11,000 km From Home

Caipirinhas, Copacabana and Cariocas

Chegando no Rio

Chegando no Rio- Arriving in Rio (my little Portuguese lessons for you)

The Last Leg

The flight with layovers took around 18 hours and 35 minutes from Helsinki to Rio de Janeiro!

KLM was definitely the best airline to fly for this trip! The layover in Amsterdam was bearable and the food and entertainment plus decent legroom on the flights were nothing to complain about. All in all my flights went smoothly and I arrived in Rio de Janeiro around 7pm.

Only a tiny queue to pass from the “Europe” terminal to the International terminal at Amsterdam Schipol!

Somewhere up in the clouds

Rio Night 1

By the time I made it through passport control, collected my bags and made it out of the airport it was already dark outside. The trip from Rio Gaelao Airport to my home in Rio Comprido (near Tijuca) in Zona Norte of Rio de Janeiro, took about 30 minutes.

The main city of Rio de Janeiro is split by the mountain Corcovado (the mountain with the Christ the Redeemer Statue), into two parts: Zona Norte and Zona Sul.

Here is a little map of the city of Rio de Janeiro, with some of the Bairros (neighbourhoods) marked onto it.

Zona Norte

Zona Norte is the area north of Flamengo and the area behind the Corcovado mountain. It is the older and more traditional area of Rio de Janeiro. In Zona Norte you can find the Maracanã stadium (Rio Olympics 2016 and Football), Santa Teresa and Lapa which are some cultural centres of the city and of course Centro, which is the business centre of the city.

Zona Sul

Zona Sul is the more “touristy” area of Rio de Janeiro and is host to more expats and tourists. It is generally more expensive than Zona Norte, for everything (food, living etc.). The most famous areas in Zona Sul are the Bairros of Copacabana, Ipanema and Lagoa. The famous Pão de Açucar is also located here. My university Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC) is also located in Zona Sul in the Bairro of Gávea (close to Jardim Botânico). Most of the other exchange students lived in Zona Sul (in Copacabana and Ipanema), so I would recommend getting a room there! Most students shared flats with other exchange students as roommates.

Até Logo,


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I’m Leaving, On A Jet Plane…

Travelling day was finally here! After a week of being back in Finland it was high time to travel again, NOT. To be honest after spending 30+ hours travelling back to Finland from the USA, the thought of another around 24 hours of travel (even after a weeks break) really did not seem appealing to me, but at the same time I was excited to start this new adventure. The good thing (I guess) about studying in Brazil is that the school semester begins a lot earlier than in the rest of the world. Since the semester begins in mid- August, I will be done with my studies by December, while some of my friends studying in Europe still have exams in January.


In Brazil currently it is winter. You wouldn’t think so after taking a look at the weather reports (23-27 degrees), so basically still warmer than Finland in the summer, but then again who is surprised by now? Therefore packing wise, the warmest articles of clothing I brought with me were jeans and a thin sweater. I managed to pack my belongings into 2 x 23 kg suitcases. Only one of these suitcases was included in the free baggage allowance of the flight ticket, the other I purchased online a couple of days earlier, after my mother took a look at my growing pile of packing, laughed and said “you’re going to need another bag”. Luckily being a member of Flying Blue, I managed to get myself a 25 euro discount for my extra baggage on my KLM flight, but still ended up paying 70 euros for the suitcase. The price stings a little, but when I compare it to the price of the flights to Brazil, it starts to seem like loose change. Back to travelling…


My flight was due to depart Helsinki-Vantaa Airport at 7:00 am on the 5th of August, therefore I left my sister’s apartment in Kruununhaka around 4.15 am. The thought of dragging two big suitcases 1km or so to the train station before dawn did not seem very appealing, so I decided to take a taxi to the airport. Best. Choice. Ever. I said my goodbyes to my family and I was on my way. The ride was smooth and uneventful, and before I knew it I was at the airport. I had already checked myself into the flight the previous day (anything for window seats), so all that was left was to print bag tags, boarding passes and drop off my baggage. This was all done in record time (i’m serious). Time taken starting from when I stepped out of the cab, to passing through security was exactly: 33 minutes. Would have been faster but there was some woman in front of me who had problems with her ESTA…

Me, waiting impatiently to check in my baggage.

In the terminal I bought a couple of bottles of Salmiakki Koskenkorva at the Tax Free for 10e each, Alko is such a ripoff. I thought it would be a good idea to bring something really “Finnish” with me to Brazil and to have a laugh at people’s reactions when they try it. I still had some time to kill before my flight, so I had some breakfast:

After breakfast, wandering around the airport, and some waiting it was finally time to board the plane for my first flight: HKI-AMS.

To be continued…

Até Logo,


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I’m Gonna Be (6835 miles)… Away

Oi pessoal!

I’m Pinja Viljaharju a 23 year old, 3rd year International Business student. The purpose of this “blog” is to report on my exchange period in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during the autumn semester of 2017. Notice the word “blog” is in quotation marks, because to me a blog, means: order, scheduled posts and useful content; this blog will probably contain none of the previously mentioned.

In short list form I will tell you how I managed to receive the title of: EXCHANGE STUDENT!

  1. I filled in an online application in ASIO during the application period.
  2. I received confirmation in ASIO that my application had been accepted.
  3. I contacted my #1 choice university: PUC- Rio, to find out about the application requirements.
  4. I filled in Stage 1 of the Learning Agreement with my Tutor Teacher.
  5. I completed the application and sent it to the university via the International Office at JAMK. This contained the: Application Form, Passport Copy, Passport Photo, Personal Statement, Proof of Payment of Registration Fee and the Learning Agreement.
  6. I received confirmation from the university that I had been accepted!

Sounds simple, but really it took quite a lot of paperwork, stress, emails and visits to the International Office. But everything worked out fine in the end.

After receiving confirmation the reality of the exchange actually happening, started to kick in. In no time I was officially homeless, after terminating my rental agreement. I also began the Visa application process. To receive a Brazilian Student Visa I needed to deliver the following documents to the Brazilian Embassy (located in Kaivopuisto, Helsinki):

  • Passport
  • Passport Photo
  • Rikosrekisteriote (max. 2 months old)
  • Letter from PUC-Rio stating that you are a student there
  • Flights to Rio de Janeiro
  • Online Visa application

The Visa application process ran relatively smoothly. As if leaving to a country on the other side of the world is not exciting enough, I like to live life on the edge and took a month long trip abroad, which ended only a week before I was due to depart to Rio de Janeiro. This meant that even though I submitted my Visa Application in late June, with plenty of time before my departure date on the 5th of August, the embassy was unable to process the application until I returned from my trip and brought them my passport. I received my passport at 12.05 pm on the 4th of August, not cutting it close or anything. A big thanks to the helpful embassy workers, without them I would probably still be in Finland.

With all of the paperwork done, I faced the next hurdle: PACKING, but that can be left for the next post.

Até Logo,


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