Although Jyväskylä in conviniently located for traveling, there is also a lot to do in the town itself.
From Jyväskyä, you can travel all over Finland and beyond. Take a day-trip to Tampere or Ähtäri Zoo, weekend excursions to Stockholm or Tallinn and maybe even a more adventurous journey into Lapland or Russia. But before you embark on an odyssey away, remember to explore the various activities on offer right here.
Whether you are an international degree student, out of town Finn or a temporary exchange student, your first port of call should be the Tourist Information Office, located in a pink building on the corner of Vapaudenkatu and Asemakatu in town. There you will find an array of brochures and booklets detailing places of interest as well as listing seasonal activities from boating to snow boarding.
The University of Jyväskylä offers a great many sporting activities to students for a small fee per semester. University Sports offers various classes such as aerobics, body pump, yoga, and balletone. There is also a gym that is currently located in Kortepohja due to the renovation of the L-building. The schedule for classes is found on the university website.
Martial arts and specialised dancing classes are offered as short courses also through the University Sports. A variety of ball sports are also on offer, with informal playing times and the opportunity to join a friendly team. The university also offers numerous winter activities such as snow boarding, skiiing and ice skating and all activities are available for beginners.
Do not feel limited to university activities. Vivien Baduat, from France, participated in outdoor climbing, rollerblading, and salsa dancing during his time in Jyväskylä. Sara Kolomainen, a Finnish student, enjoys running, swimming, trekking, snowboarding, cycling, and ice-skating. Many of these activities such as rollerblading, cycling and ice-skating are enjoyed on an individual basis by people with their own equipment.
”I don’t participate in many organised sport activities but rather create my own schedules and destinations with my friends”, Kolomainen says.
There are numerous tracks in and around Jyväskylä used by cyclists, runners and rollerbladers during the summer, easily located on a city map. In the winter, many lakes and school playing fields are converted to ice rinks where one can skate for free when not in use by the school. The Jyväsjärvi becomes a giant skating and skiing facility in the winter too! There are also many nature trails through the forest such as the Sippulanniemen luontopolku starting near the Keljo golf-course.
Baduat feels that during his time in Finland he was as active as back home.
”Definitely as active – maybe a bit more because everything is so close”, he says.
”There is plenty of stuff to do here for sure! But it is sometimes lacking organisation. For example, there is no way to rent climbing gear, and it is expensive to have to buy your own”, Baduat adds.
However, if you are wanting to take part in an activity not organised by the university and you require a team or assistance, a message posted on the FS-News list will usually answer all your questions via the student network.
The ESN trips are a highlight for many students in both semesters. These trips are planned by an agency taking of everything, from accommodation to visas. Fiona Nolan, an Irish exchange student, went to both Lapland and Russia.
”They were both wonderful experiences. Lapland was great because of the breath-taking scenery, seeing the Northern Lights and trying out new activities like ice fishing. But there is so much fascinating history to both Moscow and St. Petersburg. I enjoyed both these trips for getting to know other exchange students”, Nolan says.
If you miss the ESN trips, make your own travel plans using the Finnish train and bus network or catch a ferry to Estonia or Sweden. All travel information is easily accessed online and student discounts are provided on most forms of transport.
Getting out of Jyväskylä to explore Finland and beyond is simple and easy but before looking out of town for excitement, take the time to consider your options a little closer to home.
Suzanne van Rooyen
Tourist information about Jyväskylä can be found in jyvaskylanseutu.fi/travel/jsm.