Whether you are a student who is looking into going to Finland or just curious to see how international placements in Finland go, I will try my best to give you the information that I would have liked to know before I left.
I left for Helsinki on the 2nd of January 2008 and arrived the following day. Normally, there is a tutor from the school there to pick you up and take you to your apartment. It is very interesting to step off that plane and hear only the Finnish language, but there are many people in Helsinki who speak English, so never be afraid to ask for help from people on the street. In my experience, if they do not speak English, they will try their best to help you or point you in the right direction.
In regards to the work, I was fortunate enough to go for three months. I highly suggest taking the opportunity to go to Finland for three months versus six weeks. It takes a while to get adjusted and so I thoroughly enjoyed being away for three months. It really felt like the right amount of time. I found the hospitals to be fairly similar to those in Canada. However, you have to take into account the language barrier and that you will likely have a hard time getting used to not being able to communicate directly with patients. All of the nurses and other staff that I worked with were wonderful and so helpful. They all went out of their way to help me so that I could have the best possible time and learn as much as I could.
I highly suggest trying to make friends with as many Finnish or other international students as you can. The last thing that anyone wants while being far away from home is to have no one to talk to. My school, Stadia, also had a group that organized activities for international students to attend so that they can meet other students. I also think that it would be fun if you can convince one of your nursing friends from home to come along. I went by myself, and would definitely think that it would have been a completely different experience if I had someone else around that I knew from home.
It would take me too long to tell you everything about Helsinki, but I think it was one of the best experiences ever. I think that an international placement is a great opportunity to grow as a nurse in a different way than to just stay in Canada. If you choose to go to Helsinki, my best advice is to just have fun and to take opportunity of every experience that comes up to you, especially any trips that are planned.