Finland

There is little informal work to be found and most jobs require at least a remedial level of Finnish. Citizens of European Union countries can work freely in Finland, but acquiring a work permit from outside the EU means doing battle with the infamous Directorate of Immigration Ulkomaalaisvirasto (http://www.migri.fi/netco...). However, students permitted to study full-time in Finland are allowed work part-time up to 25 h/week or even full-time during holiday periods.

For jobs, you might want to check out the Ministry of Labour (http://www.mol.fi). Most of the posted jobs are described in Finnish so you may need some help in translation, but some jobs are in English.

A rapidly growing trend in Finland, especially for the younger generation, is to work for placement agencies. Although there has been a massive surge of public companies going private in the last ten years, this trend seems to be fueled by the increased demand for more flexible work schedules as well as the freedom to work seasonally or sporadically. Due to the nature of these types of agencies as well as the types of work they provide, it is common for them to hire non-Finns. Some agencies include Adecco, Staff Point, Manpower, Aaltovoima and Biisoni.

If you are invited to a job interview, remember that modesty is a virtue in Finland. Finns appreciate facts and directness, so stay on topic and be truthful. Exaggeration and bragging is usually associated with lying. You can check expected salaries with the union for your field, as they usually have defined minimum wages. Salaries range from €1,200 - €6,500 per month 2010.

Finland's universities are generally well-regarded and offer many exchange programs, but the high cost of living and the prospect of facing the long, cold Finnish winter mean that the country is not a particularly popular choice. However, there are no tuition fees for regular degree students, including international exchange students. While lectures are usually conducted in Finnish, most universities offer the option to complete all courses through assignments and exams in English. Many universities also offer the option to study Finnish at various levels.

A reasonable monthly budget excluding rent would be €600 to €900. Rents vary depending on location such that in Greater Helsinki and particularly Helsinki proper prices may be two times that of cheaper locations or student housing. Many exchange programs fully or partly subsidize accommodation in student dorms. However, the state does not provide student accommodation and dorms are usually owned by student unions and foundations. Student union membership at around €70-100/year is obligatory, but this includes free access to student health services.

EU citizens can simply enter the country and register as a student after arrival, while students from elsewhere will need to arrange their residence permit beforehand. CIMO (http://www.cimo.fi) Centre for International Mobility administers exchange programs and can arrange scholarships and traineeships in Finland, while the Finnish National Board of Education (http://www.edu.fi) offers basic information about study opportunities.

northern lights

Spotting the eerie Northern Lights aurora borealis, or revontulet in Finnish glowing in the sky is on the agenda of many visitors, but even in Finland it's not so easy. During the summer, it's light all day along and the aurora become invisible, and they're rarely seen in the south. The best place to spot them is during the winter in the far north, when the probability of occurrence is over 50% around the magnetic peak hour of 22:30 — if the sky is clear, that is. The ski resort of Saariselkä, easily accessible by plane and with plenty of facilities, is particularly popular among aurora hunters.

Sports

sports
 

Notably lacking in craggy mountains or crenellated fjords, Finland is not the adrenalin-laden winter sports paradise you might expect: the traditional Finnish pastime is cross-country skiing through more or less flat terrain. If you're looking for downhill skiing, snowboarding etc, you'll need to head up to Lapland and resorts like Levi and Saariselkä.

During the short summer you can swim, fish or canoe in the lakes. They are usually warmest around 20th July. Local newspapers usually have the current surface temperatures, and a map of the surface temperatures can also be found from the Environment Ministry website (http://wwwi2.ymparisto.fi...). During the warmest weeks, late at night or early in the morning the water can feel quite pleasant when the air temperature is lower than the water's. Most towns also have swimming halls with slightly warmer water, but these are often closed during the summer. Fishing permits, if needed, can be easily bought from any R-Kioski although they take a small surcharge for it.

For hikers, fishermen and hunters, the Ministry of Forestry maintains an online Excursion Map map (http://www.retkikartta.fi...) with trails and huts marked. The best season for hiking is early fall, after most mosquitoes have died off and the autumn colors have come out.

And if you'd like to try your hand at something uniquely Finnish, don't miss the plethora of bizarre sports contests in the summer, including:

sports
Air Guitar World Championships

(http://www.airguitarworld...), august, oulu.

sports
Mobile Phone Throwing Championship

(http://www.mobilephonethr...), august, savonlinna. recycle your nokia!

sports
Swamp Soccer World Championship

(http://www.suopotkupallo....), july, hyrynsalmi. probably the messiest sporting event in the world.

sports
Wife Carrying World Championship

(http://www.eukonkanto.fi/en/), july, sonkajärvi. the grand prize is the wife's weight in beer.

sports
Sulkavan Suursoudut

(http://www.suursoudut.fi/en), july, sulkava finland's biggest rowing event

Festivals

festivals
Tuska Open Air

(http://www.tuska-festival.fi) , heavy metal, helsinki, late june

festivals
 

Finland hosts many music festivals festari during the summer. Some of the most notable include:

festivals
 

Tangomarkkinat (http://www.tangomarkkinat.fi/) World's oldest tango festival. It is held early every July in Seinäjoki. (http://en.wikipedia.org/w...)

festivals
Vauhtiajot

(http://www.vauhtiajot.fi/) motorsport and rock festival in july in seinäjoki.

festivals
Nummirock

(http://nummirock.fi), heavy metal, nummijärvi near kauhajoki, late june midsummer

festivals
Provinssirock

(http://www.provinssirock.fi) one of the biggest rock festivals in finland in the middle of june in seinäjoki. (http://en.wikipedia.org/w...).

festivals
Sauna Open Air

(http://www.sauna-open-air.fi), heavy metal, tampere, early june

festivals
Ruisrock

(http://ruisrock.fi), rock, turku, july

festivals
Pori Jazz

(http://www.porijazz.fi/), jazz/world music, pori, mid-july

festivals
Flow

(http://www.flowfestival.com), indie/electronic/urban, helsinki, mid-august

festivals
 

Most of the festivals last 2-4 days and are very well organized, with many different bands playing, with eg. Foo Fighters and Linkin Park headlining at Provinssi 2008. The normal full ticket all days price is about €60-100, which includes a camp site where you can sleep, eat and meet other festival guests. The atmosphere at festivals is great and probably you'll find new friends there. Of course drinking a lot of beer is a part of the experience.

There are also many more less-advertised underground festivals around the countryside every summer.