Two years ago Lauren decided to move to Finland to continue her education. We share in this article the story she wrote to us about her experience and first impressions of her time as an international student.
I continued my education outside of the UK due to the cost. Here in Finland, even my healthcare and meals are subsidised. I’ve also received much better treatment and support for my personal growth here compared to my previous university in the UK. Through volunteering as a School Visitor for Erasmus in Schools, I have had the opportunity to visit Finnish primary, secondary, and sixth form schools. I observed that the schools offered free meals for every student, more breaks, and less homework; yet Finland is usually one of the most successful countries in the world in terms of education. I genuinely believe that this is because Finland values the importance of free-time, leisure, exercise, relaxation, and nature. The UK could consider these aspects in order to improve its education system, as I considered studying in the UK much more stressful. For example, in Finland, the lecturers are much more flexible with deadlines due to illness or other problems.
"I was surprised at the internationality evident at the university when I first arrived, as well as the support and facilities provided for international students"
Before I moved to Finland, I was hoping to participate in a Finnish language course, but I thought I would have to pay for evening classes. However, I discovered that international students are able to participate in the Finnish language courses offered by the university for no extra cost and incorporate the credits we gain from them into our studies. Moreover, in Finland, many students go a study exchange to another country. In my experience in the UK, it is mostly only language students who go on a study exchange, and there are not that many language students. I was surprised at the internationality evident at the university when I first arrived, as well as the support and facilities provided for international students. I think studying here is a fantastic opportunity because I am meeting people of nationalities that I have never encountered before, which is changing many of the ideas and prejudices that I previously had about them.
At the university, I discovered the concept of international tutors, which are students who volunteer to help new international students to get accustomed to their new study environment and student life at the university. This is something that I haven’t heard of in the UK, and I think it’s a fantastic idea that could be applied at all universities. As a Student Ambassador, I represented the university to prospective international students, answered applicants' questions in various media, and provided an authentic student perspective. Through this, I became inspired to volunteer as an international tutor myself.