University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu

A letter from University of Eastern FinlandJoensuu
by Julie Smejkalová (2012)

My name is Julie Smejkalová, I am a student of the first year of the Follow-up M. A. Study Programme and I am spending an autumn semester of 2012 at University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu. The University consists of other two campuses which are located in Kuopio and Savolinna.

Joensuu is a city of approximately 70 000 inhabitants, more than 15 000 are students of the University of Eastern FInland, 600 are Exchange students. The city is located in the Eastern part of Finland, about 440 kilometers north-east from Helsinki. Joensuu is a clean, quiet, safe city surrounded by water and woods.
Before applying for this university you should consider following things:

Due to the fact that Finland is a country with low population density, especially in the Eastern parts, there are considerable distances not only between cities, but also between city parts. Since one way bus ticket costs 3, 20 €, almost all students use bikes as a means of transport. You can rent a bike for 10€/month or purchase an old one. Secondly, if you wish to get a housing that is closer to the university, you have to apply as soon as possible (at latest in the beginning of June), since some housing localities are situated even as far as 7 kilometers from the campus. The rent of a room in a shared flat is affordable (180-250€/month), including furniture and internet fee and free sauna. The price varies according to the distance of the location from the city center. However, there is only one housing company providing student flats in Joensuu. The number of exchange students coming every year grows and the number of rooms does not cover it, because of that fact many students are accommodated in emergency flats or hotels. I was lucky and my flat is situated in Noljakka, the city part which is located 3 kilometers from the university. Since Joensuu is covered with forest and there are numerous cycle tracks, you can enjoy biking or skiing to the university campus. However, those who mind walking or biking long distances in rainy or cold weather should consider their coming to Joensuu.

Another important thing you should bear in mind is that semester in Finland starts one month earlier than in the Czech Republic (an autumn semester starts in the beginning of September, winter semester in January). If you want to register for the courses you are interested in, it is necessary to arrive at least during the second week of semester. To participate an orientation program which is taking place the first week of the semester is a great opportunity to get to know the university as well as the other students. However, the time shift between Czech and Finnish semesters could be beneficial for those, who are coming for one semester only and have to take their exams both in Finland and home university. Semesters in Finland are little bit shorter that in the Czech Republic.

The university comprises four faculties: the Philosophical Faculty, the Faculty of Science and Forestry, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies.  The Philosophical faculty, where I am doing my studies is the best option for the students from the Department of English Language and Literature of the Pedagogical Faculty. The faculty offers a wide range of interesting subjects, mainly concerning English culture and literature.  I am taking 9 courses: American Studies, Whiteness Studies, American English, African American Fiction, Oral Expression, Bilingualism, Survival Finnish, Patterns of Russian/Soviet Cultural Life, Language and Culture (Russian). During the courses are students supposed to accomplish several assignments (presentations, essays). The courses are graded on the basis of the final test. Many courses require an extensive reading, approximately 1200 pages for a 5 credit course, so be prepared to read a lot.

In my opinion, Finland is one of the best countries to improve your English. Taking courses for Exchange students you are exposed to a very good English. The professors at Foreign Languages and Translation Studies are brilliant native speakers or Finnish teachers with the high level of proficiency. The student union ESN, organizes various interesting events (e. g. The language café) by attending which you can improve your English communicative skills. Moreover, the English level of Finnish students is generally high and you can practice English everywhere, since the majority of Finns speaks English.

If you are not a fan of big busy cities and you prefer studying culture and literature to linguistics, the University of Joensuu is the right place for you. In case you do not mind the climate and can afford applying for the whole academic year, do it. To sum up, Joensuu is a beautiful city, at the University are taught enriching subjects broadening your cultural awareness, there are interesting events organized by ESN every week and, moreover, the staff of the university and the inhabitants of Joensuu are friendly and always willing to help. Concerning all these benefits, 3, 5 months (the length of one semester) is just too short time to stay.

If you consider coming to the University of the Eastern Finland, you may find helpful these links:
The university web pages:
The university registration system:
Joensuu´s housing company:

(CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Julie Smejkalová. Some rights reserved.

A letter from University of Eastern FinlandJoensuu
by Petra Schnebergerová (2011)

Hello! My name is Petra Schnebergerová and as a student of the first year of the Follow-up M. A. Study Programme I am spending the 2011 autumn semester at the part of the University of Eastern Finland which is located in Joensuu. Other parts are located in Kuopio and Savonlinna.

Joensuu is a city of approximately 70 000 inhabitants, located in the Eastern part of Finland, about 440 kilometers north-east from Helsinki, surrounded mostly by water (the Pyhäselkä lake) and woods. Roughly 15 000 of its inhabitants are the students of a local university, University of Eastern Finland. Apart from the Philosophical Faculty where I am doing my studies and which is probably the best option for students applying for the Erasmus programme via the Department of English Language and Literature of the Pedagogical Faculty, the university also offers a wide range of courses for exchange students at the Faculty of Science and Forestry, Faculty of Health Sciences or Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. This is just to illustrate what different types of students you might come across here.

There are few things you should consider before you choose to apply for this university:

Firstly, Finland is a huge country which is nevertheless not very populated, especially in the Eastern parts, which means that there are considerable distances not only between cities but also between the Joensuu city centre, where the university campus is located, and other parts of the city, where most of the student´s housing buildings are located. Since one way bus ticket in Joensuu costs 3,10€ and the only discount you can get as a student is some 40 rides for 70€ which would last you only about 14 days, almost all the students (local or exchange) use bikes as a means of transport. You can rent a bike there for about 33€ for 4 months or buy some older one. But if you are not ready for frequent biking (about 7 kilometers from my housing – Latolankatu- to the university) Joensuu is probably not the best option for you.
There are of course housings that are closer to the campus, but the prices of the accommodation tend to go higher the closer to the centre the dormitory is. This year lot of exchange students had problems with getting any accommodation at all, so think about that and apply for the accommodation as soon as possible. There is only one company in Joensuu which provides student housing so if you do not get a room from them, it can become a real problem.

What you should also note is that the semesters here start much sooner than in the Czech Republic. For example the autumn semestr starts as soon as the 1st September. You should bear that in mind, since you can register to the courses here only after you have registered personally at the university office and after you got a student number and password to the university registration system. In my case I came as late as 11th September and I almost did not get to the courses I wanted. Plus you do not want to miss the first week´s orientation course because it is a great opportunity to get to know the other students as well as the university.

If you are worried that you will not get a chance to improve your English because it is Finland, please do not be. The Philosophical Faculty, or more exactly the   School of Humanities (Foreign Languages and Translation Studies) where I am taking my courses has a set of brilliant native speakers of English as professors and the level of English proficiency of the Finnish professors is very high too. If you take all your courses in English you are definitely going to be exposed to a very good English. The Finnish students generally speak very good English too and even in the shops, libraries, cafeterias etc. the staff usually understand English so you will get a lot of opportunities to speak.

At this moment I am taking six courses: American Studies, Second Language Acquisition, African American Fiction, Autobiography and Childhood, Bilingualism and English Drama. All of these courses will be graded on the basis of a written exam, essay (usually 6 pages) and (not in all cases) presentation during the class. If you take literary courses, be prepared to read a lot of books and even in the non-literary ones there is a lot of extracts to read for every week.

However, all of the teachers as well as many local students are more than ready to help the exchange students with whatever they need so it has not been a problem to get by so far. Here are some useful links you might want to go through before you apply: the university web pages:; Joensuu´s housing company:; the university registration system: and which are the web pages of local student organisation for exchange students where you can check what is going on in Joensuu right now. There are lots of interesting events organized by this organization.

(CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Petra Schnebergerová. Some rights reserved.

Turun Yliopisto, University of Turku

coming soon