Moving to another country is always exciting! It can also be confusing if you don't know anything about the local culture and functions. This list is to help you a little bit!

Here are some basic things about Finland (and Tampere), that you might or might not know about:

1. Greeting and meeting

In Finland, unlike some other European countries, kissing on the cheeks doesn't exist. A handshake is a very common way of saying hello, in formal and also informal situations. Even young people might shake hands if they're presented to each other. Often a smile/nod plus saying hello is enough to be polite. A neutral way of greeting someone, for example in a shop, is "Hei!" (pronounce as "hey" in English).

Finnish people are usually very punctual. If you agree on meeting someone or if an event it set to start at 8pm, it means at 8pm sharp.

2. Sauna

In public saunas people normally wear swimsuits, except in swimming halls. There, there are separate saunas for men and women. The only time when men and women go to the sauna together naked is with family members (depending on the family) and with friends (depending on the friends). It's common especially in some student sauna evenings in Hervanta, but for example in FINT events we wear swimsuits :D

3. Shoes inside?

Always take off your shoes when entering a Finnish home! And leave them by the door. Especially in spring and autumn shoes get so dirty that no one wants to walk around the livingroom with them on. An exception is a fancy party / formal event.

4. Doors

Doors automatically lock when you close them: the outside door of your apartment and the door of your room, if you leave at TOAS, for example. So don't leave your keys inside! In every door, there's also a little button that you can move up/down to make the door stay open.

5. Transport

We have one train company, Students get a discount. Using busses, for example for going to Helsinki, is very cheap. In Tampere, the public transport is very handy. You should get a travel card, because without it one trip is quite expensive.

6. Nightlife and going out

You will need an ID when you enter a bar/pub or a nightclub. A driver's licence and passport are valid IDs. A student card or residence permit are not accepted. In autumn and winter the doormen also require that you wear proper clothing = your outdoor jacket when entering a club. Even if you live close and want to leave your jacket home to avoid the cloakroom fee. It's better to do things properly on the first time, or you might find yourself not getting in the club at all.

In Finland, you usually pay your drinks and snacks before eating them. In "proper" restaurants where they serve you at the table, you only pay afterwards.

7. Alcohol and smoking

In Finland, you can only buy beer and cider in normal supermarkets. All other alcoholic drinks are sold in Alko. All of them also stop selling the latest at 9pm (and start again at 9am). It's also good to remember your ID when buying alcohol!

Smoking is not allowed in public buildings. Also remember to check the rules in your accommodation (ex. TOAS), because usually smoking is not allowed.

8. Empty cans and bottles

Don't smash them or throw them away!! Return the empty cans and bottles to a grocery store or Alko and you'll get money. There are machines for this purpose in almost any grocery store.

9. Recycling

Organic waste (leftover food etc.) is collected separately! Usually almost every building also has own containers for paper, glass and metal. "Sekajäte" or "energiajäte" then means all other waste that doesn't have a container. Empty batteries you can take to some grocery stores, they very often have small boxes for them. In Tampere, electronic waste (broken gadgets etc.) can be taken to Gigantti (a store that also sells electronics), for example. For additional information, see

Also clothes, furniture, home appliances and similar are recycled in Finland. You can buy cheap second-hand stuff iusually in good condition at numerous second-hand stores in Tampere called "Kirppis". Also, University of Tampere has a recycling room where you can find some useful stuff  left there by the international students who left Tampere. You can also leave clean, useful stuff in good condition for the incoming international students next semester. 
You can leave: bed sheets, bed linen, dishes, cutlery, lamps, clothes, shoes, electronic appliances etc.
Do not leave: Groceries, hazardous waste, broken electronic appliances.
The recycling room is in UTA Main Building E105 in (E-wing) - check out this picture and this video how to get there. In case it's locked, ask someone in the offices around if they can open it.  

And finally, don't hesitate to ask more from us or from your Finnish student tutor(s)! It also helps when you ask around your fellow exchange students, because everyone usually has the same problems or questions in mind, so someone probably knows (someone who knows) the answer! laugh