It was very stressful the first days.
After our arrival in Vaasa at 5 p.m. (01.09.2003) we first tried to find Sabrina’s accommodation. We finally found it and decided to call our tutors and to meet at Sabrina’s accomodation, the Loftis.
For a long time we were searching a callbox and finally found one. We called Anne and Heidi and arranged a meeting at Loftis. The first conversations in English were cumbersome but we all agreed that I and Heidi should go to my apartment and then come back to unload Sabrina’s luggage.
So I drove with Heidi to my apartment, the Tekla II, and we went to my new room. I directly met my new roommate Riko, a Finn. His mother was just cleaning his room. By and by I learned more about him. His parents seemed to be very concerned about him because they often visited him and also brought him some food. Sometimes also his grandma came – it was often awkward for him. But he is a cool roommate. I can talk with him about everything. He has already been in Germany and likes German beer, especially Holsten Pilsener which I brought from the ferry. But in January he has to go to the army, so I will then get a new roommate. In the beginning he also went shopping with me because Finnish supermarkets are different from the German ones.
After I met Riko Heidi shortly explained me some things and gave me a few documents from VOAS. She wanted to do with me all stuff on Wednesday. I personally thought that it would have been too late and so I decided to go with Sabrina and her tutor Anne already on Tuesday to take care of some important things.
Then we drove back to Loftis and I unloaded my car with Sabrina. Before the unloading we said goodbye to Anne and Heidi. Later we drove again to my accommodation and unloaded my stuff. In the evening I quickly made me something to eat and then directly went to bed – totally exhausted. I completely have unloaded my luggage at first after three days, because we had so much other things to do.
On Tuesday we met Anne, Sabrina’s tutor. We went to Nordea bank and opened a bank account. Then we visited Meles Bike to buy a bike. The bikes were old and I decided to take a bike with a two gear change and two locks – a ladies bicycle. In the next days it turned out that the cable of the gear change was always breaking, that the seat was slipping and the brakes were not always working. But in the end I was glad to have a bike and paid 65€ for the bike and 5€ for the lock. I also would get half of the price back at the end.
The next days I often had to go again to this shop, because of a broken gear change and my bike tube broke because of glass. After that we went to Q-Net and I got the documents for my internet connection – the internet was very slowly at the beginning – it wasn’t possible to send an email. Later we went to the post office to buy stamps.
Thereafter we went to Mini-Mani, the cheapest supermarket in Vaasa. It’s a combination of a supermarket and a building centre, perhaps a kind of German Metro. You get there almost everything! The only problem was the Finnish language. So I took the most important things like for example pizza.
The drinks were definitely more expensive than in Germany, but the price of the food was partly ok, but generally also more expensive than in Germany. I also saw gambling machines at the exit of the supermarket, which exist in all Finnish supermarkets.
On Wednesday we went to the university and directly to the International Office where we met Anne and Marko, which were responsible for the exchange students. We had to fill in many documents and also received many of them. Later I met Heidi, my tutor, again we made a tour through the university and saw the different departments and had our lunch in the student restaurant Mathilda, which is situated in the building Tervahovi.
The meal in Finland is generally better than in the canteen in Mainz. The restaurant is nicely designed with televisions and group tables for 4 persons, often also for 10-20 people. It is not so huge, rather small and comfortable.
You have a nice view on the Baltic Sea which is fantastic during nice weather.
Now I come to the food. You have the choice between 3 different meals. The price is between 2.40€ and 3.90€ with student discount. Mostly there is also a vegetarian meal. You can take milk, water but also tea to the meal. Water you can take as much as you want. Then you also make up a salad and get bread from the huge bread bar, where you can choose between different types of bread and butter. The advantage is the different taste of each meal and not a similar taste like in Mainz (sauce). One critical point is the missing of spices in the meal but you always have a huge choice of spices. There is a huge bar with spices: Oregano, Tabasco etc.
Sometimes also the noodles are overcooked but generally the meals have been better than in Mainz because of the choice and the taste. You can always complain because it’s a mass meal and not individually prepared. Therefore you have the low price. But
totally you can eat healthy and balanced.
You can find different student restaurants on the whole campus area: Mathilda, in the building Tervahovi, Cotton Club and then a student restaurant in Fabriiki.
The university itself is situated nicely at the Baltic Sea. You have a nice view from the library and the cafeteria Mathilda. The buildings are quiet modern, especially Tritonia with the wooden library and the nice view on the Baltic Sea. There exist many computer with the newest operating system (Windows XP). You can also burn and print in the computer rooms.
As a student you have 1500 free copies, but the problem is that many scripts are not available in the internet, only at the bookstore. It’s also possible to get a key card to enter the university the whole time to work or surf in the internet.
Furthermore there are very much green areas and trees on the campus. There is even a little harbour at the sea.
The lecture rooms are very good equipped. The seats are upholstered and there are always computers in the rooms. In the big lecture rooms fit around 300 people. But the little lecture rooms predominate.
There have also been different info events for the exchange students, where everything was explained. At the beginning it was a little bit difficult because many study information have been only in Finnish. I was also confused about the courses, because I didn’t know how much of them I should take.
Furthermore there have been very much parties. A good one was in D. O. M. with funny games and later we went to Papin Nenä, the centre of the night life in Vaasa. There was also a “sitting party” with funny English and Finnish songs and a contest called “Vaasa by night”. Everyone got a kind of passport and if you managed it to go to 8 pubs and order something to drink you received a T-Shirt. We solved this task, but also spent 30€ this night – an expensive fun. We also made a little boat trip to a fish restaurant and a picnic at the campus with sport activities.
We also bought a red overall. Every university had its own logo and colour. We wore them on different university parties. At almost every party we got a kind of button which we put on the overall. So it’s very easy to recognize at how much parties you have been. It was really a good decision to buy one for 23€ because it’s a good memory. The city Vaasa itself is not very nice. Without a bike you can’t do anything here. Driving car is durable too expensive and from the university to the city it’s still a big distance.
At the moment there is a big construction work at the market place and it won’t be ready until next year. There is a very cold wind in Vaasa, because it’s situated directly at the sea. The people are quiet nice but you have to pay attention at the zebra crossings. There exist very much crossings but nobody takes care of them. Furthermore every student rides the bike without light. Near the Tekla II most of the students live and it’s very easy to meet people. The university is 10 minutes away, the centre around 20 minutes. My car parks in a parking house, which works with a chip card. There exist very much washing machines in my accommodation and also a sauna. In the first days it was very quiet and I hope it stays in this way. Actually my room is very big. I also have a kind of rocking chair, two rugs and even curtains. But they are ugly pink.
There is a junk shop in the city (JUPITER) where you can get very much cheap stuff - cutlery for 5 cent and sofas for 10€. I thing I am buying some stuff there.
Many exchange students live in my apartment. Generally there are 84 at the university this semester. But many of them stay only for one term – what a pity.
The communication language is English. But I already learnt a little bit Spanish and Finnish.
I also went to an ice hockey match with Ibro, whom I already knew from Germany. You can make very much party with him. Then we also played crazy golf with Saara and Ibro and ate Reindeer at Saara’s place. It tasted quiet good – a little bit like deer.
The weather is good, but it’s getting worthier with very much rain. I also bought a card for my mobile phone, because a fixed network is worth. All are calling only with mobile phones because it’s cheap. I have a Finnish net – Telia.
Trips to Tuuri (03.10) and to Lapland (16.–19.10.03) are planned. Perhaps we are privately organising some trips because it’s cheap to fly with Ryanair. I also probably come home on Christmas with Ryanair because it’s the cheapest possibility. But when I am going back to Germany next year I am driving again my car.

Report 10:  The First Days in Vaasa The First Days in Vaasa