Fulbright Incoming Orientation Handbook: Finland
A Five-Part Guide to Fulbright Exchanges in Finland
John D. Hopkins

April 1990 Original Edition

The Fulbright Orientation Handbook to Finland was written for distribution to incoming Fulbright scholars in Finland and their Finnish academic hosts. This original version was produced in Spring 1990 by John D. Hopkins during a consultancy for the Finland-United States Educational Exchange Commission (FUSEEC), the Bi-National Fulbright Commission in Finland. The United States Information Agency subsequently distributed the handbook as a model for Fulbright Commissions in Europe.

Table of Contents

Part One: The Fulbright Program in Finland

  • FUSEEC Responsibilities to American Grantees
  • Differences in Grantee Categories and Host Responsibility
    1. Lecturers and Research Scholars
    2. Short-Term and Unspecified-Field Researchers
    3. Graduate Students
    4. The Bicentennial Chair in American Studies
  • Grantee Responsibilities
  • Evaluation Report Reimbursement
  • Grantee Finances
  • The Incidental Allowance
  • Domestic and Foreign Travel During Your Grant
  • Arrival and Orientation in Finland

Part Two: Practical Concerns Before Your Departure

  • Obtaining Passports and Visas
  • Books and Luggage
  • Computer Equipment
  • Finnish Videotape Standards
  • U.S. Taxes and Insurance
  • Finnish Taxation and Payments
  • Using Your Own Automobile
  • Finnish Schools and Day Care
  • English Schools and Correspondence Courses

Part Three: Preparations For Your Fulbright Project

  • Contact With Your Host Institution
  • Differences in U.S. and Finnish Academic Structure
  • What to Bring and How to Plan
  • Special Concerns of Grantees
  • Intensive Finnish Language Courses

Part Four: The Educational System in Finland

(see also The Educational System of Finland: Background, Structure, Equivalencies and New Directions)

  • School and University Calendars
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • University Education
  • University Degree Requirements
  • Academic Credits and Study Program Structures
  • Course, Department, and Faculty Examinations
  • Academic Staff Structure

Part Five: Living in Finland

  • Health and Medical Care
  • Electricity
  • Tipping and Service Charges
  • Telephone Service
  • Money and Banking
  • Public Holidays and Shopping Hours
  • English Books, Newspapers and Periodicals
  • Libraries and Study Facilities
  • Cinema, Television and Radio
  • Smoking and Drinking
  • The Finnish Sauna
  • Food and Cooking
  • Social Visits in Finland
  • Dress and Clothing Considerations
  • Clothing for Children
  • Laundry and Dry-cleaning
  • Transportation Connections
  • Churches and Religious Services
  • Sources of Additional Information
  • About the Author


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 exchanges.


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.


American grantees currently fall into one of four categories:
  1. Lecturers or Research Scholars, whose projects have been requested by the host Finnish institution;
  2. Short-term and "Unspecified Field" Researchers, who proposed their own projects, but requested affiliation from a Finnish institution to facilitate the project;
  3. Graduate Students, who proposed their own study or research projects, with a request for student or visiting scholar affiliation with a Finnish institution; and
  4. the Bicentennial Chair, at the University of Helsinki.

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.


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.


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 the scholar.

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.


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 student housing.

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.


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.


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 terms.

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.


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.


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:

  1. 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]
  2. 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.
If a grantee leaves Finland before May 15, the maintenance allowance 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.


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.


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 travel.


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 callers.

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 this orientation.

Return to the top of Part One
Return to the Table of Contents



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 arrival.

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 applications.

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.

Work Permits.
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.

Other Information.
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.


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 Education.

Forwarding Addresses.
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.


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.

Electrical Conversion.
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.

Laptop Option.
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.

University E-Mail.
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.


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 Finland.

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.


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.


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 have.

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 be helpful:

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 home country.

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 understand!


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.


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 relatively quickly.

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 school day.

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.


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 International School.

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.



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 accompany you.

Graduate Students.
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 before departure).

Graduate Researchers.
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.


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 classroom empty.


A. Lecturers.
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 shorter period.

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 lecture.

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.


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 be.

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.


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 such courses.



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 vacation.

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 universities.


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.


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.


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 major study.

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.


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 unusual.

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 department.


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 universities.

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.


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 Professorship.

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 content.


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.


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.

Acute Care.
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.

Prescription Medications.
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 thermometer.


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 institution.


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.


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 accrue.

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.


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 affiliated.

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 orientation).

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 account.

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 your account.

"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.


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.


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 larger cities.

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.


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.

City Libraries.
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.

Repository Libraries.
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 materials.


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.


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 restaurants.


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.


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 United States.

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 cuisine.

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.


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 region.

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.


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 occasions."

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 climate.

Hanger Loops.
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 installation.

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.


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.


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.


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 high.

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.

Rail Travel.
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 departure.

Intercity Buses.
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.

Air Transport.
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.


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 they exist.

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.


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. 10019.

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.

About the Author: John D. Hopkins is Lecturer in American Language and Culture in the Department of Translation Studies of the University of Tampere. He served on the Board of the Finnish Fulbright Commmission from 1978-1990, and was retained as Executive Consultant to the Board during the reorganization of the Commission in 1990. This book was written for the Commission during his consultancy. It was subsequently adapted by a number of other European Fulbright Commissions for their own national orientations.

Top of the Orientation Handbook
The Educational System of Finland (Hopkins)
Brief Background on John D. Hopkins
Selected Publications by John D. Hopkins