Application and Admission Link to heading

After several SAT attempts with unsatisfactory results, the application to Aalto Bachelor’s Programme in Science and Technology was finally open in Jan 2023. The process was fairly straightforward with a photo of high school diploma. Finding it from piles of chaos was the more difficult part of it. The system allows for a maximum of 6 study options, where I put Data Science, Digital Systems and Design, and Computational Engineering, in that order. After filling in the info, all it took was months of patience.

On 26th May, the email that opens with “Congratulations” arrived, and as it turns out, SAT Score of 1510 is not enough for Data Science this year.

Congratulations Email

It’s sufficient to be granted a full scholarship for Digital Systems and Design though, and that’s quite a relief.

Scholarship Decision

Student Housing Link to heading

At this stage, things go in a much faster pace now. The competition for housing is fierce, and to be eligible for housing application in HOAS and AYY, you need to be enrolled for the academic year. Right away, I accepted the admission on and signed the scholarship agreement. Enrolling as an attending student also comes with the membership fee of Student Union (AYY) which is €63 for 2 terms. That same night, I went through all housing options of HOAS and AYY to finalise my application as soon as possible.

HOAS Application

Eventually I narrowed down to a number of studios that I believe should be great place to stay for five years without going bankrupt. The AYY queue position isn’t looking very good, but there’s still time, I thought.

Domo in May

Let me tell you, that ain’t work. At this very moment, almost three months later on 12th August, my AYY queue looks like this.

Domo in May

and may I also quote the email from HOAS that says

HOAS Email

It essentially means I have to look at some other options in two weeks, before landing in Finland. In retrospect, if I were less picky, things would have been much easier. But anyway, that’s where the subleasing telegram group comes in.

There are plenty of masters students, exchange students and others like me who are in urgent need of affordable housing. Just from the shear number of members in the group, you get the idea.

Subleasing Group

It took a couple of days before I ended up with an offer of AYY studio located in Puotila, about 30 minutes of metro away from campus. Sounds pretty easy, but as the tenant recalled, there were more than 30 candidates asking about it, and only one, which is me, eventually got it. A little extra budget makes a big difference. I will have more details written here when I have the contract.

Note: If you don’t get a HOAS or AYY contract, you may have to resort to the private market. Based on a friend’s experience, you need to have Finnish identity code to apply in the private market. However, to get your identity code, it is required to have your residence registered, which is of course not possible in such case. It gets even more complicated, when your municipality of residence is also required for opening a bank account and data plan subscription. Make sure you know what you’re doing in advance.

Residence Permit Link to heading

Non-EU students need to have a residence permit to legally stay in Finland for the period of study. In general, the application of residence permit takes 1 to 2 months to be reviewed and processed. Depending of the visa policy in your country of origin, you may not be able to enter Finland without the permit. If you don’t want to be panic from this, better prepare early.

Let’s go back in time when the admission result arrived and you have been enrolled for the academic year. Based on the instruction of migri and EnterFinland, the following are something I paid attention to:

  1. a valid passport, remember to renew it if it’s too old
  2. sufficient financial resources, prepare to show at least €6720 in total, which brings us to
  3. bank statement, it may take a couple of weeks depending on your account
  4. private insurance, I paid €220 for swisscare 12 months insurance
  5. pay for the application, that’s another €350
  6. supporting documents when the money comes from parents, such as transaction receipt, income proof and birth certificate

By the time when I submitted my application on 24th June, I’ve prepared all to these. Remember to make an appointment along with your documents to your local Finnish embassy to prove your identity, otherwise the application review process won’t begin. I showed up on 28th June, and got my permit decision on 14th July, just a little more than 2 weeks.

Permit Decision

The residence permit card eventually arrived on 24th July. That’s one month after I submitted the application.

Permit Collection

And of course you need to pick it up on weekdays. With that in mind, you could book your itinerary to Finland according to your schedule. It is recommended to arrive Finland at least one week before the orientation week, and get stuff done before your study begins.

Note: Starting from April 2022, we can now get an A-permit for being a student, as opposed to B-permit before the new policy came into effect. The residence permit application also comes with a Personal ID Code, which is formerly referred to as Social Security Number.

And well, things happen.

Incorrect Learner ID

Migri Typo

Welcome to Finland :)