Survival Guide from a Spanish in Oulu

3.1.2017 ::

The Spanish Maite Alaez Guergue, 18, publishes her Survival Guide to Oulu on our Facebook page. She is a first-year student studying Information Technology at Oulu UAS. On this page, we have collected her tips to foreign students on how to get the most out of the Oulu experience.

SURVIVAL GUIDE from a Spanish in OULU
PART 1: Get to know me. A way to Oulu.

Hey there, I'm Maite, a pretty normal Spanish girl. I like playing basketball, painting, and I love music. As I said, pretty normal, right? I'm a first year student at the Oulu University of Applied Sciences in the Information Technology degree and I was considered crazy the moment I told my friends and family that I wanted to study in Finland. But you know what? This is amazing!!!

I'm not going to say it was easy, but so worth it. Just doing the entrance exam was an experience. I went to Germany to take it (exams are not held in Spain) and I got to visit a new city in Europe. The day I got an email with the acceptance letter I was the happiest girl in the world. I can't say the same thing about my mother though. But she got used to the idea of me leaving pretty soon;) Don't be afraid of leaving people back home, communication is so so easy nowadays. I don't say you won't miss your friends and relatives, but it can be handled.

Oulu is a great city. I know what everyone is thinking: "aren't you freezing there?". I'm Spanish, used to the heat, and I can still survive here. So if I can do it, everyone can, trust me. I know it sounds hard, the idea of living in another country, with a different culture and language but here english is everywhere and you get used to the way things work here in a few weeks.

Stay tuned to the following posts coming in this serie that I named Survival Guide from a Spanish in Oulu:) I'll talk here about the food, apartments, services (gym, transport), university, student events, what to do in Oulu...I hope this can be useful for new students coming here in the next years. See you soon!

PS. Here is a picture of me and my father in Germany when I did my entrance exam and some more from Oulu:)

Maite Aláez Guergué xx

#oamk #oamk_ouas #maitealaez #SurvivalGuideOulu

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SURVIVAL GUIDE from a Spanish in OULU
PART 2: Student apartments in Oulu.

Hey there again! We are back with this survival guide. Apartments, a very big concern for students coming here. If you are a first year student don't expect getting a studio apartment for yourself (that's an impossible task), but shared apartments are great:)

The best way to get an apartment, in my opinion, is contacting PSOAS, an organization in charge of the apartments for students (that's how I got mine). But let me tell you all this: APPLY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!! That's the best way to get the best apartments;) I live in Tuira, a really nice area in Oulu, 10 minutes away walking from the city center and 20 minutes by bus from the university. If you think that's too far for you there are also a lot of apartments closer too. I have my own room with a bathroom and also my own fridge! How amazing is that? I'm living with two finnish girls. Both of them extremely helpful and super nice:3

Apart from that, all PSOAS buildings (as far as I know) have their own laundry room and storage rooms for tenants:) You just need to reserve a turn and you're good to go! Now, I saved the best part for the last. At least it has been great for me. These apartments have a very very very very very nice clubroom!!! WOW you can't even imagine how much I've used it with all my classmates and friends here. It's like our sanctuary. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but yeah, we've used it A LOT! and in the coldest days it's nice to have a place inside to gather with your friends:)

I don't know about others, but I'm a little bit nosey so...here you have some pics of my apartment. Take also into account that u need to buy your own furniture, but there are some nice second hand stores around so don't worry about it too much!

Maite Aláez Guergué xx

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SURVIVAL GUIDE from a Spanish in OULU
PART 3: What to do in Oulu. Student events.

Hey people:) I'm sure you all wonder: what can I do in Oulu when I get there?

Well, apart for the well-known Air Guitar Championship, the city of Oulu has a lot more incredible festivals to offer. The last one that I went to was the Light Festival (this year called Lumo) celebrated at the end of November. I went to an exhibition of which you can see a picture here.

When I first came here I didn't know what to expect of such a small city (in comparison with the ones I'm used to in Spain). But it has a lot more that it seems. Also, us, students, we like to party don't we? I thought the nightlife in Oulu wasn't very good. I mean, aren't you all thinking: hmm...Oulu, cold, dark...does anyone go out? Yeah we do. Student events here are a huge thing. So many and all of them so so good. Here I'm posting a picture of me and two of my classmates when we went to a Student's Halloween party and me wearing my trusty overalls, which are a statement in almost every students' closet. You get different patches and you sew them to the overalls. And then you wear them to all the events. Cool, isn't it?

Not only night events but there are also a lot of games and trips organized by the Student's Union. For example there was an event to meet new people and play a game around the city. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the games, but here you have a pic of the afterparty held in one of the night clubs of Oulu of me and a friend. And even a trip to visit Santa's Village!! Welcome to the Arctic Circle!!

And also, just the opportunity to meet new people from all over the world and go out with them is just so freaking good. You can go out and grab a coffee in Valve (the cultural center of Oulu), go and play billiard, go for a walk and admire the view, eat with friends, cook with them and just enjoy your student years and make the most out of them:3

Maite Aláez Guergué xx

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SURVIVAL GUIDE from a Spanish in OULU
PART 4: Public Transport.

Hello fellow students! I'm here today to give you information about the public transport in Oulu. If you're already studying in Oulu or you will do it soon, I'm sure that you know that in Oulu bikes are a must (I don't have one though so for those out there who don't like or don't know how to ride a bike don't worry). And there are A LOT of second hand stores where you can buy one! There's even a Facebook group called 'Oulu Sale Point' where many people sell their bikes very cheap in case you want to join it.

Now, for those who are like me and don't really like bikes or they're very sensitive to the cold: buses work great. Anytime of the year. Bus tickets are a little bit expensive but, here's a good advice: you can buy a 30 days bus pass for 42€ (that's the price for students) and use it all the time! 42€ per month seemed like a lot to me but I'm saving so much money with it:) You can get yours in Oulu 10. Look it up in maps:) It's in the city center. There are many bus lines and even if you lose one you'll have another in no time.

Oulu also has a bus and a train station if you are interested in going on a trip with your friends and explore Finland.

Actually there's not much to say

SURVIVAL GUIDE from a Spanish in OULU
PART 5: How to cope with the cold and darkness.

Okay, Finland, Oulu = cold, very cold; and dark, very dark. But here is the thing, the first day I got here one of my classmates told me: there's nothing like too cold weather but bad clothing. And she was right. If you don't want to feel the cold you just need to get some good winter boots and a winter coat and then cover your hands and head. That's it. Oh, and wear two pants. Yeah, that's a very important one. I got my coat and boots in a shop in the city center called Stadium. But I must admit that I wasn't looking for the cheapest option

And a tip to cope with the cold is to prepare yourself for the upcoming cold. Get used to the chilly feeling in the autumn, so you would not feel so cold in the winter. If you bring out all the heavy gears for autumn by the time you get to winter point, no amount of clothing can keep you warm. Not to mention too much clothes and you can't move really well in the snow. Come on, you all came to Finland to feel like a real Finnish! (which means rolling naked in the snow after sauna and wearing ripped jeans at -20, too).

The dark is not as bad as it seems. You need to be very careful though. It's hard for drivers to see pedestrians from the distance, so you surely need to wear some reflectors. You can wear them on your pants, coat or backpack. The more you wear, the better. Be a glowing star;)

Good luck to everyone.

Maite Aláez Guergué xx

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SURVIVAL GUIDE from a Spanish in OULU
PART 6: Food in Oulu.

It's 11:30 and I'm super full. Why? Oh, because I always take more than what I can actually eat in the university's canteen. I mean...the food is just 91 cents! I swear, after classes it feels so good to eat and doing it for that price feels even better. You enjoy the food more just because of that. I'm sure this is very relatable for all the students here

On the weekends, unless I have to study a lot, I don't usually go to the university so let's talk about supermarkets here. There are a lot. Cheapest option: Lidl. But there is also S-Market, K-Market, Prisma... where they sell also foreign food. And I feel like wherever you live you have one next to your place.

If you want to go out for lunch or dinner is kinda expensive, but there are a lot of options: Mexican restaurants, pizzerias, more fancy-looking places, of course McDonalds, Burger King, there's even a Spanish restaurant! So if one day you feel like going out and spending a little bit more money you'll eat some good stuff.

There are a lot of things that I used to eat in Spain and they don't have them here, but food here is good. I don't like some of the things and in Spain I was used to eating my father's food so...of course I don't eat that well here but that's only cause I'm pretty lazy and i don't really know how to cook. But if you're a good chef I'm sure you will be able to imitate dishes from your country:) I have a vietnamese classmate and she knows how to do it. She has sent me some pics of the food she got to make here and they all look so good!!! Wow

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SURVIVAL GUIDE from a Spanish in OULU
PART 7: Sport.

Healthy life in Oulu, very easy to achieve. There are many sport centers in the city that have gym, swimming pool... And of course, if you are a student you get a lot of discounts! There's also a sport pass that you can get and you can join many activities (karate, swimming classes, boxing...) a lot cheaper! And you can use it to go to some of the gyms here in Oulu.

There are also students' gatherings to play volleyball, basketball and football during the week:) You can go whenever you want, have a good time and make some new friends. And those are free. You just need to go there and join a team!

If you like snow sports you can go skiing. Some of my classmates went together to a ski resort near Oulu and they really enjoyed that. It might be more expensive than any of the things mentioned above, but sometimes it's nice to do something different

And what I really like but unfortunately I found out too late to join this semester: salsa classes! yeah, SALSA!! Sorry, I love dancing and I get too excited I know. And not only that, they have salsa nights every Tuesday and you can go there and just dance. #amazing Even though I'm not in the classes I'll go there and give all I've got;)

Maite Aláez Guergué xx