Finland: A cold, dark and Northern country, significant for its nature, metal music and education.
Since I returned to Turku from Netherlands after my exchange here, Finns have been asking me why I wanted to come back. To answer this question I talked to students, who like me have decided to return or stay in Finland, to find out what attracts them to live here.
Before we get to the upsides, everyone I interviewed mention the cold weather and the darkness.
After the classic climate complaints the first impressions of Finland vary. Guilliaume Hamy, originally from France, recounts that he finds Finland international and more peaceful. A simpler life without overconsumption, as he describes it.
“Except perhaps for alcohol.”
For Jonathan Loaizas, who came to Finland from Mexico, the first impression was “a complete shock”.
Turku in particular was a much smaller and quieter city than what Loaizas was used to. He was also surprised how Finns obey the traffic rules and stop at the red light, even when the streets are empty.
After the initial shock the exchange experience won him over with parties, traveling and newfound independence, among other things:
“I love Finland, its culture and its people. I want to remain here forever”, Loaizas says now.
Paulo Santochi form Brazil has similar memories, but is happy with the size of the city:
“Compared to San Paolo, Turku is a lot smaller, so it doesn’t take me an hour to get to places.”
Other than that the prospect of working in Finland appeals to Santochi.
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Ioanna Frangou in a Finnish forest (left), Jonathan Loaizas wearing his student overalls (top right), and Guilliaume Hamy with friends at Santa Claus Village.
HAILING FROM China and Greece, both Shuang Wu and Ioanna Frangou discovered Finland through the metal music scene. Wu imagined the country as a paradise for metalheads:
“I wanted to find more like-minded people.”
Frangou, hoping for the same, had already at 12 years old decided she wanted to go to Finland. For both there are other reasons to living in Finland as well. Wu tells me he didn’t relish the Chinese education system, because “there is always a lot of pressure and compulsory political studies”.
For him the main reason to stay in Finland is the freedom he enjoys here as opposed to the political situation in China.
Frangou was determined to return to Finland, because of limited job opportunities in her home country. She even studied Finnish in Greece before coming back.
Luca Borreani form Italy admires the efficient society and properly working institutions:
“Living in Finland has opened my mind to how things could work in a proper cultural environment. Now I am more aware of Italian issues and their causes.”
IN GENERAL the Finnish education is well appreciated internationally, and the students I spoke with felt very positive about the universities in Turku.
For many, the free education in Finland was a decisive factor in continuing studies here. It remains to be seen how the Finnish universities’ newly imposed tuition fees for students outside of the EU and EEA countries will impact the international community in Turku.
Why do international students choose Turku? PhD students answer:
”I visited a friend here and really liked the culture, clean environment and the fact that people don’t talk too much. People are modest here.”
Zahra Jahanshah Rad, material physics (from Iran)
”Mainly because of the program I study in. I visited here in 2015 and really liked the university. I gradually learned to like the nature and people here as well.”
Nasrin Talebpour, astrophysics (from Iran)
”During my master’s degree I had a collaboration program in Turku. I liked the working environment and research. I like Finland even during winter, though it's very different from where I come from.”
Debanga Mondal, chemical engineering (from India)
Tuition fees do not encourage students from outside of EU and EEA countries to begin their studies at the University of Turku. (2/2018)
Culture Collective: Turku is a new crew of students who share tips about the local culture and folk in English. Rather than simply laying out the whats, whens and wheres, they add the whys and hows. (09/2017)
Tutors can help in making the connections between international students and organizations. (04/2017)
Overalls are an essential part of the Finnish student culture, but how to wear them? Here’s the etiquette, compiled in one handy list! (01/2018)
Finland’s controversial funding model prioritises publishing channels. Internationalisation can easily override studies written in Finnish and benefitting the Finnish society. (05/2017)