Skrillex, Nightwish and Waltari, welcome to Finland, land of heavy metal, saunas and open-air festivals! It’s the youngest country in Northern Europe. In 2017, the country celebrates its 100th birthday: the first person to tell me that I’m old at 34 is going to get a kick in the teeth! Doing an internship in Finland means discovering Father Christmas’ homeland near Rovaniemi. It’s also a chance to see the Northern Lights, the great lakes and Lapland. It’s a chance to strap on your ice skates and give it your all on the frozen lakes, or even go Formula 1 racing with Mika Häkkinen’s son. In short, there’s plenty to do in Finland, provided you have a bit of a budget, because it’s still relatively expensive. Finland is a really nice country to discover: it’s a radical change from what you might experience in France, so you don’t need to go to the other side of the world to get a real intercultural kick. The habits are very different from here, and so are the temperatures: you can get temperatures that would put a professional gym to shame. But before you set off on your work placement in Finland, it’s a good idea to get some information, and we’re here to give it to you: don’t hesitate to read this short blog, to get an idea of the budget and what you can find during your work placement in Europe, to make sure you’re going to the right destination.

The budget for your work placement in Finland

The country is relatively expensive for the average European #DESO, so you’ll have to break the wallet. So you need to budget around €1,100 a month to live in Finland, and enjoy a *minimum*. Accommodation is the most expensive part of the budget; when I was studying in Mikkeli, I paid €700 for a room in a shared apartment, but it was quite well located, just a few minutes’ walk from the centre. I was in the MOAS, the equivalent of the CROUS. There are cheaper flatshares, but they’re still very expensive. In Finland, it’s really the easiest way to find something at a decent price. Shared accommodation is a good way of sharing costs and making a group of friends quickly when you arrive in the country. Internships are generally short (you’ll realise that once you’re here!), so the sooner you meet people, the sooner you can have fun and make the most of the country!

Food is expensive, and let’s face it: it’s not great. Well, I’m not going to criticise everything, but on the whole, I haven’t been to a single restaurant where I’ve had a good time, and supermarket food can sometimes be very unusual. For example, the Finns have a whole section in their supermarket dedicated solely to fish in tubes, like toothpaste, but it’s fish: very special. To each his own, after all ? If you’d like a quick overview, you can read our blog devoted to culinary specialities in Finland.

Transport, on the other hand, is not excessive! And you can do quite a lot, especially with a student card: you’re entitled to discounts on ferries, national buses and trains. And for a small budget, you can visit a friend who’s doing an internship in Tallinn in Estonia, or go to Gdansk in Poland or visit Turku, Rovaniemi and the other towns in Finland. For more details on your options, please consult our blog “I’m in Finland: where can I travel during my work placement abroad? “.

What you need to know

Before your work placement in Finland, you need to be aware of two things that are specific to Scandinavian destinations. Firstly, in winter, it’s daylight for a maximum of 4 hours a day, and the sky can be grey for several days – I’ve had 21 days in a row without seeing the sun – and I say wallah! – ! In winter, it’s very cold, down to -40° in the inhabited areas, and to all those who say “yeah, it’s dry cold, it’s fine”: well, it’s not at all, it’s not at all when you go outside under minus 40, dry or not, you’re freezing your buns off. That said, the country is very pleasant to live in. Trust is the watchword in the country and the inhabitants are respectful. The country is calm, gentle and, above all, quiet: in winter, there is relentless silence from 8pm onwards. Summer, on the other hand, is much livelier, with major electro and heavy metal festivals: if you like that, this is clearly THE European destination to go to. After April, when the positive degrees start to return, the tone changes: naked swimming in the lakes, fish barbecues all day long, short drinks on the terrace and music festivals every weekend. I hope you like rock: to get an idea, listen to Finnish ‘NRJ’ and compare the difference!

As I said earlier, the key word is trust: kids playing outside without adults, babies waiting patiently in pushchairs outside supermarkets or bars, keys left in the ignition even at night… All these little habits create a sense of serenity that I don’t find at all in metropolitan France, and it’s very pleasant. It’s quite confusing at first, especially seeing pushchairs with kids but no adults, but in fact people know that their babies aren’t going to be taken away, so they leave them outside while they do their shopping. The first time I saw this, I had no idea it was done, I waited a good twenty minutes for someone to come and collect the baby ah ah.

Another anecdote: in Finland, people are very fond of ice cream, even in winter. They’re often sold individually, not in batches like in France, and the kids get their best ice cream at snack time while you feel like dying because it’s so cold. What’s more, despite the very positive points, for a long time the country had a particularly high suicide rate: little light (like pitch black from 4pm to 10am), cold… but today, the suicide rate has been halved, and the country is becoming the champion of happiness, like its Scandinavian comrades!

Your work placement in Finland

All our placements are tailor-made. Finland offers a wide range of internship opportunities in a variety of sectors. Ecology, architecture, design, culture, mechatronics, tourism and marketing are all well represented in Finland.

Before applying, make sure you have the budget to cover the cost of living in Finland. Doing an internship in Finland is great, but you might as well be able to live there and take advantage of its wonders: visit Rovaniemi, go and see the Northern Lights in Lapland, take a ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, take a bus to Sweden or even take a weekend to visit Norway!

As far as your internship abroad is concerned, you always need to build a project that is a compromise between :

  • Your desires: it’s important to enjoy yourself, and to choose what you want to do, taking into account what you already know how to do, and what you want to learn; because an internship is not a job, it’s for training and developing your skills.
  • Educational expectations: your school, whether at secondary or higher education level, has specific expectations when it comes to agreeing your work placement abroad; and while some schools are rather flexible, others are very firm, so you need to consult your referent teacher to find out where you stand.
  • Your language level: the better your English, the higher your requirements and expectations. But, for example, don’t ask us to manage a company’s social networks unless you have at least a B2 level in English. To assess your level, you can log on directly to the ERASMUS platform: academy, free of charge.

Convinced you want to do your work placement in Finland? Would you like some more advice, or do you have any questions? Are you hesitating about other internship destinations in Europe, and would you like to talk to someone? Don’t hesitate: you can register directly on the website, it’s free and there’s no obligation. Someone will call you back, and together we’ll work out your plans for an internship abroad!

For more general questions, visit the International Horizons Internships Abroad FAQ.