How do international students see Kuopio? A Dutch perspective

Kuopio is a city many international students are not familiar with before their arrival.


Kuopio is certainly not as famous as Paris and London, and not as known as Helsinki and Rovaniemi are. Kuopio is however a little hidden gem, and what we have heard from international students studying in Kuopio, everyone is enjoying their time here. Of course life abroad never comes without challenges, but overall Erasmus students seem happy with their life. The biggest challenges are generally related to the darkness in the winter and the always changing Finnish weather.


We wanted an insider opinion and thought it would be fun to share a real Erasmus experience with future exchange students.  This is why we asked a couple of questions from Gooitzen, an international business student from the Netherlands, who spent around 5 months in Kuopio in Fall 2017. 


He is now revealing his secrets on how to survive the winter and finding the best bars in Kuopio!


Hello Gooitzen, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?


My name is Gooitzen, a 21 years old business student from Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. I arrived in Kuopio in mid August 2017.




What was your first expression of Kuopio?


I didn’t really know anything about Kuopio. I mean, in Finland, Helsinki is more known and a destination more likely to visit. That was for me a reason to visit another city, like Kuopio.


My very first impression about Kuopio was that it was really different.  The city is similar to where I come from (Leeuwarden), but it is less crowded.


I didn’t experience any bigger cultural shocks because the Finnish ‘way of life’ is pretty much the same as the Dutch way of life. Except for the cold weather and the darkness!


How would you describe your exchange semester now? Did you enjoy it?


There aren’t enough words to describe my semester in Kuopio. All I can say that it was one of my best choices I’ve ever made! I have done and learned so much in Kuopio.


The people I met, the atmosphere, the activities I’ve attended, studying and the trips to other foreign countries like Sweden, Norway and Estonia. 


Going abroad as an Erasmus student is more than just studying. You are able to meet people from the whole world, for me, this was an eye opener. You learn so much from other people and besides, you make a lot of new international friends. 


I must admit that I was a little bit scary in the beginning but excited for sure. After all, I don’t have any regrets and I wish I could stay a little bit longer.


What do you consider as the best thing in Kuopio?


I have to say the people I met made my semester unforgettable. The opportunity to meet new international friends is one of the best things that happened to me in Kuopio. 


Besides, Kuopio is a great city with lovely people. Kuopio is not too big but just perfect in size.  You have great bars and awesome parties. But the the people with whom are you sharing your experiences with, is certainly the best part.


But if i have to summarise the best thing(s) in Kuopio, I would say Kuopio itself, the international students, the environment, the possibility to do activities and the parties.


Is there anything you don't really like in Kuopio?


I liked everything in Kuopio except the rain. 


The rain however stopped quite early as it was freezing and therefore we had a lot of snow! And I really liked that, the snow.


In addition, the darkness had a noticable impact on me. I really liked it somehow because it is different compared to where I come from, so I embraced it every second. 


But, due to the lack of sunlight I felt more tired and less appetize. I am not a sleeper and here in Kuopio I was sleeping pretty much. I found myself taking power naps quite often.


If you want, could you share a memory with us?


My first experience with Into Experiences was their sauna boat trip.


I went to this trip with a couple of friends - I was determined to take this trip because it seemed really fun to me. In the end, the saunaboat trip was good fun indeed: the sauna, the hot tub and jumping into the cold Finnish water.


After the sauna boat experience, I went to Lapland with Into Experiences a couple of other international students as a small group (9 people). 


I'n pretty sure that this is one of the best experiences in my life. We had some very nice activities planned. We drove up to Skibotn in Norway, had a dip in the Arctic Ocean and we went to a sauna there. The next day we went to the husky ride. It was all very beautiful, the ride, the dogs and the landscapes. We also drove on a snowmobile on the last day.



Now that I am writing this, it puts a smile on my face. Thinking about the fact that  I went to Lapland with very nice people.




Another good thing about Into Experiences is that they take into account with our budget and personal preferences regarding to the activities we did.


In the end I didn’t feel like a customer but I felt like a valued friend. It sounds a little bit crazy but it’s the truth.



I would like to thank Into Experiences for making this trip unforgettable and Tuukka for taking good care of us.






There are a plenty of new exchange students arriving in Kuopio after Christmas. Can you give a couple insider survival tips for them?


Absolutely! Let me summarize the most important things that you should know:




Puikkari, Ale Pupi, Passion, Apteekkari and Nousu


Survival tips: 


Dress properly, especially when you are going to Lapland. Temperatures can variate from -15 degrees to -25 degrees depending on what time of the year you go.


In Kuopio, a decent winter jacket with a sweater will do. 




I really liked Amarillo and Pizza Tori. There are some other restaurants but can’t remember the names. The one with the viking hats was fun (editorial note: this restaurant must be Harald).




Thank you so much Gooitzen for your responses! 

We hope everyone is having as much fun in Kuopio as he did.



More info about our upcoming trips:

- Into snow shoe and smoke sauna experience 23.1

- Into Lapland road trip experience 4-8.2



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