I must admit a few things I knew about Finland prior to moving here were that it is located in the North of Europe and that there are thousands of lakes gracing its nature. Finland became my home unexpectedly, through my passion for travel I got to know the people here, and after one visit I was hooked to their sincerity, efficiency, and their love for nature. What impressed me the most about Finland however is how young people are supported and inspired to pursue their passions and interest through one of the world’s best education systems.
My academic journey in Finland started in Winter of 2020 when I applied to Laurea University of Applied Sciences. After researching different degree programmes and universities in the country, Laurea stood out with its Learning by Developing model. Furthermore, reading about international students’ experiences solidified my choice as I was certain Laurea as an institution emphasizes practical development of skills and provides a diverse and positive learning environment.
What surprised me the most about studying in Finland and Laurea has been the amount of project work students carry out. During my studies I was able to work with real companies and gain an insight into the working culture of Finland. As compared to my home country of Serbia I found studying in Finland to be more dynamic and engaging for the students. Students in Universities of Applied Sciences are actively utilizing their theoretical knowledge and developing their skills through project work.
Studying in Finland has been rewarding in more than one way. It has allowed me to meet people from different backgrounds and create friendships that have further supported my growth as a professional and as a human being. At Laurea I have found myself in a more international and diverse environment than ever. When my classmates and I weren’t studying or working on projects we enjoyed trying out foods from our home countries and sharing stories of our childhood and life back home. Our Finnish classmates introduced us to many cultural activities of Finland, such as sauna, traditional cottage life and swimming in the icy waters.
Every place has its ups and downs, and those cold and dark Winter months in Finland can be challenging. However, one of the best things about the Finnish educational system is that the wellbeing of students is highly prioritized. Educational institutions provide guidance and counseling not only for study-related challenges but also for mental and emotional wellbeing. At Laurea, I was very grateful that this system of support was easily accessible and that I have received assistance which was sincere and discreet.
If you are finding yourself considering studying abroad and wish to do so in a place where high standards for education are held, where the preservation of the environment and social responsibility are deeply integrated, and where the culture and mentality are unique, Finland is that place. When I reflect on my studies so far I am amazed by all the experiences and opportunities that came my way and look forward to many more that will follow.