Welcome to Joensuu!
Joensuu is a small, but lively city with many students thanks to its two big educational institutions: UEF (University of Eastern Finland) and KUAS (Karelia University of Applied Sciences). Joensuu may seem a bit small (or even dead at times!), but as you will discover, it has many hidden gems that all add to its charm.
Joensuu, literally translated "the mouth of the river", is the capital of the region of North Karelia in Eastern Finland. Joensuu metropolitan area has a population of around 76,500 inhabitants and it is about 440 kilometers away from Helsinki. Joensuu was founded in 1848 by Nicholas I, Czar of Russia, but people have navigated through Pielisjoki river for trade for many centuries. This river has always been a central part of the city both for business and leisure purposes. Nowadays, the city is seen as a Finnorussian business hub.
Because of its remote location and being far away from pretty much everything, Joensuu is a very safe place to live: the crime rate is low and people tend to look out for each other. Clean environment is definitely one of the best things about this area – nature is very accessible and there seems to be lakes and trees wherever you look. The four seasons are very visible in this corner of the world too – if you stay here for the whole year, you will witness this with your own eyes. The autumn colours are simply stunning, the winter snows will make you feel like you are in a frozen wonderland and in spring nature wakes up again after a long break, and this too has its own magic. Summer in Finland with the nightless nights and the midnight sun is something we probably do not need to even mention.
People in Joensuu and Finland in general may seem a bit cold at first, but just give them time and patience. Almost every Finnish person is able to speak English, but they often feel too shy to do that. Finns are maybe a bit slow to warm up, but once you become friends with a Finn, you will probably have a friend for life! Perhaps you could make this your aim: make a Finnish friend! It is all too easy just to hang out with other international students, the real challenge lies with getting to know the locals. We dare you try!
Educational Institutions and Student Unions
There are two institutions devoted to tertiary education in Joensuu. The first and bigger one is the University of Eastern Finland (Itä-Suomen Yliopisto). The UEF has two campuses, one in Joensuu and another one in Kuopio, with around 15,000 students altogether. The other institution is the Karelian University of Applied Sciences (Pohjois-Karjalan Ammattikorkeakoulu) with roughly 4,000 students.
Finnish universities are of good quality and usually take a significant amount of foreign students. It is advisable to sign up for the Student Union of the corresponding institution, as it entitles you to get student discounts and gives you access to some university-related services and benefits.