As an ex-international student in one of the most prestigious universities in Japan, I do feel the support provided by Finnish universities is very different and impressive.
When I was in Taiwan and preparing for coming to Japan, my only connection to Japan is the professor of the university. Certainly, the professor will not help me settle in here in Japan. He doesn’t have time and this is not his job. There is almost no any support from the office of the universities as well.
As a result, no matter you can speak Japanese or not, you need to do everything by yourself to settle yourself in a new country, such as finding a senior international student who is from your own country before your arriving, moving from the airport to the temporary accommodation, negotiating with the apartment agency, registering yourself in the local government system, register yourself in the university, etc, and these processes are all basically try-and-error with insufficient information on internet since most information on the internet is in Japanese language.
Of course there is nothing surprising that an international student has to handle with everything by him/herself since “studying abroad” is a typical process of being completely independent and this process can also be considered as an exciting and important process of “studying abroad”.
However, even just some simple support from a local staff during the first week of a foreign student’s coming can make the new life in a new country starts easier.
I don’t know what’s happening in other universities in Finland, but I did received useful information and know a great tutor system in the university I am going, the University of Jyväskylä.
First, what was included in the useful information?
Along with the letter of admission, 2 booklets of International Student Guide and City Guide of Jyväskylä, Quick Guide for international student, a map of the city and a map of university campus were attached.
By reading the 1-page quick guide, it’s easy to know what I should do now and the priority of every task. Everything will just be fine if you do all the tasks on the list (applying for accommodation, applying for study visa, applying for Finnish summer course, etc), which makes the direction clear in handling with things within an uncertain situation.
In the 63-page International Student Guide booklet, everything an international student needs to know is all included, such as the overview of the university, the important date for registration, orientation, etc, which is from how to study in the university to how to have a good life in the city, even including the features of Finnish people!