Why International Students Are Looking to Study in Finland for a Great Work-Life Balance
Sponsored by the University of Eastern Finland
There’s a reason why over 30,000 students move to Finland to study every year and it’s not just to see the Northern Lights.
As Finland continues to dominate rankings of the world’s best countries for education, healthcare, and quality of living, it’s apparent other nations around the world can learn a lot from the country that has a lot to offer.
We spoke to a few international students from University of Eastern Finland (UEF) to find out what they’ve made of their study experience in the Nordic nation so far and what attracted them to study here in the first place.
Student-centered learning at the heart of Finland’s higher education system
When it comes to higher education, Finland is an outside-the-box kind of thinker and is renowned for its innovative and forward-thinking ways. Its flat hierarchy encourages a more equal student to professor relationship, while independent learning is very much encouraged.
Freedom and equality also play an integral role in Finnish higher education – something that’s particularly prominent at the University of Eastern Finland.
“Studying at UEF feels like nothing I’ve ever experienced before in terms of learning environment and teaching methods,” said Romanian student, George Cosmin Porușniuc who is currently studying the International Master’s Program in Information Technology (IMPIT).
“The curriculum is very flexible, and you basically get to decide what courses you take in order to fulfill your credit requirements.”
Vietnamese student Le Than Phuong is also studying for her master’s degree in Environmental Health and Technology at the University of Eastern Finland. She told us how she enjoys the freedom and informality of the Finnish education system offers.
“We can organize our studies to fit our own schedules and desires. But freedom comes with responsibility, and students need to study by themselves,” said Le Than, who also appreciates the various ways in which classes are taught.
“I love the multi-methods of teaching which use different tools, such as lectures, videos, and online teaching which helps students learn a lot better.
“Group work is another thing I like about studying in Finland. There is a lot of group work which prepares us for working life,” she added.
It’s all about trial and error
For many international students whose first experience abroad is to live and study, it can be difficult to adapt and become familiar with new customs and cultures – whether you’re in the classroom or out and about in the local town.
During class, students are encouraged to be active and not be afraid to speak up. Considering how students and professors are on first-name terms with one another, it can make the whole learning experience feel much more personal and relaxed.
“Mistakes are normal and acceptable because each failure is a chance for you to learn something and gain new experiences,” said Vietnamese student, Le Phuoc Thao Nguyen who’s currently studying the Master’s Degree Program for Research Chemists.
Taking the time to enjoy and appreciate what’s beyond campus boundaries
In between lectures and studying, the opportunity to explore what’s practically on your front doorstep is undeniably tempting.
Although George hasn’t seen much of what Finland’s wintry wonderland scenes have to offer, he’s still in awe of what he has managed to glimpse so far.
“It’s just amazed me how beautiful some of the landscapes are that I’ve seen on bus journeys!
“I can only imagine how amazing it’s going to be when I go to visit the Koli National Park, or Rovaniemi (the home of Santa Clause) . Visiting Rovaniemi is a must and I’m planning on doing so as soon as possible,” said George.
“I remember the first snowfall I experienced here, I was ecstatic,” said Ria Talukder, who’s currently studying the Master of Science in Photonics.
“As far as outdoor games are concerned, I tried skiing and sledding, and it was so much fun. Now I’m planning to try skating as well.”
Adapting to the challenges that come with the 21st century
Those who have the opportunity to live, work and study in Finland are exposed to an entire new way of living, and it’s noticeable how proud the international students we spoke to were of the healthy work-life balance embedded in everyday Finnish life.
Studying in Finland also means you’re entitled to Finnish Student Health Services (FSHS) – although you will need to have paid your Student Union membership to access them. Some healthcare services however, such as dental treatment will have additional fees, although they do tend to be very reasonable.
There are also many other student discounts available for students, regardless of whether you’re an international or home student, a master’s student or bachelor’s student.
What’s more, in 2020 the University of Eastern Finland will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary. To help celebrate, all international master’s students who commence their studies in September 2020 will be eligible for a partial tuition fee waiver.
This article was originally published in December 2019 . It was last updated in September 2021