BEST Engineering Competition: Lifting to Higher Potential!! 16-27.8.2004, Helsinki, Finland.
Last updated 22.2.2007 by Anna Fernandez.
This Survival Guide is made to help those who are going to participate in our competition next August. This guide will not contain information regarding the actual schedule or learning content of the event (you will be informed on those separately later on) - instead we are focusing on how to get to and how to behave in Helsinki. We assume that people who read this guide are already familiar with the international Never-alone Guide for BEST events (http://www.best.eu.org/activities/nag.jsp).
Table of Contents
1. Arrival, departure and getting to Otaniemi
1.1 Using public transportation
1.2 Arriving by plane
1.3 Arriving by train
1.4 Arriving by bus
1.5 Arriving by ferry
1.6 With bus 102 from the centre to Otaniemi
1.7 Departure day
1.8 Arriving early or leaving late
2. General information on Finland
2.2 Money and prices
2.4 Finnish people
2.5 Finnish customs
2.6 Finnish language
2.7 Places to visit outside Helsinki
3. Practical information for this activity
3.1 What to bring with you
3.1.1 International evening
3.3 Food and drinks
3.4 Campus area and services
3.5 Night life
3.6 Course fee
3.7 About course programme
4. Contact information
5. Useful links
6. Map of the university campus area
The course will take place in Otaniemi, where the Helsinki University of Technology is located. Otaniemi is located in Espoo, a city next to Helsinki. It takes about 20 minutes from central Helsinki to Otaniemi by bus.
We are expecting you to arrive on Thursday 16th August from noon onwards. We need to know your expected arrival time and method beforehand, so please inform us immediately when you know them. Due to lack of cars, we cannot promise to pick you up from the airport/harbour, so you might need to take a bus to reach us. We will inform you about this personally after we know your arrival time.
Here are some general instructions about using the public transport at the Helsinki metropolitan area.
The capital region of Finland consists of three towns: Helsinki (where the main train and bus stations and all harbours are located), Vantaa (where the airport is located) and Espoo (where the Helsinki University of Technology is located). There are two kinds of tickets, local tickets (which allow you to use transportation within a given town) and regional tickets (allowing you to use transportation in any of the towns, and transportation from any of the towns to another).
Regardless of the type of the ticket, it allows you to use all kinds of transportation (bus, train, tram, underground) The local ticket is valid for one hour and the regional ticket for 80 minutes, so do not lose your ticket immediately after boarding the vehicle. You are allowed to change the vehicle during the validation period as many times as you want. The expiry time of the ticket is printed on the ticket. You can buy tickets in buses, trams and trains or from coin-operated machines located in the stations and some of the main stops. Regional ticket ("seutulippu" in Finnish) costs 3.60 euros and a local ticket (“sisäinen lippu”) costs 2.20 euros.
The departures of the buses towards Espoo are from Kamppi bus and metro station which is located few
hundred meters west from the Central Railway Station. Everybody knows it so you can ask on the street. Bus
numbers 102, 102T and 103 goes toward Otaniemi and goes frequently all the day long. You can also check any
route and maps from address http://aikataulut.ytv.fi/reittiopas/en/
Links to timetables:
102, 102T, (http://aikataulut.ytv.fi/linjat/en/s102.html)
If you have arrived by plane, you should arrive on the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. From the airport take the bus number 615 to the Central Railway Station (Rautatientori, the last stop) in Helsinki. The ride takes about 30-40 minutes and you will need the regional ticket. From the Central Railway Station you will need to navigate to Kamppi some 600 meters southwest where the bus 102 leaves to Otaniemi (see “Arrival by train for details”). (See figure 1)
Notice: we do not recommend taking the Finnair-bus to Helsinki, as it is more expensive than the public busses (5-6 euros).
If you have arrived by train, then you should be in the Central Railway station (“Rautatieasema”) in Helsinki . Now you need to get to Kamppi area some 600 meters southwest where the bus 102 leaves to Otaniemi. You can either take an underground or walk. (See figure 1)
To take the underground go inside the railway station building and follow the red “M”-signs (“Metro”) to the basement. Buy a regional ticket (“seutulippu”, 3.6 euros) from a machine at the “compass level” before entering the tall escalator. Take an underground toward Ruoholahti for one stop only to Kamppi station. Take the escalator up and you will find yourself inside a big commercial center, next to a supermarket. Now you are inside Kamppi bus station. Turn 180 degrees right, walk 50 m and you’ll see different doors with the buses that are leaving from there. You should be standing in the first door, at the platform 41 where the bus 102 leaves. The ticket bought from the underground is valid in the bus too.
To walk to the bus stop from the central railway station, follow Kaivokatu and cross Mannerheimintie to get to Simonkatu. Walk along Simonkatu upwards until you see on the right a big square with the entrance of a big shopping center that says “Kamppi”. Cross the square and get inside the commercial centre. Once inside keep on walking until you find platform 41, where the bus 102 is leaving.
If you get lost, either check the way on a map or ask locals for directions (ask for Kamppi underground station or for Kamppi).
Figure 1. From Rautatietori (A) to Kamppi (B).
If you’ll follow that drunken arrow you won’t get lost but you’ll get hit by cars.
Long distance busses (coming from other cities like Turku or Tampere) arrive to Kamppi. All you need to do is to find the right platform 41.
From the main harbour, the Katajanokka terminal or Makasiiniterminaali: the boats from Sweden and Germany and some boats from Estonia arrive in this harbour.
If you travel with Viking Line or Finnjet, take the tram number 4 or the bus number 13 from the terminal. From the Silja Line terminal, take the tram number 3T. In any case remember to buy regional ticket ("seutulippu" in Finnish, price 3.6 euros, from the driver), so that you can use the same ticket to get to Otaniemi. Get off the tram in front of Sokos department store. On the other side of the street you see a low white building, Lasipalatsi. The main bus station (“linja-autoasema”) is on the other side of the Lasipalatsi building. See the chapter 1.4 (Arrival by bus) for the instructions to get to the local bus 102, which takes you to Otaniemi. As an alternative it is only 20 minutes walk from the harbour to the main bus station (check the map).
From the Ruoholahti harbour: The most of the boats from Tallinn, Estonia, come to this harbour. Take the bus number 15 until Ruoholahti underground station (“Ruoholahti (M)”). Walk one block, 100 m, north below Porkkalankatu and find the bus stop on your left (west) side. Wait for bus 102. You need to wave for the bus to stop, it doesn’t stop automatically at every stop. You can also take the bus15A from the harbour to the main railway station and follow the directions at the chapter 1.3 (Arriving by train) to find the bus 102, but this takes a longer time than taking the bus 15.
Take the bus number 102 or 102T at the platform 41 from the Kamppi bus station until the last stop. The bus ride takes 15-20 minutes. If you do not have a valid regional ticket yet, buy one from the driver.
On university campus area we will be waiting for you at the basement of a red apartment building at Otakaari 20. This is the place reserved for our use during the whole course. To get there, once you get out of the bus 102 at the last stop, continue walking along the street (Otakaari) for about 3 minutes until the second red building on your left. Go to the inner yard where there are cars parked and take the closest stairs on the right down to the basement.
If there is no one at Otakaari 20, go to the Student Union office (“TKY sihteeristö”, address Otakaari 11). Continue walking along the same street (Otakaari) for about 2 more minutes until you see a building on the right side, with text "TKY sihteeristö" above the door. That is our student union secretariat, and we will be waiting for you somewhere inside.
There is also a number of other busses leaving from the Kamppi to Otaniemi. These busses are 103, 194 and 195. However, for your first ride we suggest taking 102 or 102T, and you will have the smallest chance to get lost in Espoo.
If you will for some reason arrive before the event begins, or you’ll stay later on afterwards, contact the organisers early enough, and we will help you to find accommodation. Those who arrive one day earlier (i.e. on the 15th August) will be already able to stay at the rooms that we have reserved for accommodation during the event.
Alternatively, if you want to enjoy a better location, you can stay at a hostel in Central Helsinki. The options are Stadion hostel (www.stadionhostel.com), Eurohostel (www.eurohostel.fi), Hostel Erottajanpuisto (www.erottajanpuisto.com) and Hostel Lönnrot (www.hostellonnrot.com). More hostels and other useful links can be found from event’s homepage (http://best.tky.fi/events/bec2007/helsinki.php) .
As a principle, we don’t arrange any program for the participants before or after the course dates. If you want to spend extra days in Finland, you have to arrange it yourself. Of course we try to answer all your questions concerning that and try to lead you to the proper sources of information.
Area: 338 000 square kilometers
Population: 5.2 million people
Capital: Helsinki (560 000 inhabitants)
Official languages: Finnish, Swedish
(native language to 300 000 people, mostly in the coastal areas) and Samish (not
official language) in Lapland (native language to 4000 people in Lapland).
Timezone: GMT +2 hours (CET +1 hour)
Formerly a part of Sweden (up to 1809) and an autonomous part of Russia (1809-1917), Finland has been an independent country since 1917. Finland is one of the Nordic countries (but geographically not part of Scandinavia) and situated on the very border of East and West in the cultural as well as geographical sense. Finland is a liberal, western democracy. Since the beginning of 1995 Finland has been a member of the European Union. Finland has female president, Tarja Halonen.
The main export goods are paper, metal products (including ships) and high-tech products such as electronics and communication equipment (especially mobile phones). Most well known Finnish companies abroad are Nokia and KONE.
For more information about Finland, visit Virtual Finland at http://www.finland.fi or find a good travel guide.
Finnish currency nowadays is euro. FIM - Finnish Mark (“Suomen markka”) is no longer used (but if you have some of those, you might have them exchanged for euros in the Finnish national bank (Suomen Pankki) that is located at Snellmanninaukio in central Helsinki, 1 FIM = 0,168 euro).
It is a good idea to have enough euros when you arrive. But if for some reason you are equipped with some more exotic currency (like Danish or Swedish crowns, UK pounds or US dollars), you may change money at most banks or at exchange offices (that have better rates). We recommend using FOREX, which has offices in central Helsinki (at the railway station, at Mannerheimintie 10 and at Pohjoisesplanadi 27). There is a FOREX office at Tapiola too, quite close to our university, but it is much easier to use the ones in the centre of Helsinki if you arrive via the centre.
Euros come in banknotes (valued at 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 euros) and coins (valued at 2 and 1 euros and 50, 20, 10 and 5 cents, 1 euro = 100 cents). It is good to notice that 1 and 2 cent coins are not used in Finland. The prices are rounded to the closest 5 cents in stores when paying.
The prices in Finland are quite high compared to most other European countries. Especially alcohol, cigarettes and transportation tend to be expensive. The amount of money you will spend during our event depends on your personal taste - we will provide you with basic accommodation, food and programme during the event. However, you might want to spend some money at least on souvenirs, snacks, drinks and nightlife.
Here you find some examples of the prices.
Food and snacks
Chocolate bar (200 g) 2 euros
Pizza 6-9 euros
Big Mac 4 euros
Cheap buffet (eat as much as you can) 7-10 euros
Bottle of Coca-Cola (1.5 l) 2.5 euros
Bottle of beer (0,33 l) 1 euro
Bottle of vodka (0,5 l) 8-9 euros
Bottle of cheap wine (0,75 l) 6 euros
Entrance fee (weekends) 5-10 euros
“Narikka” (jacket/bag fee) 1-2 euros
Beer in bars (0,5 litre) 3-5 euros
Other drinks 4-7 euros
Packet of cigarettes 5 euros
Regional transport ticket 3.6 euros
Taxi from central Helsinki to university 20 euros
Ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn 15-20 euros one way
Temperatures in Helsinki vary between -35 (coldest winter days) and +35 (hottest summer days) centigrade. Weather is somewhat variable, but in general summer is mostly sunny with occasional rain, autumn is quite rainy and on wintertime there is a lot of snow. Spring is quite sunny (but not necessary very warm). Being located on the coast, it is often a bit windy in Helsinki. June, July and August are considered being summer months in Finland.
Weather for this event: in later half of August it is almost autumn, daytime temperatures are in range 15-25 Centigrade, normally around +20. Nights and mornings can be quite cool. There is likely to be occasional rain.
Finnish Metereologigal Institute (http://www.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi/en/index.html) will tell you present weather forecast.
Finnish people are honest, hardworking and well educated. They might appear on first sight a bit shy or reserved, but once you get to know them they most often are really friendly. For some reason Finnish people want to give the foreigners an impression that they are strange and crazy people - and to some extent this is true.
Finnish people usually have a good command of foreign languages - at least all young people know decent English and at least basic Swedish, in addition to Finnish. Knowledge of German is quite common, and some people also know French, Spanish or Italian. Knowledge of Russian or Estonian language is rare.
In Finland, do as the Finns do. Finland is a well-ordered and well-organised country, where most of the people try to voluntarily follow the common rules and laws (even traffic regulations). Here we list a variety of more or less formal customs, phenomena and attitudes in Finnish society.
· Punctuality: being on time is considered very polite and indeed essential for the working of the society. Do your best to be on time, and Finnish people will be much more happy with you.
· Shoes: Finnish peoples do not wear shoes inside their homes or summer cottages. Also in the campus area there are a number of places where you are expected to take off your shoes when you enter (especially the saunas).
· Smoking: smoking is very much regulated in Finland. Smoking indoors (including staircases, basements, corridors, toilets etc.) is generally forbidden (with the exception of most bars and night clubs, and even those have some non-smoking areas), as well as smoking in public transportation and smoking close to open doors or windows. In the campus area smoking indoors is forbidden everywhere.
· Sauna: Finnish people are very proud of their saunas, and are very happy to introduce you to them. Sauna in Finland is a part of everyday life (most Finns go to sauna at least once a week). Going to sauna is very relaxing and not dangerous for your health. Finnish people go to sauna naked – wearing swimming suit in sauna is considered uncomfortable.
· Nakedness: being nude is considered relatively natural in Finland, and people are less reserved about it than in many other countries. This doesn’t mean that you will normally see naked people running around the city (except perhaps students at night time, especially at campus area), but people normally go to sauna naked, even with complete strangers, and swimming naked is relatively common.
· Silence: Finnish people are not very talkative with people they do not know. Even amongst friends, periods of silence are not rare and are not considered uncomfortable.
· Coffee: drinking coffee is very popular amongst Finns (though not necessary on the morning). However, Finnish coffee is not very strong compared to more southern European coffee.
· Salmiakki: a small, black candy that Finnish people find very tasty and enjoyable. It exists in many variations, and might require some time getting used to. Salmiakki could be described as a kind of a salty licorice.
· Crime and honesty: crime is relatively low in Finland, thefts and pick pocketing are relatively rare, and being outdoors at night time is very safe. If Finnish people behave violently, it is usually towards people they know (including themselves – Finland is famous for high suicide rates) and most often happens under the influence of alcohol. Lost property is likely to be returned to a police station. Still, don’t be totally careless with your property (at least in central Helsinki) as there can be some less honest people around.
Finnish language is part of the Finno-Ugric family of languages that also contains Estonian language (that has a lot of common vocabulary with Finnish), Hungarian language (very different vocabulary from Finnish) and about dozen of other small languages. Finno-Ugric languages are very different (both on vocabulary and grammar) from Indo-European languages (Germanic, Latin and Slavic languages), and they are very difficult for foreigners to learn - Finnish people claim that their language is one of the most difficult ones to learn in the whole world. Luckily to you, Finnish people have a good command of foreign languages (especially English).
Below we have attached a short vocabulary for you to practise. Finnish pronunciation is completely phonetic - every letter is always pronounced exactly the way it is written. Finnish language has two letters that are not used in English alphabet - ä (pronounced like the a in English word “damn“) and ö (pronounced like the e in English word “the“). In pronounciation there is a slight stress on the uneven syllables (first, third, fifth and so on). Don’t worry about grammar - it is too complicated to explain here.
Greetings and polite words
Hi! Hei! (or “Moi!” or “Terve!”)
Excuse me anteeksi
Thank you kiitos
See you näkemiin
Good morning hyvää huomenta
Good night hyvää yötä
Cheers! Hölkynkölkyn! (or “kippis”)
Basic useful words
More useful words
Bus linja-auto, bussi
Bus station linja-autoasema
Ferry terminal laivaterminaali
Railway station rautatieasema
Regional ticket seutulippu
I love you! Rakastan sinua.
I am… Minä olen…
Missä on vessa/bileet? Where is the toilet/party?
A beer, please. Yksi olut, kiitos.
I am a strawberry. Olen mansikka.
Eat me! Syö minut.
You have a nice ass! Sinulla on hyvä peppu!
Words for practising pronounciation
Dating night intention riiuuyöaie
Wedding night intention hääyöaie
Provincial institute for the care of criminally insane lääninvankimielisairaanhoitolaitos
If you are looking to spend more time in Finland, here is a list of some places that might be interesting to visit:
For more information on traveling in Finland, try borrowing or buying a good travel guide (like Lonely Planet, Rough Guide or something else).
· ID (passport if coming from outside Schengen area, or going to Tallinn afterwards)
· Sleeping bag (if you are planning to sleep without getting cold)
· Suitable clothes (see above for weather)
· A bit more formal clothes (like suit and tie) for the company excursion and Sitsit dinner party
· Travel insurance (or E113 form if coming from within European Union)
· Pocket money for the bus tickets, souvenirs and such
· This survival guide that you are reading now
· Good mood and BEST spirit
· Towel, toothbrush and other toiletries
· Swimming suit (in case you don't want to swim naked)
· Slippers or woolen socks (useful on the cottage trip and indoors)
· Something representative of your home country for the International evening (see below for details)
Not so compulsory
International evening is an evening when the participants will present their own countries and cultures for the others. The participants are expected to prepare some food typical for their country. So don’t forget your recipes at home! You can bring sweets, drinks, music, drinks, flags, drinks, special clothes etc. as well. Did we mention drinks?
There will be cooking facilities available. We will arrange regular ingredients for you, but if you need some special ingredients, you will probably need to bring them with you while we probably don’t have them available in Finland (at least not with a decent price). If you are in doubt whether something will be available in Finland or not, just ask the organisers beforehand. Do not bring any food that won’t preserve well - the international evening will be roughly at the middle of the event.
The accommodation will be arranged in the university campus, close to the university. We have reserved a couple of big rooms with beds and mattresses for sleeping. You need to bring your own sleeping bags (or a blanket). Please be aware that these rooms will be quite crowded and that they are not the most comfortable ones available – but on many nights you will not have too much time for sleeping anyway. There won’t be wardrobes or closets for storing your equipment. There will be toilets and showers in the rooms or on the corridor next to the rooms.
In addition, we will have a big room in the campus (close to the accommodation rooms) at our use at Otakaari 20. There will be more showers available (as well as sauna in the evenings). Breakfast and dinner will be served there, and our private parties will be held there too.
It is possible to wash your laundry in the campus area. But keep in mind that there are plenty of other people also using those washing machines, so you might not always be able to find an empty machine at a time convenient for you. Our program is also quite active and it might be hard to find time for the laundry. It’s better to bring as much clothes as you need.
On the weekend we might head for a cottage somewhere in the countryside or go camping in the forest with tents. Be prepared for that with warm and water proof clothes. NOTE: On BEC2007 we’ll go to cottage.
We will provide you with breakfast (arranged by the organisers), lunch (in a student canteen) and dinner (most of the time cooked by organisers) during the whole event. On some nights there might be some night snack reserved for the real party-animals. If you want you can try to contribute to the cooking on some evenings – and on the international evenings everyone gets to cook.
The food is going to be typical Finnish student cuisine. Breakfast probably contains porridge, corn flakes, bread (often made of rye), cheese, cucumber, yoghurt, milk, tea and coffee. Lunch in student canteen contains a single dish of meat or fish with sauce (also vegetarian and lactose-free food is always available), potatoes or rice as garnish, and salad. Soups and all kinds of starters and desserts are not served on normal lunch or dinner, and water is a typical drink with meals.
Lunch on weekends and dinner every day will be cooked by the organisers, and will consist of various examples of Finnish home cooking. They will consist of various simple stews, casseroles and oven cooked dishes featuring meat or fish and vegetables. Many of these dishes will be something that you might not have been used to – real cultural experiences!
If you have a special diet (vegetarian, lactose-free, allergies, not eating pork etc.), contact the organisers in advance to make sure you will get suitable food – we will try to do our best if we know about your needs.
Tapped water is not only drinkable but also of a very high quality in the Helsinki area. Don’t bother to waste money on bottled water.
Alcohol stronger than 4,7% is sold only in special stores (“Alko”) and in licensed restaurants and bars.
The Helsinki University of Technology (HUT), founded 1849, formerly located in Central Helsinki, is now situated in Otaniemi in Espoo, just outside Helsinki. It is biggest and highest ranking university of technology in Finland. There are around 12000 student enrolled at the university. The university has a big library (open 8-16 o’clock during summertime) and a lot of computer labs at Maari (24h/7, we hope to arrange passwords for you).
Next to the student union office, you can find two grocery stores, bank, kiosk, post office and a hairdresser/barber. If you are interested to find more shops, you will either have to go to Tapiola (located within walking distance from the university – around 2 km away) or to central Helsinki.
The campus area tends to have a lot of parties going on during the lecture periods, but on summertime it is pretty quiet. People who are interested in more active nightlife would do well to go clubbing in central Helsinki (going to central Espoo is not recommended). However, be prepared for the relatively high price level.
All places have age-limits (at least 18 years), and you need to have an ID to prove your age to get in. Even if there is no entrance fee, there is often a fee for leaving your jacket and bag in the cloakroom (narikka) - you are not allowed to bring them in with you. Sometimes you get this fee charged even if you don’t have a bag or jacket with you. The doormen at the bars and clubs in general are not known for their friendliness.
By law, the nightclubs are forced to close latest at 4am. Most of the pubs close earlier. Serving of alcohol stops half an hour before the place closes. The last busses usually leave sometime between 1am and 2am. In addition, there are some night buses with an extra fee until 4.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.
A detailed schedule will be available on the course web page closer to the event.
All the parts of the competition and company excursions in the programme will be compulsory for all participants. This means that you should be present in time and in sharp condition. All the other parts of the programme during the event (including meals, evening and weekend programme and sleeping) are optional. So, if you want you don’t have to participate in them. But the organisers will try to do their best to ensure that those parts of the programme are as enjoyable as possible, so it is not recommendable to miss many of them. But if you are skipping some part of the programme, please inform organisers about that clearly so that they will know that you won’t be participating.
Also, there will be some free time reserved in the schedule that you can spend in whatever way you want.
Student Union TKY (Sihteeristö)
Here are numbers for some (not all) of the organisers:
http://kartta.hel.fi Map of Helsinki
http://www.hut.fi Helsinki University of Technology
http://www.hel.fi/English City of Helsinki
http://www.finland.fi A lot about Finland
http://www.sauna.fi The basics about the sauna culture
http://best.tky.fi/ Local BEST Group Helsinki
Check out our website (http://best.tky.fi/links.php) for more useful links.
More detailed version of the map can be found at http://www.tkk.fi/Current/otaniemi_map.html
Some explanations for some of the numbers on that map:
1. TKK MAIN BUILDING - Otakaari 1
17. MAARINTALO, The Maari Building - Sähkömiehentie 3 - Learning Centre (open 24 hours)
19. DIPOLI - Otakaari 24 - Lifelong Learning Centre Dipoli and canteen
20. SHOPPING CENTRE - Otakaari 11
38. YTHS - Otakaari 12 - Student Health Care
39. TF - Otakaari 22 - The Student Union of Swedish speaking students and canteen
40. TKY - Otakaari 11 - The Student Union