Going to Aalto University for GEXP? Here is a quick guide to get you started.
Academic Calendar – Autumn & Spring
Aalto’s academic calendar is split into 2 terms, Autumn and Spring, which are further divided into 2 and 3 periods respectively. Autumn term is split into Period I and Period II where the teaching and examination period runs from September to mid-December. For the Spring term, it is split into Period III, Period IV and Period V which runs from January to June.
Application – Into & SISU
Into Aalto is a very important website one should visit before anything else. It gives you details from application to arrival to departure. You can also find the entire list of courses available (not all courses from Aalto are available to exchange students) under each period.
There are 6 schools in Aalto University:
- School of Arts, Design and Architecture
- School of Business
- School of Chemical Engineering
- School of Electrical Engineering
- School of Engineering
- School of Science
When applying to Aalto University, for Technology discipline (not Business or Arts, Design and Architecture), it is recommended to have 30 ECTs with at least 2/3 from the same school. For example, you can take 20 ECTs under School of Science and 10 ECTs under School of Engineering or you can take 20 ECTs under School of Science, 5 ECTs under School of Engineering and 5 ECTs under School of Electrical Engineering.
SISU website is where you can check the details on your intended courses such as assessment weightages, lesson schedule and exam dates. SISU is also where you enrol yourself in those courses. Usually registering for the lectures is sufficient as the examination is automatically included in the lecture registration but do check with the professor or coordinator regarding this. Do take note of the periods the courses are held in when applying.
Campus – Otaniemi
Aalto University has 2 campuses but the one you need to know is Otaniemi. Otaniemi is located in Espoo, which is easily accessible by metro (Aalto-yliopisto Station) and bus. Most buildings are open from 8am – 6pm and access outside these hours usually requires you to have access rights, which you can easily register the rights to your HSL card here.
Your HSL card also functions as a printing card in Aalto, where you can print up to 200 pages per quarter of a year. To register, simply follow the instructions here.
Restaurants and Cafés – Student Discount Meals
There are numerous food options such as Food & Co, Subway, Sushi Buffet, and Espresso House here in the Otaniemi so you do not need to worry about what to eat on campus. Most of the restaurants offer a student discount, allowing you to get your meal at 3.20€ (as of December 2022).
The student discount is given upon presenting your Kela card (ask for one during your orientation) or your Frank App student card (needs AYY membership – costs 30€ for the autumn term and 33€ for spring term). They change their menu daily, which you can see the summary of the menu here.
The Kela card is a physical paper card that you can get from your coordinator when you arrive in Finland. It is supposedly only valid on campus for the student discount meals but some places out of campus may accept it. The Frank App allows you to have a digital student card and is the official proof of your student status which allows you to have many discounts outside of campus that the Kela card usually would not be able to grant.
Aalto Space – Reserve Study Facilities & Otaniemi SAM Bot + Google Map.
The Aalto Space App allows you to book facilities for studying and group work. This is useful during exam periods when the campus gets packed or when you just need some place to relax before your next class.
Aalto Space also helps you to navigate your way around the campus. I found this really useful especially at the start of my term where I do not know where A bloc or Otakaari is at. It also helps find which level a specific room is at. The app is like SAM telegram bot + Google Maps for Otaniemi Campus.
Apps and Telegram Group Chats
Below are some other apps that you may find useful:
- HOAS (has a website too) – for laundry, dryer and sauna reservations under HOAS accommodation
- HSL app – for purchasing travel zone tickets and planning routes
- Kide app – for purchasing school event tickets
Below are some useful Telegram chats that you can join:
- Aalto’s International Chat – group chat for international students
- Otaniemi Marketplace – platform to sell or buy items
- Things Giveaway – platform to giveaway or take items for free
- Food Giveaway – platform to giveaway or take food for free