Finland is a part of Scandinavia and sits directly between Russia and Sweden. With a climate similar to that of New England or the Great Lakes region, this Nordic country has cold, snowy winters, but warm, beautiful summers. Legend has it that you may see Santa Claus with his reindeer in the winter. During the summer the sun shines for 15 hours a day in the Southern region, and in the Northern region the sun shines 24 hours a day for almost 2 months. From its location, Estonia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Russia are each a short ferry or plane ride away. Finland’s extensive air, boat, and bus network make it easy for students to enjoy traveling in the region.
Finland won its independence in 1917. In World War II the country was invaded by the Soviets and lost some territory. But after a few years of economic downfall, Finland bounced back and has consistently been ranked as one of the best countries in the world in quality of life. However, since the country enjoys such a high standard of living, one can expect things to be a bit expensive. Finland has one of the most competitive economies in the world, similar to the U.S. There are several major businesses located here, such as Nokia. Finland’s educational system is also top notch. English is widely spoken and understood, and many collegiate classes are conducted in English.
Finland is known for its liberal, egalitarian society. Men and women share almost equal societal roles. This is particularly noticeable in government. The current president of Finland is a woman: President of the Republic, Tarja Halonen. In fact, Finland was the first country to grant women full political rights. Though Finland is a rather homogonous society, there is a large Swedish speaking minority as well as the indigenous Sami of Lapland in the North. The Sami have a rich and colorful culture that they are currently fighting to maintain. They are a nature loving people who thrive on textile art and reindeer herding.
The capital of Helsinki has a lot to offer young people. There is plenty of nightlife and shopping to keep anyone occupied. You will notice how seriously Finns take their vacations. Finland shuts down for the summer months, when most Finns can be found at their summer cottages. One in four Finns owns a summer cottage, and this break from work and school is treasured by Finns. The Finns also take saunas very seriously. For a country of 5 million people, there are almost 2 million saunas across the land. Finns enjoy bathing in the sauna and then jumping into an ice cold lake or rolling in snow afterwards. You can then explore the largest archipelago in Europe. With tens of thousands islands of the southwest coast sailing is a favorite pastime, and some of the oldest forms of architecture in Finland can be found on these islands. As a study abroad student in Finland, you will have the opportunity to enjoy everything that Finland has to offer.