Before I even knew I was going to study my degree in Turku, I only heard tales of Finland as a land of happy people with the best education system and great healthcare. Everything related to this country seemed perfect and peaceful. Probably what made me choose Finland as the place I’d build a new life for the next two years, was the amount of information on internet, praising every single aspect the country; however, studying a master’s degree in a nearly perfect place with the best education in the world, made me both, happy and anxious. Am I gonna be able to actually finish a degree, when my background is not as good as the one of the place I’m going to?
That’s why this time, and after a challenging, yet rewarding year, I’m gonna tell 3 things that impressed me the most about studying in Finland.
1. Free Will.
At the beginning, I wasn’t completely sure of the way I should make the assignments. I was very used to the professor telling what he/she wanted and giving precise instructions on how to do it, so when my professors in Finland started vaguely asking for things, without any instructions, I was like: but how?
I can surely say I had that question stuck in my mind for good part of the first year (two semesters). When I dared to ask, the answer was always the same: It’s up to you. This, of course, changed my goal from “getting the best grades of my life” to “please God, I need to pass this course”.
2. Not all the Lectures are mandatory.
When I was a child, my mom never let me skip school. I went to school every single day of my life, since I turned 3 years old till the time I was 17, Monday to Friday, 8 to 14. When I came to Finland and the professors said “the lectures are not mandatory” I couldn’t believe it. I learned that some lectures are mandatory in some courses, but in most of them, you don’t have to attend if you don’t want to or if you can’t. Once again, loads and loads of freedom….. Of course I haven’t missed a single class, but is nice to know that if for some reason you can’t attend a lecture, the world it’s not gonna end. Who would’ve known? The little girl living inside me is still shocked.
3. Flexible deadlines.
The magic of the Finnish education resides in the fact that students are treated as humans. Professors actually understand that students can get sick, or depressed or a lot of work or they might not been going through a good time in their lives, so they allow you to submit assignments after the due date. This doesn’t happen in every class, but in most of them. It is very useful for international students, because we might not know how difficult the classes are gonna be, so we make a pretty hectic schedule that will make our life very difficult, so the option, instead of dropping the class, is to request a deadline extension. Plus, exams can be taken three times!!
There are many other aspects I could mention, like the relaxed environment, the multiple libraries we have access to, the amount of researchers working at the universities, and so on. But the past three points are, in my perspective, what makes Finnish education so unique.
Finland has a very well earned reputation because of the education level, and some days, I still can’t believe how lucky I am to have the opportunity of being here, and for that I’m so grateful.