The faculty organisation of Biological and Environmental sciences – Biosfääri (biosphere) is an umbrella organisation founded at 2010. This yet quite young, but effective organisation is here for providing educational lobbying, activities and happening during the year and helping its member student organisations to keep in touch. Biosfääri is a multicoloured bunch of students from major subjects different kinds in the University of Helsinki. Most of our students are from the sciences related to biology and environmental sciences – but we really wish to meet new people all around the world and from all kinds of major subjects! Biosfääri’s “home” is the club room located in Biocenter 2. Come and have a cup of coffee with us anytime!

You can follow us on Facebook. Also check the event calendar in our website once in a while! If you find any questions or comments, please contact Biosfääri’s international representative  2017, Amanda Ranta.

The international survival guide below is meant to help international students of our faculty to adapt Finnish student life and University of Helsinki. The info here is mainly from Orientation Handbook (2014-15). The information may differ each year, so make sure that you get the most updated info by reading the newest Orientation Handbook. Also, if you’re a student from another faculty: you’re the most welcome to join our activities but please notice that some of these things may differ in your faculty!


First of all – congratulations and welcome to University of Helsinki!



Take a look at this masterpiece! From there you’ll find all the important information you  need on your way through Helsinki adventure.

HOUSING (=asuminen)

Apply for an apartment NOW (If you haven’t done so already). The housing in Helsinki is very limited. Here are some links to apply for an apartment in Helsinki:

Housing options of university nations: see more on their websites. List of nations is in Orientation Handbook. (Notice that you have to be a member of the nation to apply for these)

other opportunities: (not the cheapest ones…)

Oikotie (in Finnish)
HOAS flea market

Some good tips for housing:
– the living costs can be 700-1000 euros per month of which housing can be 400-600  euros
– if you get a housing offer – TAKE IT!!
– Beware of scams. If the housing offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t  ever send money or passport information on the open market before you have seen the  apartment and signed the contract.
– Cancel unnecessary applications.
– No apartment before arriving in Finland? Then book a hostel for the first nights here (and  do that early enough!) some links for that:Vuokrahuone.comStadion HostelCheap  SleepHostel Suomenlinnaand Eurohostel,

OR try couch surfing or traveler’s home.

– Contact the University of Helsinki’s Student Services ( if you have  difficulties to find an apartment.
– Wanting to find flat mates? Go  to or
– You can always try to contact the rent lords in English as well, no matter if the renting  adverts are in Finnish.

TUTORS (=tuutorit)

A tutor is a person who’s there for you to help get to know Finnish student culture better.  Tutor works as a link between you and the University. You have had a tutor contacted you during the summer. She/he will let you know when your tutoring group has their first meeting.  If you haven’t received any e-mail from your tutor, contact international representatives (listed below) or the international coordinator (


Make sure that you have enough clothes for Finnish weather (which can be anything between – 30 to + 30 Celsius degrees).

Get the health insurance. More info: > Health care. And for the  EU-citizens: remember to have an European Health Insurance Card.


Take a glance at here.


ORIENTATION PERIOD (=orientoiva jakso)

Orientation period is arranged to help new students get their things done. During the  orientation period, you will have a tutor guiding you and your group through the week. Always ask your tutor for the more detailed schedule of your Orientation periodHere’s the  summary of the period.  You will get all of your paper work done during the orientation period, also you’re able to get a travel card, order a student card, get to know the important places, get to know PEOPLE and you will have fun at the same time!

REGISTERING TO COURSES (=kursseille rekisteröityminen)

You will get your personal IT-account once you have arrived here. The enrolment to the  courses will be happening through the WebOodi system. More info from your tutor. You  can also try to contact to the professor of some specific course through e-mail, if the  registration time of a course has already ended or if you’re not sure whether you’re able to  join the course. All the courses you’re taking here in UH should be in your Learning  Agreement. In the problems all kinds: contact first. Some info here as well.

COMPUTING ACCOUNTS (=tietokonetunnukset)

You will receive your own personal IT-account during the Orientation period. If you face  some problems, check this page.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT (=julkinen liikenne)

Helsinki Region Transport (HRT, or HSL in Finnish) is an excellent public transport system!  As a student, you’re able to get a 50% discount. You will get your own travel card during  the Orientation period. Prices, time tables, journey planner and much more, checkhere.

STUDENT SERVICES (=opiskelijaneuvonta)

Opening hours and address over here.

STUDY OFFICE OF VIIKKI (=Viikin kanslia)

International affairs officer Virve Kahri
phone: +358 (0)2941 57567, e-mail:

Also check this.

LIBRARIES (=kirjastot)

Viikki science library is located in the info center Korona (Viikinkaari 11, the blue building).  The opening times of the libraries and addresses of other libraries, check here.


These programs are here to help you with the studies. The registration to courses, grades, credits and so on will be seen in WebOodi.Flamma is a virtual desktop, which can be customized suitable for you. Webmail is an e-mail working with your UH IT-account. Moodle is a place where you can get the slides from you courses’ lessons, keep in touch with the other members of the course and give/get feedback of the course. All of these are introduced you at the beginning of your studies.


STUDENT LIFE (=opiskelijaelämä)

Here in the University of Helsinki, the student life outside the University, is mainly based on the activities arranged by different organisations. You’ll find out that there are hundreds of student organisations working actively to gather students together and to improve the connection between faculties and students. The best way to adapt to student culture here is to take a part to different activities held, join the e-mailing lists (listed below) and to ask about these from your tutor!

ORGANISATIONS AND INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES (=järjestöt ja kansainvälisyysvastaavat)

The organisations listed below are members of Biosfääri. Biosfääri is a faculty organisation of Biological and Environmental sciences.

All the student organisations are a part of Student Union called HYY.

Student organisations are formed to slightly follow the lines between the different major subjects. But for real, it doesn’t matter what’s you major at studies, you can still take part to all of the activities! International representatives are the persons chosen from the organisations to look after the international side of each organisation. If you have some questions concerning the happenings, club rooms or other matters, you can always contact them! Their e-mail addresses will be mentioned after their name.

SYMBIOOSIsymbioosin logopieni

Symbioosi is a truly organic student organization aimed for mostly biologists, but we do welcome everyone from The Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences. As a student organization, we offer support in every realm of studying in the university as well as some nice balance for lectures and cramming for exams. The latter comes in the form of parties, trips, excursions, hangouts, sauna-evenings and clubs so we guarantee no bioscientist will be bored!

Being a bunch of biologists, Symbioosi has a lot of nature-centered action. Be it winter, autumn or spring, we often find ourselves wandering around in the city of Helsinki or somewhere in the fields, forests and lakesides of Southern Finland admiring the wonders of life (usually birds). Symbioosi’s relationship with nature isn’t all just walking around with hiking boots on our feet and binoculars around our necks, though. We also partake in nature conservation by donating money to conservation projects and organizing our own projects. Some of us also get a little bit agricultural with our own patch for growing plants near the Viikki campus.


Helix is the student organisation for cell biology and molecular biology students, also sometimes known as the darker side of biosciences. Come party with Helix at their crayfish party or crazy clubroom hang-outs in Biocenter 2. Here’s their facebook page.


Myy is the organisation for environmental sciences students. Myy organises for example excursions around Finland, a yearly home-made wine competition and trips to Suomenlinna. Myy has a clubroom in Biocenter 3 together with Symbioosi and SvNK. Read more: or join thefacebook group.


Natura is the organisation for environmental ecology students who mainly study in Lahti. So if you want to explore life outside Helsinki, check the facebook group or web page.

SvNK (Svenska Naturvetarklubben)SvNK

SvNK is the organisation for Swedish speaking biology students – however, anyone, regardless of nationality and mother tongue, is more than welcome to join their events. They share the clubroom in Biocenter 3 with Symbioosi and Myy, but also arrange events at Klubben in Kruununhaka, close to the city center. SvNK also organises different kinds of excursions, namely bird watching excursions around in Southern Finland. Check out more on their website or their facebook page or e-mail them on svnk-s(at) for more information.

CLUB ROOMS (=kerhohuoneet aka “kertsit”)

Club rooms are ”student living-rooms”, where everyone is welcome to join for a nice cup of coffee or just to hang around. Club rooms are usually belonging to each organisation above, so please follow the rules once you arrive to the club room. You don’t have to be a member of an organisation in order to come and hang out with the others! There are several club rooms in the Viikki campus area. There are club rooms for example in Biocenter 1 (Helix and Biosfääri), Biocenter 3 (Symbioosi, MYY and SvNK) and in A-house (MMYL – an umbrella organisation of the faculty of Agriculture and Forestry).

SPORTS (=urheilu)

Unisport offers excellent facilities to do sports with little amount of money. More info about Unisport over here. Also, there are great outdoor sport fields in Viikki.

IMPORTANT EVENTS DURING THE YEAR (=tärkeitä tapahtumia vuoden varrella)

The beginning of the semester is full of different kinds of happenings! Ask more from your tutor and follow the event calendars of organisations.

The time before Christmas is full of pre-Christmas parties.

On January the beginning of the semester parties are here with us once again!

On February the Shrove Tuesday (Laskiainen in Finnish) gathers students together to have a good time.

On May comes the biggest student celebration during the year – Vappu! On May 1st the whole Helsinki goes to picnic.

Of course there will be hundreds of events during the year. Follow e-mailing lists and social media for hearing out first from them!

E-MAILING LISTS (=sähköpostilistat)

E-mailing lists are useful lists, where you can join to catch up with the latest info. Important e-mailing lists to join are: (our faculty’s international e-mailing list) (the faculty of agriculture and forestry’s international e-mailing list) (the international e-mailing list of whole Universtiy of Helsinki)

and of course all the e-mailing lists from different student organisations (unfortuntately the mails in these are mostly in Finnish)






How to join an e-mailing list?

Send an e-mail to and leave the headline empty. Write to the text field: subscribe “the list you want to join” for example: subscribe, after that follow the info you receive!

How to leave an e-mailing list?

Do the same things as above, but replace the word “subscribe” with the word unsubscribe.

OVERALLS (=haalarit)

Overalls are important for Finnish students! All the colors of the overalls represent different major subjects. If you’re interested in having a pair of them contact the international representatives!

SOCIAL MEDIA (=sosiaalinen media)

You can find Biosfääri and other student organisations from the Facebook! “Like” us there and join to our groups! Also one important fb-group to join is Viikki International.


Symbioosi’s website

Helix’s website

MYY’s website

Natura’s website

SvNK’s website

UH New Students

UH Blog for new students



Looking forward to seeing you!