Skip to main content
Reading Time: 19 minutes

The big ITEM experience: part 2

This is the second and final part of the ITEM experience article series! IThappens committee members Alwin and Laura have gone to Finland and beyond for their Double Master’s Degree, ITEM for short. ITEM was introduced thoroughly in part 1 of the series. In this second and final article on the ITEM program, we will look into the courses, similar programs, the events in Finland, different trips that can be made, apps that are useful for the time that you spend as an ITEM student, Erasmus Student Network (ESN), and other practical matters.

First of all, the Finnish student culture is very much present. There are a lot (and with a lot we truly mean a lot) of student associations. For example, the Turku School of Economics (TSE) has one called TuKy. Each faculty, such as law, history, or in the case of the ITEM program TSE, has a specific colour. This color is shown through overalls (Haalarit). It is a tradition to wear your own faculty’s overall to all kinds of (student) events, such as pub crawls. By going out (during the week mostly, unless there is a special event) almost everyone wears the overall. Every overall is personalized with patches, or Haalarimerkki in Finnish. You can collect patches by attending different types of events, such as a sitsit (sitz) party. More on that later in the article. You can also buy them from different types of organizations and stores. A lot of people also buy letters to create their name for on the overall. The patches are manually sewn on with a thread and needle. This takes some time, but it is the only real way to do it. Ironing on is also possible, but not with all patches. 

Photo Overall and patch Alwin

Alwin’s overall with TUX (SBIT’s mascot) to still be sewn on.


There are several courses which can be taken in the ITEM program. If you want, these can even be from  Åbo Academi University. This is a university which has its base language in Swedish, since Swedish is the third most spoken language of Finland. This also explains why there are always signs in Swedish right next to or under signs in Finnish. Sometimes, the English version is not even there!

In the first week of January, there is an introduction week which explains a lot of matters. For both Laura and Alwin attending these introductionary sessions at Turku University has proved itself very useful. For example, ESN introduces themselves and shares the QR-code or link to join their Telegram app, which is a must for all information regarding events and activities.

Photo Turku School of Economics (TSE)

Turku University’s Turku School of Economics (TSE).

The courses which the authors of this article have taken are:

  1. Research methods;
  2. ITG and ITSM;
  3. Digital Economy & Business Models: digital economy;
  4. Digital Economy & Business Models: business models;
  5. Enterprise Architecture;
  6. International Business Negotiation skills;
  7. Academic writing;
  8. Intercultural Team Building with a Shared international language;
  9. Alumni keynote speakers.

Each course will be looked at in detail briefly.

Research methods (January – April)

Research methods was a mandatory course hosted at TSE. During this course you get to work on your thesis proposal, as well as do a ‘mini-thesis’, where you can get some pilot data. This helped with the actual thesis process, since it offered methods to look into your specific theory or methodology which you could use to develop the thesis and you got to try out the method you thought out, which often led to some changes to be implemented for the actual thesis. This program is hosted from the start of January to the end of April, and is worth 6 ECTS.

IGT and ITSM (January – April)

ITG and ITSM is the second mandatory course in the ITEM program. It stands for IT Governance and IT Service Management. This course had a lot of similarities compared to the IT Governance course at Tilburg University. This made it also pretty easy as an ITEM student. The course is also worth 6 ECTS and contained participation in a forum, making online assignments and an exam with open questions. It is hosted from the start of January to the end of April.

Digital Economy and Business Models: Digital Economy (January – February)

Digital Economy is the first part of the Digital Economy and Business Models course, which is worth 3 ECTS. The course offers various theories regarding a digital economy. The course has a lot of similarities with the Business Process Integration course. The exam consisted of only two open questions. It was not hard, but studying the book was more important than we were told. If you take this course, make sure to study that as well.

Digital Economy and Business Models: Business Models (March – April)

Business Models is the second part of the Digital Economy and Business Models course. This course entailed making a digital business model of either a traditional business or improving an already known one. There were only two lectures held for this course and one presentation. A group assignment had to be made for this course, which is also 3 ECTS.

Enterprise Architecture (January – April)

This course is basically a second revisit to Tilburg University’s own Enterprise Architecture (EA) course. For the EA course in Turku, a learning journal had to be handed in and a group project is optional. This was not difficult at all, but may take some time. The course offers 6 ECTS.

International Business Negotiation Skills (January – April)

The international Business Negotiation course is one of the courses that focuses on the English language. This course is held from January until April. The first part of this course is made up of lectures where theory regarding business negotiations is discussed and recording yourselves in a group of 4 while you practise the theory. During the second part of the course you will hold 2 negotiations in two groups of four and you will either give feedback or reflect on the negotiations that were held. This course only offers 3 ECT, making it quite a workload compared to the other courses. If you want to improve your skills in the English language however, this course is very interesting.

Academic Writing (January – April)

Academic Writing was one of the most useful courses hosted by TSE in our opinion. Each lecture entails a specific part of the thesis (dissertation), such as the introduction, the literature review, the conclusion, etc. The presented tips and tricks, as well as useful theories, really helped with the thesis process, which is already starting from mid-January. The course offers 3 ECTS, and the deliverable is either a certain number of pages of the thesis or the document that you hand in for the Research Methods course, either way easy points. 

Intercultural Team Building with a Shared Language (January – February)

This course entailed only six lectures, which were all very long in duration. This is because it is a 3 ECTS course, but it finishes in early March. It’s a course which is not difficult at all, but very interesting, since you get to know a lot about other cultures. The final assignment entails a learning journal which is not that difficult, but can require a little bit of time.

Alumni Keynote Speakers (February)

Alumni Keynote Speakers is a 1 ECTS course that can be different every year. For us this course entailed a trip to the Rauma region.  In February, all GITM, ITEM and IMMIT students went to the Rauma region to visit some companies, such as the nuclear power plant, a sawmill and a beer brewer. By writing a small report, it is possible to receive 1 ECTS. This may come in handy by deciding to do another 2 ECTS course instead of a 3 ECTS course.

Similar programs

There are different kinds of similar programs to ITEM. First of all, there it the IMMIT program. This program offers three master’s degrees, which are offered in France, Finland and the Netherlands. Since the ITEM program starts at Tilburg University, but the IMMIT students start in France (Aux en province de Marseille University), they meet in Finland to have a joint program. Personally, we have made good friends from this program. So be prepared to meet other Dutch, French and Finnish students. Then, there is the GITM program. This stands for Global IT Management. There are two kinds of programs which are similar to ITEM, which are DEMA and BIKMA. DEMA offers two master’s degrees, one in Germany and one in Finland. The BIKMA program offers two master’s degrees, one in China and one in Finland. By doing the ITEM program, you will most likely encounter some of these students and maybe even become friends with them. 


Student life is a very important part of the Finnish culture, and definitely something to experience while your in Finland. The Fins make sure to organise many types of events within Turku but also other parts of Finland. And don’t worry, the courses in Finland are way less of a workload compared to Tilburg so you have time to experience all there is to the Finnish studentlife. The most important and authentic events are explained briefly. 


Pikkulaskiainen is an appro (pub crawl) throughout the city. By collecting stamps from different places, such as a bar, a store or a coffee shop, you can get a patch. But this is not all! the event also entails a sledding competition between different studentassociations as well as a live stage of some of the most popular Finnish artists! This is a very big event which is only happening in Turku, organized by TSE. Students from all over Finland come to Turku just for this event. Be sure to wear your overall, since the city will be flooded with different types of coloured overalls. 


Vappu, or Mayday, is the event of the year in Finland. It resembles the end of the semester. Originally, it was meant for the working people (labour day).  But the students made it a big happening. Mayday itself is of course on the 1st of May, but the fun starts way before that. The 3 weeks leading up to Mayday are filled with activities from student associations all over Turku and made available to TSE students as well! The 30th of April, there is the traditional capping. Every student who graduates high school receives a cap, which they wear during this day. Before this happens, the entire campus of Turku University is flooded with stands from all kinds of student organizations, which are handing out free punch. Just be sure to take your own glass, and you can try them all, for free! In the afternoon there is a speech in front of the art museum in the city, it is truly a unique thing. The rest of the day, people are chilling by the Aura river with some drinks, such as the Lonkero (Long drinks). On the 1st of May, there is the traditional Vappu picknick.

Photo Vappu Turku

Vappu being celebrated on the 1st of May in Turku.


A Sitz or a Sitsit is another unique event which has some strong Finnish traditions. It is the Finnish equivalent of a Cantus, which is basically singing songs and drinking beer. The Finnish way is similar, but any drink is allowed, and there are always three rounds of food served. This food is known to be not-so-filling, so eating something beforehand is very smart. In the second or third week, ESN (Erasmus Student Network) usually hosts one for 100 people. This way, everyone can get to know what this is. Studying in Finland, everyone should attend at least 1 sitz if they can to fully embrace Finnish culture.

Photo Sitz ESN Uni Turku

A photo of a Sitz organized by ESN Uni Turku being prepared before the participants arrive.

Trips to other cities/nature

It is possible to go to other cities within Finland or to the beautiful nature it has to offer. One of the most known places close to Turku is Villa Järvela, which is a place with lots of different types of saunas by a big (frozen) lake. Sauna and (ice) lake swimming are very traditional Finnish activities, which are very nice to try. Next to this, there are various trips organized by ESN or other associations which host a hike through a national park or nature area. This is also truly an amazing experience. You can even see the old man’s beard (Usnea) growing on the pine trees, which resembles the very high air quality in Finland.

Ice hockey (TPS)

The most popular sport in Finland, Ice hockey! It is definitely recommended to go to at least one game, and don’t forget to get your tickets with the student discount. TPS is the official ice hockey team of Turku and has games about every other week until mid-March. When you go to these games enjoy the quick pace of the game and be on the lookout for the player with the golden cap, the top scorer of the team!


Throughout the study period, there are various opportunities to travel within Finland or to another country. Some examples are trips to Lapland, Baltic states, Archipelago and Lofoten. The trips are organized either by ESN Uni Turku, ESN Abo Akademi, or Timetravels. Timetravels is the partner organization of ESN, which offers a lot of trips with a discount for ESN members.


Lapland is by far the most known trip. Laura and Alwin have gone to Lapland organized by ESN Uni Turku, in the fourth week of January, We had to skip some classes, but did some additional work to keep up with the progress of our courses to make sure we were still on track. Lapland offers northern lights, but also husky sledging, skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snow walking, snowscooter driving, ice skating, and in general gorgeous nature. Also a nice chance to spot some northern lights. Every student should take the chance to go to Lapland if they can, either by going with ESN Uni Turku/ ESN Abo Akademi, or by a trip organized by Timetravels.

Photo Northern Lights Lapland

A photo of the Northern Lights taken by Alwin in Finnish Lapland.

Pirates of the Baltic sea

Pirates of the Baltic sea (PoBs) is another very well-known trip. This event happens in April. A boat from Helsinki will go to Stockholm, where a day is spent. But the most fun happens on the ship- it is basically a party boat with over 1000 students. It also offers cheap drinks, such as long drinks, by buying it in bulk (24 pack) on the tax-free shop on the boat. 

Photo overall PoBs Alwin

A Photo of Alwin in his overall on the PoBs trip.

Baltic states 

Timetravels organizes a trip to the Baltic states. All three Baltic countries are visited within this trip: Estonia (Tallinn), Latvia (Riga), and Lithuania (Vilnius). By going with a ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, there is a guide waiting with a bus. 

Photo Baltics Riga

A Photo taken in Riga, Latvia while on the Baltics trip.

Turku archipelago

Another trip organized by Timetravels is the Archipelago, these are the Islands at the coast of Turku. During this trip you get to visit Pargas, Nagu, Korpo and Houtskär. Staying in the old house of the rector of the old school of Houtskär, which is located right next to the sea, you get to hike through the beautiful nature, go kayaking, try the traditional pea soup and hear stories from the locals about the past on these islands. 

Lofoten islands (Norway)

One of the final trips offered at the end of the semester is the Lofoten islands trip in Norway. The Lofoten islands are well-known for their astonishing nature and views. Not only do the beaches look like the Caribbeans, but the hikes offer amazing views over the entire landscape. The busride from Turku takes 23 hours, including stops, which is quite long. However, it is definitely worth it for the amount of value you receive in return in our opinion.

Photo Lofoten Norway

A Photo taken on the Lofoten islands trip in Norway.


The final trip which is possible in May is the trip to Iceland. This trip has not been done by either Alwin or Laura, but it is a possibility to do. 

Useful apps

There are a lot of apps which all serve different purposes within the four/five months that ITEM students are staying in Finland. Each one will be introduced and elaborated on briefly.

Aurora app

The My Aurora app offers amazing insights into the possibilities of aurora borealis (northern lights). Based on the forecasts, current location and other factors, it will provide very useful information. In general, northern lights have been visible from as early as 20:30, up until basically the entire night (around 03:30). In our experience, between 22:00 and 00:00 has been the best time for northern light spotting. When stars are visible, and there are not a lot of clouds, the northern lights may be visible. Even in May (in Turku) they were visible on some days. But in general, northern lights will be visible from January all the way to the middle of April.

Aurora app screenshot

A screenshot of the Aurora app, which shows how strong the current Northern Lights activity is.

Nyx & Cluby app

The 2 apps; Nyx and Cluby are both great when you want to enjoy student life for a little less. As we all know alcohol is very expensive in Finland, but these apps will save you from going bankrupt on beer. Both offer special discounts to the popular clubs and pubs in Turku, in the Nyx app these are only on invite so be sure to ask ESN Uni Turku.  Cluby is another app which helps with saving a lot of money by going out.

Tuudo app

The Tuudo app is a necessity for all students within Finland. It provides the digital student card, which is mandatory for buying cheap lunch/dinner at the student restaurants from Unica/Mood (more on that later in this article). It also shows the menus for each restaurant, which is handy if you want to eat something specific. And it shows your schedule. 

TYS app

TYS is the housing organization which offers the rooms for ITEM students. With the TYS app you can reserve a sauna (which is included in the rent, and can be done four times per month, per person), and to make reservations for laundry. Just make sure to pick a laundry place closest to you. In our case this was Tyysia Pesula, which is the laundry place right next to the Mood restaurant and the Campussport gym. This is the closest laundry place you will find in Student Village West (Yo-Kylä), where the ITEM and IMMIT students are often located. 


Telegram is used to communicate a lot of information, next to WhatsApp. It is mostly used by ESN. By having this app, everyone can stay up-to-date with the current information regarding events and activities.

Kide is the app which Finnish (student) organizations use for selling tickets for certain events. ESN Uni Turku offers their Sitz and activities tickets through this platform, as well as the trip to Lapland. Just make sure to have a credit card available, since this is the only way to buy tickets.


Föli is the local bus company within Turku. By having the app, you can easily check and update the money on your Föli bus card. A trip within the city costs 1,80 for students, and 3,00 for non-students (single trip, which is valid for three hours). Just be sure to pick up the Föli bus card in the city during the first week of arrival in Turku. You can pick the monthly fee for unlimited travelling, or the student discount version of the card.

Frank app

Frank app is basically the app which offers discounts for students for basically everything. Before making a purchase, basically everywhere, it is smart to check if there is a discount available for students.


Instagram in general is very useful to keep track of different kinds of activities and events hosted by different kinds of organizations, such as ESN Uni Turku and some of the clubs in Turku.


Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is the most important organization for international students. They help with basically everything, such as by providing information on events, helping with settling down in Turku, and making friends through different events. You can also become an active member, which offers lots of advantages. Examples are doing a one-hour shift for letting people into a club for a party hosted by ESN. You will get a free drink, free cloakroom, free entry and a free patch in return. If you are active enough, you may even become eligible for being the group leader for free to go on one of their trips, such as the Baltic states trip or the Lofoten trip!

Practical matters

Within Turku University, students can schedule their own exams. This also means that the answers and questions are discussed within the students. This offers not only flexibility, but it also almost guarantees that you will pass the exam. Turku University offers a lot of resits. You most likely won’t need them, but you get four resits for one course.

Public transport: money from the government

Before going to Turku University, students should stop their NS chipcard public transport subscription. This way, you can ask for an equivalent amount of money for each month. Be sure to request the OV subscription for when you come back before the first of May! Otherwise, the subscription will only start from the first of June!

Exams and assignments

Within Turku University’s TSE, it is possible to have four tries of a single exam. This is nice, but the problem is that you only have a limited time to do the exam physically, as they need to be done at Turku University. Once you go home, you will need to go to Turku physically if you don’t pass the exam. All exams at TSE are E-exams. This means that there are no written exams. In addition, you can schedule when you want to do the exam whenever you want. To do this it is important to pick up a tag at the IT support desks (and activate it in advance!) as these give you entry to the E-exam rooms.

Finnish ID

The Finnish government requires all students to get a Finnish ID number, otherwise the university will not be able to give you your transcript of your grades. This number can be received from the office called the DVV, which is in charge of the population numbers within Finland. In February, there will be two days specifically for new semester students who can go to the office to receive one without appontment. Be sure to get this done in time. 

Transportation within Turku

Within Turku, there are a few options to travel. The first is by foot, since the University is only a fifteen minute walk and the city centre only a 25 minute walk. The second option is to travel by bus. As mentioned before, the local bus company in Turku is Föli. Be sure to visit their office in the city centre to either get the monthly student subscription (37 euro we believe) or the student discount where you can get a bus ride for 1,80 euro per ride (valid for three hours). 

Transportation within Finland

When going to another city, there are two ways to travel. The first is by bus. The most known bus company is Matkahuolto. By going to their website, you can find different travel providers such as OmniBus and Väino. The other option is to go by train. The biggest Finnish train company is called VR, which offers InterCity (IC) trains. Be sure to book a seat well in advance on their website, since booking a seat becomes more expensive the closer to the actual departure date! Note that it is not possible to just check in to the train as in the Netherlands.

Transportation to another country

To go to Tallinn (Estonia) or to Stockholm (Sweden), you can go by ferry. The two major ferry companies are Viking line and Ëckero line. These can be booked on their respective websites.  On the boat there is a tax free shop, which means that products such as Alcohol can be purchased relatively cheap in comparison to Finland itself. The most known example of this is the 24 long drinks (Lonkero) which can be bought for less than thirty euros. The third option to travel to another country is of course by plane. The most commonly made trip is to Gdansk with Ryanair, from Turku airport. By being a member of ESN, you will receive a free 10% discount as well as free additional luggage to take with you. 

Student restaurants

Within Turku, there are so-called student restaurants, operated by the company called Unica. These restaurants offer cheap meals (for 2,95 euros), which can be bought both in the afternoon (which the most common) and in the evening (only at selected restaurants). The most known examples the student restaurants are Mood Ravintola (the restaurant at Student Village West) and Assarin (which is the biggest Unica chain restaurant in Turku, which is also right next to TSE). 

CampusSport (gym)

There is a 50-euro gym subscription available for students to go to the CampusSport gyms in Turku. This will not only give you access to the gyms (you can use the tag from the university for your subscription), but will also allow you to take the many sports classes they offer.  There are several gyms close to university, but the closest one is located in Student Village West, where the ITEM students are often placed. We have often walked in our gym clothes to the gym, since it is only fifty metres away.

Internship (thesis)

By following courses at TSE as well as having to work on the thesis, this offers a little challenge in priorities at times. Until the end of February, most courses will be hosted. This means that you will have less time to work on the thesis. Luckily, the thesis proposal has to be worked on and handed in at that time. There is therefore no stress of the actual thesis yet at that time. Just be sure to have the internship fixed well in advance (if you chose to do one), since doing this remotely from Finland may be quite difficult. Both Laura and Alwin have set up their internships so that they can work on the thesis remotely until they get back, with an end date of the internship at the end of the thesis period (the final deadline).

Shops and Alcohol

There are a few grocery stores in Finland which are common. These are the K and S chains. K-supermarket is present almost everywhere, but their prices can vary based on location. For example, the one in the student village is more expensive than the one in the city. Then there is the S-market or Prisma and the city also has a Lidl. Regarding alcohol, there is the Alko store. This is the only store where alcohol with a percentage higher than 5,5% can be sold. Be aware that the Alko has limited opening times and alcohol sales (also in grocery stores) stop at 21.00. 

Active member: SBIT 

Since we both remained active members of the Information Management master’s study association Asset | SBIT while we were in Finland, this meant that we would also have to contribute to something. Alwin has been the president of the ITHappens committee during his time in Finland, where Laura has been a member of the ITHappens committee. This was perfectly doable, since this committee can be done remotely. 

Final notes

The ITEM program offers so much more than just education. You get to know a lot of other cultures, people and places. It is truly a wonderful program which offers both flexibility and freedom. We recommend the ITEM to anyone who is still doubting what to do. If you’re not sure what to do after the ‘regular’ Master’s programme, the ITEM program is a must to look at. 


Leave a Reply