US to Finland. anyone?



I'm not sure if any of the previous people who used this thread are still following it, but I'm going to give it a try as I have nothing to lose.

I am actually hoping to live in Finland someday, working as a nurse. I am going into my first year of a four-year nursing program here in the states. I was wondering about the expenses, because I have posted questions on here before where people told me that any international program would be through-the-roof-crazy-expensive. How did you finance your situation? The woman in Finland said she was able to study the language for free as an immigrant "I was lucky, because we could afford for me to just go to language courses 6 hours a day, 5 days a week - it was free here and social services here give immigrants an integration benefit for the first 3 years as long as they are doing something (like interning or school)."

As well as this you also stated that college-level wasn't a struggle to pay: "Now I don't know about Germany, but in Finland higher education is open to everyone for free and it's really, really high quality (actually consistently ranks higher than the US in education scales, I think). All you have to do is pay for your books and as long as you are progressing at a reasonable pace in school, you get a student benefit every month. It's not much, but it's enough to rent an apartment, live and eat without having to worry about money (especially if you have a husband who is working - then it is more than enough). And there's always help if you get in a financial struggle. It's not like the States at all here - no one lives on the streets and there's always help if you need it; people are taken care of here."

Is this the case because you were married to a Finn, or, this is standard for all immigrants?

I am very interested in any input. Finland sounds like an amazing place to live - I feel as though it holds more of the "American Dream" than America does today - it is very progressive in human rights and education. I've done a lot of research and I am confident that I could be happy living there. Learning a new language doesn't scare me, and neither does the "midnight sun". If anyone knows anything about this topic, I would love to hear from you.

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Silverdragon102, BSN

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Moved to thread on its own to gain more appropriate responses


691 Posts

My sister is in her last year of university for her nursing degree in Finland. All ofthe benefits you're talking about do exist, but they are not easy to qualify for. If you wish to study in Finland they will let you, but you have to prove that you either have the money saved to pay for your housing/expenses or that you have someone to support you financially. The student stipend is only for Finnish residents, not just anyone that can fly into the country for school.

You will not be able to work and go to school, because you HAVE to speak Finnish to get a job. I hate to point out how difficult it is, but the only reason my sister qualified is because she got married. After she got a divorce she barely convinced then not to revoke her residency status because she hadn't yet started school.

Your best bet is to look at what programs they offer, and there ARE English speaking RN programs (my sister is in one), but you will have to find a way to pay for it. It is a very expensive place to live without any government aid. Those taxes go towards a huge social welfare program that won't benefit you until you start working.

Good luck!


4 Posts

Thanks Irobinson5. That is what I have noticed myself from looking online and viewing other threads from this site. The fact that someone had an easier time shocked me, so naturally I wanted to know what she had done.

If your sister is studying over there, would you mind if I asked you a few questions about it? Such as:

Which university did she pick out of all the ones that offer the degree in English, and why?

How is she maintaining her residence permit now?

How is she paying for the expenses?

Where does she live, as in, what type of housing? Does her university have student housing; did they help her locate an apartment or anything?

How does she find the people there? Was she able to gain new friends fairly quickly? I have read that Finns will keep to themselves mostly, but if you try to encourage conversation, they are friendly.

Lastly, does she intend to stay in Finland? If yes, what calls her there?

Again, thanks for confirming what I thought about the difficulty and expenses. It's nice to know that someone is still there despite all the obstacles, too.


691 Posts

Amber nurse, sorry for the delayed response. That was my point about her being there despite difficulties. She ONLY is there because they reviewed her case and made an exception. When she got divorced she had not been in the country long enough to have residence and was not yet in the nursing program, nor is she fluent in Finnish. My point is, how she pays for it doesn't matter, because they will not extend the offer to a non-resident. You would have to prove you could pay for school and expenses before they approved you to stay in the country for school. Not that I am advocating it, but gaining residency through marriage seems to be the only way you can really get into the social welfare system (if you are from another country of course). They do offer political asylum, but coming from the US it doesn't help at all.

Anyways, to offer a little more clarity, here is it point by point:

Which university did she pick out of all the ones that offer the degree in English, and why? --There was only a few that offered English RN programs, she picked the one closest to where she was living at the time.

How is she maintaining her residence permit now? --They made an exception for her once to enter the program, and since she has maintained enrollment at the school every time an appeal comes up it makes it easier to stay. At ANY time they can change their mind and deport her, she has no official ties to Finland.

How is she paying for the expenses? --Since she is a resident she has a KELA card (social welfare that all citizens and residents have), and they pay for student living expenses and tuition is actually always free for residents and non residents. *More on that below.

Where does she live, as in, what type of housing? Does her university have student housing; did they help her locate an apartment or anything? --She lives in an apartment, and universities do have dorm rooms and shared apartments. I don't know if you have kids, but that wpuld change where you would be able to stay. Also, they didn't have a lot of assistance finding a place.

How does she find the people there? Was she able to gain new friends fairly quickly? --It is not as friendly as the US, but she makes friends with people she takes classes with. MANY people experience extreme culture shock. They do not even ask 'how are you?' at a coffee shop, etc. There are many formal niceties in the US that do not carry over to Finland.

*The following website provides information about obtaining a residence permit for going to study: Income requirement - The Finnish Immigration Service

"A secure income means that you have a sufficient income to fund you and your family’s stay in Finland. You can have income from, for example, employment, private enterprise, own capital or pensions. The level of income is calculated from your net income, i.e. income that remains after tax and employer’s and employee’s pension and insurance contributions."

So you would have to prove that you had around 7000 euros in your bank account to even try to apply for a permit, and it is 6,000 more per family member if you were going with a spouse or child. Then once there you would have to get a job (which apparently you CAN get with no Finnish) and the jobs you would be eligible for are intense manual labor/cleaning type jobs. It would be difficult to maintain the income requirement while going to school full time, but it can be done. In addition to the income requirement, I believe you still have to have proof of health insurance (this I am not 100% sure of).