Finland: The country of about five and a half million inhabitants at the Northern edge of Europe is famous for its Northern lights, untouched nature, and sauna traditions. Increasing numbers of students from abroad who enjoy the international and open-minded study environment testify to Finland’s growing popularity as a study destination. Jens Närger, who is working for the Finnish National Centre for International Mobility, provides first-hand experience.
When I first considered studying abroad, only one option seemed reasonable for my heat-sensitive nature, namely to move further north in Europe. While many already had found their way to Sweden or Denmark, I was looking for something else, something different. I found it in the form of a study exchange in Helsinki, the capital of Finland.
Right from the beginning, I had a feeling that going to this country famous for hockey, beautiful nature with endless forests and lakes, as well as its education system, was going to mean more to me than a brief exchange period. Living in the bustling city quarter of Kallio with its many clubs, bars, and an abundance of local characters, provided the right setting for my studies at the University of Helsinki.
Student culture in Finland is one of a kind, and contrary to all clichés, people are astoundingly open and welcoming. Not a single day goes by on which leisure is in danger of being neglected: Local student associations that organize parties and trips provide the perfect meeting ground for internationals and internationally minded locals.
One year of exchange and a subsequent Master’s degree from the University of Tampere later, it is safe for me to say that coming to Finland was the best choice of my life so far. The study situation was optimal for me. With plenty of courses taught in English to choose from, close student-teaching relationships, and open study curricula helped me not only to grow as a researcher, but also as a person. While gaining the study experience abroad was my initial motivation, much more has come to pass that made me settle down up in the North. Having the beautiful nature a short bus ride away, and living within a healthily egalitarian take on society, made it is easy for me to feel at home.
In Finland, Equality is written with a capital letter and serves as the education system’s baseline. The equal access to higher education for all is evident in the country-wide distribution of well-funded state universities and polytechnics, which currently do not charge tuition fees. Finland does not aim to have one or two top universities; instead, the quality of the learning environment is high regardless of whether you study in Lapland, Karelia, Ostrobothnia, or Southern Finland. Specialized study programs, tailor-made to meet the needs of future professionals and researchers, can be found in smaller and bigger institutions alike. The institutions’ high degree of autonomy ensures their independence and allows them to provide an innovative study environment.
If you are looking for high quality education in a safe and natural environment you don’t need to look any further. Study in Finland and get your education on top of the world!
Read more on the governmental website www.studyinfinland.fi, which provides reliable information on everything concerning the application to Finnish universities or polytechnics.
Jens Närger, CIMO
Jens works for the Finnish National Centre for International Mobility. He lives and works in Helsinki, and as a foreigner, has never quite got the hang of hockey.