moi and welcome!

On behalf of the Department of Art and Media, and ARTS Tutors, welcome to Aalto University! We are so excited to meet you in the fall. During the next few months we will be here to help you with starting your studies and getting acquainted with each other, the school, and the city & country .

We understand that many of you will be coming from abroad and other parts of Finland. Many of the tutors have been through the same experience so we will be available for advice and support during preparations for moving here and for getting yourself settled into Helsinki/Espoo.

We’re here to help you, so please reach out with any questions or just to say hello too. You can ask us things such as questions about Finland or Aalto, housing resources, local businesses, cultural norms, or help with directions from the airport.

There are so many links and resources you will encounter in the next little while, and it can be exhausting. Just pay attention to this provided list of important admin tasks and you’ll be in good shape. Please reach out either in the social media chat or by email and we will help you with any confusing parts.

Join the Telegram Group 2022-2023 HERE. This is the group to stay in touch with the tutors and fellow new students in the Department of Art and Media (DAM).

Your Tutors 2022-2023

Carlos D. Perez – New Media Design and Production

Ida Budolfsen – Game Design and Development

Marija Šumarac – Sound in New Media

Panu Luukkonen – Sound in New Media

Veera Kemppainen – VCD (Visual Communications Design)

Teemu Ullgrén – ViCCA (Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art)

Yujie Zhou – Photography

Katie (Kathryn) Ballinger – Tutor Responsible

Coming to Finland

Many / most things here are done by phone, especially before you have a digital ID and it’s customary to charge per minute (usually very little) for phone calls to customer service, so make sure you account for that when thinking about your phone bill. Also many places offer callbacks, so make sure to turn your phone ringer on so as not to miss their calls which can be from a private number. They have hours of opening for the phone lines. Also, usually service points and businesses have number systems where you take a number to be served.

Residence permit (Before Arriving, for Non-EU Students)

The residence permit is an important document before arriving in Finland for everyone coming from outside the European Union Area. If you have never lived in Finland before, you should apply for a student residence permit.

On the website check all the requirements before application, and submit it as soon as possible! Your residence permit is an important first step for your move to Finland.

Registration with DVV after arriving (needed for ID card and student discount)

If you are coming from outside the EU it’s important to get a bank account for Digital ID as it’s very difficult to access services without it. It can take a long time to get appointments and you may have to go multiple times. 

For registering after you arrive, you must show up in person for your DVV  appointment for outside the EU and inside the Nordics. For those coming from inside the EU you can register online.

Registration (international students): If you are coming from abroad, you will need to go to The Digital and Population Data Services Agency (formerly Maistraati/Migri or DVV) to register your address in Finland. EU and non-EU citizens will have to register, but non-EU citizens will have to apply for a residence permit before they arrive in Finland because without that document they will not be able to register.

It would be good to book an appointment before you are arriving to Finland because waiting time for registration can be around 6 weeks, and you will not be able to open bank account or to get student discount for public transportation.  (you can also change your appointment to an earlier date if someone else drops out, so keep an eye on the website). You will then be asked to come in person with your Passport, Study Certificate (and Proof of Permanent Address if possible) and residence permit if you are coming outside of the EU. You will be asked how you will support yourself while studying. It is important to consider that there are no student loans for maintenance costs, so it’d be an idea to arrive in Finland with as much money as possible to cover you while you find a job or other means of income. So be sure that you apply for a residence permit as soon as possible and book your appointment for the date when you come to Finland!

ID card (needed for bank account)

An ID card is important for people coming from outside the EU, it’s required for opening a bank account and you want to get this ASAP by walking into the police station in Espoo or Helsinki and submitting a form for one. It’s possible to book an appointment, or if you walk in early in the morning it should be quick. You will need a photo, so if you don’t bring it with yourself, you can take a picture in police station (10-15€) and the ID itself is ~60€

Banking (needed for Digital ID)

It is strongly recommended to have a bank account in Finland. Through a bank account you will be able to digitally verify your identity for a lot of services in Finland (booking appointments, paying bills, and login to services). When you are in the process of opening it is important to mention that you would like to have ‘strong identification’ and you need that finnish ID card (residence permit is not enough). In case you want to deposit cash, ask the bank for that service. There are cash automats around the city, mostly in shopping centers – 

Popular banks in Finland:

(recommended credit union) OP


Danske Bank: 


Have in mind that you will need to book an appointment. Process of getting a bank account could take 1-4 months. Book your appointment in advance, also before you come to Finland, but be sure that before that you have an appointment in DVV, because you need to prove to a bank that you are in process of registering your address. 


There are certain thing that you need to pay in order to access student services, healthcare and so on.

Pay the Kela Fee

This fee is for the student’s health care and is mandatory. There is a penalty for late payment so be sure to pay close attention to the deadlines. This will give you acces to the health service YTHS (Finnish Student Health Service)


In case of life-threatening situations, call 112.

FSHS, the Finnish Student Health Service provides you with healthcare if you have paid your student healthcare fee to Kela. To get an appointment, you can call the following numbers Mon-Thu 08:00-15:00 and Fri 08:00-14:00:

General and mental health services 046 710 1073
Oral health services 046 710 1085

Students and researchers who have a place of domicile in Finland are entitled to all public healthcare services. More information here.

Find your local public health station:


Pay the AYY & Student Associations Fee

This will grant you your study right and access to all the other Aalto associations. You’ll get info about this during the summer. Try to get a Study Certificate or Receipt from paying AYY Student Association Fee on paper and have it verified and stamped by Starting Point in Otaniemi campus, it will be very useful later. 

You should pay the student associations fees when you are registering as an attending student in the OILI service. If you didn’t pay, you can find information on websites of student associations about how to do it. More on student associations further down.

ID card (needed for bank account)

An ID card is important for people coming from outside the EU, it’s required for opening a bank account and you want to get this ASAP by walking into the police station in Espoo or Helsinki and submitting a form for one. It’s possible to book an appointment, or if you walk in early in the morning it should be quick. You will need a photo, so if you don’t bring it with yourself, you can take a picture in police station (10-15€) and the ID itself is ~60€

Sim card / Phone service

Having access to a phone for calling is highly recommended as some appointments or business matters can only be handled by calling them. Here’s some phone companies that offer different services. If you don’t have a bank of digital ID it’s very difficult to get a subscription, so prepaid is the way to go for the first while.,,,

Student Discount Card and/or App

Student Discount Card – you should have a card or app that you can identify yourself as a student. You will not be able to get student price lunch in a student restaurant if you don’t show your card/app to the cashier. You should download the Frank app and fill in your data so that you will be able to get your profile. One more option is that you can go to the Frank website and find information to order a Student ISIC Debit Card and Student Bank Account in association with Danske Bank; this is very useful if you don’t have a bank account in Finland and it is completely free unlike most other banks in Finland. You might have to go in person to a Danske Bank in Finland to open this account, but it is worthwhile. If not then you can still find info on Frank about ordering an online Student ID on your phone which is completely free.

Tax Card

Finding a job in Finland can be very difficult if you don’t know the language. Aalto offers academic and research positions for those with the correct qualifications so definitely look there for something in your department/line of work. Aalto also offers positions for the various shops in Väre so keep an eye out for open spots. If you can’t find anything in Aalto then keep your eyes and ears out for job fairs around Helsinki and Espoo, especially ones that include agencies looking for part-timers and English speakers. Fafa’s, Aussie Bar, and Helsinki Airport Lentoasema generally try to hire English speakers so try handing your CV to them.

Once you have a job you’ll need to get a Tax Card from Vero, involving you calculating your expected income for the year and then calculating how much tax they will take from each paycheck. You will need your passport, residence permit, contract if you are working somewhere and bank account number. 

You can check requirements on their website: 


You can pick up the HSL Card from Central Railway Station/Rautatientori. You’ll need to bring your Passport, Study Certificate, residence permit (non-EU) and you should be registered at DVV. In the case that you are in the process of registration, you should bring the document from DVV that you are in the process of registration. It is recommended that you acquire an HSL card before your studies begin as this will be both your travel card and your electronic key pass for most doors in Otaniemi Campus. Once you acquire your card you need to go to the information desk at Väre campus and get identified as a key pass. At the HSL office they will explain to you in more detail about how to use an App or card, and what you should need for that. There’s also more info in the Resource Guide below about public transit. 

Public Transport HSL Card

The public transit includes buses, trams, metro, and ferries to Suomenlinna in the capital region.

It’s preferable to buy a 30 day pass with a student discount, which as of this moment costs 35.90 € / month (AB or BC zone). Students get a 45% discount so be sure to register yourself at DVV so that you don’t have to pay a lot.

You can buy individual tickets or day passes from ticket machines (most railway and metro stations) or R-kiosks, but these don’t include the student discount and will in the long run be really expensive. Day passes are less expensive than individual tickets.

With an individual ticket you have 80 to 110 minutes to change to any other public transport depending on the ticket you use. It’s allowed to complete your journey using the same ticket if it’s just valid for even one minute when you board the vehicle.

On blue buses you need to walk through the front door and show your HSL card to the reader, or the ticket in your HSL app to the driver. On orange buses, trams and metros you don’t need to show your ticket if you have a season pass, but use the card reader if you are using individual tickets.

There are four regions: A, B, C and D. Most people need AB region tickets which allow you to travel to most of Espoo including Otaniemi and the whole of Helsinki region. If you live in Vantaa or further away in Espoo you might need ABC or BC tickets. The HSL website / app tells you which ticket you need for your journey.



This is probably the most important thing you’ll need to be able to study. There are student associations available to apply for student housing (AYY and HOAS), private market websites, and several group chats to look for sublets and roommates.

Student housing can take a little while to get, so apply early! If you can find a roommate to apply with, those applications get better priority. Single apartments can take up to a year to receive, so consider this when applying. 



AYY Emergency Housing (If you don’t have a place lined up) 

Most apartments come without furniture, unless otherwise stated. This means no bed, and oftentimes no lighting fixtures, yes, the ones in the ceiling. Every student housing has a room with washing machines and dryers, storage, storage for bicycle and sauna. That all is usually included in your rent. On the housing website, you will find out how to book machines. When you are moving out, you are to clean your apartment otherwise you will not be able to get your deposit back. If you are locked out, it is 50-60€ to be let back in, so be careful about where you leave your keys! 

Private Market Housing

Oikotie  makes the biggest sector for private market rental housing. They have an app too to download. For shared apartment / communal living Facebook groups are quite an efficient way to reach out by just putting up your own ad for example.

Tori –

Oikotie –

Vuokraovi – (mostly same as Oikotie)


Telegram Groups: 

Otaniemi buy/sell: 

Giving away free stuff/otaniemi: 

Leppavaara buy and sell: 

Find Furniture and Supplies for your Home

Second Hand:

Recycling centers

Otaniemi Recycling center


Marketplace websites:


Sharetribe Aalto

Social Chats or Groups:

Otaniemi buy/sell:

Teekkarikylä buy/sell FB

Some of the shops where you can find everything you need are Prisma, K-market, Clas Ohlson, Tokmanni, and IKEA

School Services

You will then need to register for your Student Account. You should receive an email from Aalto with instructions on how to do this. Having an Aalto account means you can access:

Into (course description, program info etc.)
Library Web Portal
Aalto Takeout (equipment lending)

Starting point of wellbeing offers students advice and guidance on services related to wellbeing

OILI is an enrolment and registration service for students




Student Associations

Student associations are an important part of your University experience. They are there to support you through advocacy, student housing, social events, equipment lending and renting, and many other things.

AYY – What is AYY? Aalto University Student Union AYY represents approximately 14,000 Aalto University students of arts, design, business and technology. AYY advocates for its members and offers them student apartments and services. All students pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree at Aalto University are members of the Student Union. Exchange students and doctoral students can also become AYY members if they wish. 

TOKYO – it is a student association of the whole ARTS department which includes all programs on DAM.

DADA is a student association founded by students of the Media Lab Helsinki of Aalto University. Programs that belong to DADA are New Media, Sound in New Media, Game Design and Photography. (website will be updated soon) 

There are many other associations both inside and outside the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, feel free to check them out here: 


Some more things that could be useful for you.

Cool Places to Visit (WIP)

Frank occasionally offers student discounts on tickets so you can take a trip to the old city to see sights and various art events and come back to Helsinki with some relatively cheap booze.



Nuuksio national park



Grocery stores: Alepa, KMarket, SMarket, Prisma, Lidl (cheapest)

RKioski in Väre offers student discounts on coffee and pulla and loyalty cards; this will be your life source for 9am lectures.

There are also international shops dotted around the city including: 

Kalinka: Russian, Estonian, Balkan – Itäkeskus 

Thai Orchid Market: (Thai, Asian) Itäkeskus, Kallio

Dos Tescolotes: (Mexican) Kallio

Behnfords: English and American candy and sweets) 

Free food giveaways telegram group:


We dont encourage anyone to drink alcohol, and consumption should be done in a safe manner.

Alcohol is expensive in Finland. You can buy beer and cider (max 5,5%) in normal shops like Alepa and K-Market etc but everything else is sold by Alko which has shops all over the city.

There are less expensive areas in Helsinki to buy alcohol such as Hakaniemi and Sörnäinen, but you’ll still have to pay upwards of €40 for a half decent bottle of Cognac. To add to this, all alcohol sales stop at 9pm, so you need to stock up before the party.

If you’re looking for cheap drinks, try checking out boat trips to Tallinn, Estonia via Viking Line, and buy drinks there. 


There are loads of student restaurants dotted around Otaniemi campus and Helsinki. If you show your student card in any of these, you can get a meal for €2.60. If you are studying in Väre, there is ABloc which does amazing burgers every Friday or Wicked Rabbit and Kipsari that has amazing vegetarian and vegan options. Find students restaurants around your location on

If you want something more lux there is also a Fazer Café and a Sushi Restaurant/Buffet.


Plug adapters for your country are expensive and difficult to find here, try to buy them before you come. It’s a European style plug.

It’s possible to exchange your driver’s license for a Finnish license, your home country’s driver’s license might be fine for up to 2 years.

Prisma, Citymarket – big chain markets f

XXL, Stadium, Intersport – Sport store chains

Clas Ohlson – Home supplies  

Verkkokauppa at Jätkäsaari – all the electronics, computer, phone etc related stuff you need

Ready to go!

We hope this letter was useful for you, but if you have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to reach out to any of us.

We’re eager to meet all of you after the summer and we will be sending you more info about the various events we have planned.


Much love, 

The Aalto Department of Art and Media Tutors