and wet and then back. Headwear is essential in the winter, though if you
don't normally use a hat or cap you might wait and purchase it in Finland
so you will look like everyone else and have something appropriate for the
If you bring coats or down jackets from the States, make sure they have
hanger loops in the inside collar. This applies especially to outerwear
of children at schools or day-care centers. Every restaurant, school or
other coat-check facility you enter will have an attendant who will take
your coat and try to hang it by the hanger-loop (which all coats sold in
Finland have). Coats without loops soon fall off the peg and end up on
the floor. Cleaning bills are considerably more expensive than hanger-loop
If your feet are narrower than U.S. "B" width, bring extra shoes for all
occasions. Finns are well-endowed with sturdy feet; there is little
market demand for narrow-width shoes. Most narrow shoes made in Finland
are exported to the high-fashion market. They are beautiful, but
expensive. If you have regular or wide feet, the selection of Finnish
footwear is abundant. Imported Italian shoes are usually narrower.
Finnish Clothing Bargains.
Finnish fashion design has an international reputation, especially in
women's wear. Marimekko, Vuokko, and other quality brands cost less than
half their U.S. prices. There are also many handwoven items of unique
design and styling. Impressive buys can be made on high-quality,
fashionable leather and fur outerwear, particularly during post-Christmas
and Spring sales. However, clothing in general is more expensive in
Finland than the U.S. You may want to keep this in mind when planning
your clothing needs.
XV. CLOTHING FOR CHILDREN
Children dress more or less the same way for school in Finland as they do
in America. Blue jeans are common. These and slacks are useful for both
boys and girls for playwear. Girls often wear woolen stockings or
leotards to school, and use ski pants or slacks for sports in winter.
Long underwear in winter is a must for boys, especially for sports. Snow
suits for children are of good quality. School children need book and
accessory bags, and soft slippers for wear in the schoolroom, but these
can easily be purchased in Finland.
Parents! Remember that younger children seldom wish to dress
conspicuously differently from their peers. Tradition and climate result
in certain types of clothing and accessories being prevalent, if not
"required" for younger Finnish schoolchildren. We suggest moderation in
shipping extra clothing for younger children. Wait until you are
familiar with what your child's Finnish classmates or playmates are
wearing. Perhaps you could arrange for a friend to mail over "reserve
boxes" of extra clothing if the situation warrants, rather than bringing
everything with you, only to end up acquiring in Finland most of what your
child will actually wear.
XVI. LAUNDRY AND DRY-CLEANING
Bring along as much wash-and-wear clothing as possible. Dry cleaning is
easily available, but is considerably more expensive than in the U.S.
Easily-dried fabrics are preferable. Clothes dryers are uncommon;
hang-drying is still the rule. Clothes washing in general takes longer in
Finland; washing machines first take in cold water, then heat the water,
then wash the clothes, and then centrifuge after the rinse cycle. Washing
machines also have smaller capacities.
European washing machines process the fabric longer and more thoroughly
than most American machines. While this results in a high cleaning
efficiency, it also demands a high quality of fabric and workmanship for
the clothing to remain intact. It also takes 2-4 times longer per load of
laundry. Add to this hang-drying times and you are led to certain
conclusions about the types of clothing you should bring along, and how
many hours your family laundry person will spend doing laundry. Commercial
self-service laundry facilities are rare (only 2 in Helsinki). Student
housing includes laundry facilities, and housing supplied for Lecturers
and Research scholars will often have washing machines. But if your
housing does not include a washing machine, expect to hand-wash your
clothing until an alternative can be found.
XVII. TRANSPORTATION CONNECTIONS
Automobile vs. Public Transport.
For its size, climate, and population, Finland has a good road network.
Most Finnish families own an automobile, and multi-car families are not
uncommon. There is a dense network of garages and service stations,
well-stocked with trained mechanics and automotive parts and accessories.
However, driving is expensive. Cars are highly taxed, and gasoline and
oil prices are at least double those in the U.S. Service costs are also
Balancing this is an efficient public transportation system both
locally and nationally which most Finns use for everyday needs. It is
usually more practical for Fulbrighters in the main cities to rely on
public transportation rather than to import or purchase their own cars.
There is a dense railroad network, with generally excellent service,
especially on the north-south axis. There are, for example, nearly two
dozen train connections daily between Tampere and Helsinki. Trains are
clean and comfortable, and run on time. The fares are reasonable. Seat
reservations are not necessary except on a few Special Express trains, but
may be purchased for all except suburban commuter trains. Various
discount fares are also available, both for domestic and international
travel. The ticket counters at the railway stations would be happy to
provide details. Finland also belongs to the Eurailpass System, although
Eurailpass tickets must be purchased in North America before your
There are also extensive passenger bus services, both to points where the
trains run, and many points where trains cannot go. Buses are generally
slightly more expensive than the trains, but make up for this with their
more extensive routings. Again, they are clean, comfortable, and punctual.
Seat reservations may be purchased, but are not required. Tickets may be
purchased either in bus stations or on the bus.
The Finnair domestic service is one of the most extensive in Europe in
proportion to the population. Although normal fares are pricey, there are
discounts for both commuter and tourist travel. Students may obtain
reduced fares on domestic flights.
XVIII. CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS SERVICES
There is complete freedom of religion in Finland, although there are two
"state churches," both of which have the right to register and tax their
members. The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church registers about 92%, and
the Finnish Orthodox Church about 1.3% of the population. Although most
Finns belong to one of the two state churches, this is not reflected in
attendance figures for church services and activities, which attract less
than 5% of the population on the average.
In addition to the Lutheran and Orthodox churches, services of which
are in Finnish or Swedish, there are also Roman Catholic, Mormon, Baptist,
Jehovah's Witness, and other religious communities, as well as
interdenominational English-language church congregations in many
university cities and some smaller towns. Host-institution orientations
normally mention local religious services in English in communities where
In Helsinki, there is a German Lutheran Church as well as Greek
Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Jewish congregations. Anglican services are
given regularly at the Helsinki cathedral by a chaplain attached to the
British Embassy. There is also an Islamic Mosque in Helsinki.
XIX. SOURCES OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The above is a general overview of items useful to know before departure
from the United States. On arrival in Finland, you will attend
orientations by FUSEEC and your host institution which will cover many
practical details of living in Finland.
Contacts in the U.S. It is nonetheless best to learn as much as
possible before departure. FUSEEC may be able to supply names of past
Fulbrighters in Finland whom you can contact for further information.
Also, your home university International Office may be able to provide the
names of Finnish nationals or exchange scholars currently in residence.
They would be excellent sources of current information on what you can
expect on arrival in Finland.
The Finnish Embassy, Consulates, and Tourist Office. To obtain visas
and request copies of a wealth of background information on Finland,
contact either the Embassy of Finland in Washington or the Finnish
Consulates in New York or Los Angeles.
The addresses are:
- The Embassy of Finland, 3215 New Mexico Avenue
N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016;
- Consulate General of Finland, 1 Finland
House, 540 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10022;
- Consulate General of Finland, 1900 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 1025,
Los Angeles, California 90067.
- Information may also be obtained from the
Finland National Tourist Office, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y.
You are preparing for an exchange in a country with one of the best
Fulbright program reputations. Most Fulbrighters in Finland have had
outstanding experiences, and have returned time and again to renew old
acquaintances and establish new ones. FUSEEC looks forward to welcoming
you as a new member of the Fulbright community in Finland.