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Getting the Most Out of Your University Experience in Finland
If you’re thinking about studying in Finland or if you’ve gotten your acceptance letter already, you probably wonder how you can get the most out of studying in Finnish university. I am here to give you a set of ideas on that matter! So read ahead and learn what you can do to turn your study abroad into the most valuable experience in your life.
What is the right time to start?
People tend to wait for the ideal moment to start doing something. But you’re one of those lucky ones who’s got it! New opportunities will present themselves all along, and it’s up to you how you allocate your resources. 3.5 years (or more) in a new country seems like a long time, but believe me time flies fast. So insure yourself that you’ll graduate getting a degree along with a set of treasured results from your study in Finland. The following 5 recommendations are meant to give you an idea where you can start:
- Be Active
It’s so easy to find yourself lost among all the noise surrounding us… So would it be a class, team project, an event at school, try to keep focus on that. Be an active listener and get into conversations.
Finnish universities have a low power distance and you can easily communicate with your professors and peers. Moreover, there are always ongoing discussions during classes, so feel free to speak your mind. Don’t hesitate to do so! No one knows everything, moreover people may thank you later for raising a question first.
As I mentioned, professors treat students as equals and are always willing to help them out. It’d be nice to introduce yourself to them and maintain a good relationship with professors throughout the whole study process. You never know, maybe a reference from them will be the crucial part for landing your internship!
I’ll be indicating importance of networks a lot, so let me go into the details. It’s a crucial part of everyone’s lives and it doesn’t depend on where you are and what you are doing. Networking may not be the only thing that’s needed, but you can’t deny its presence.
Start with your course mates and your professors. Your university will most likely have some types of networking events, so don’t miss the opportunity to participate and be active! Ask questions. Introduce yourself and have a small talk. If those people are willing to come to your university/networking event, they are likely to be interested in meeting new people as well. So they’d be happy to talk to you.
It’s never too early, it’s never too many! The search for an internship offers is an ongoing process, which is better to start during your freshman year. Your internship can be a “free pass” to a part time job, and that can lead you to an employment right after graduation. Overall, your future employees will appreciate your experience and you’ll feel more confident having not only theoretical knowledge, but also a hands-on experience.
I know it’s difficult to find an internship, especially when you have no to very little experience in the field. Try asking your professors (your network!) or student counselors for a reference, and they may provide you with some useful information. Moreover, visit every job posting web site you can find and look for an internship there.
Apply to as many as you find relevant and wait for results. In many cases it takes quite a long time to hear from HR. You have to be patient and prepared to get less responses than the inquiries you sent. You can end up with one interview offer out of 10 applications. But that’s okay. It’s how the process goes. So apply to as many offers as you’d like, gain experience having interviews and familiarize yourself with the whole recruiting process. Dealing with that, you’ll gain not only experience, but also valuable network, that can help you in the future.
Some of the popular job posting web sites are Erasmus Intern, GoinGlobal, Indeed and LinkedIn. Also read our blog post on how to find a part-time job in Finland and introduce yourself to the tips presented there!
Volunteering is another way to gain some experience and connect with amazing people. It’s also worth mentioning on your CV. Volunteering can be done through international organizations such as Slush, local organizations or even through your university. Volunteering is a useful activity that would have a positive effect on your life!
You may also join student union at your university, or available clubs that you’re interested in. It’s another way to bring new colors into your everyday life and explore student experiences in Finland more!
All these extracurricular activities are nice to have, but just a reminder – you came to Finland to study. Please do so! It’s important to keep up with your classes. Make all the other activities to support your studies, and not replace it.
Learning Finnish is important. Yes, just like that. It should be quite obvious: study the local language. You may come to Finland knowing nothing in the language, but once you’re here take advantage of it! It’s much easier to learn the language if you live in Finland. And you’ll have plenty of time and opportunities for that.
Taking Finnish classes at the university isn’t always enough, if you want to master Finnish in a short time span. So practice speaking as much as possible. You’re lucky to study with Finnish students, talk to them! Pay attention to people speaking on the streets, in the stores, etc… Pick up some phrases and use them! Practice is a big part of learning a new language, and you can do it as much as you want in Finland! You can read more tips on studying Finnish on our blog.
You’ll need time to test the water, but I’m sure you won’t have trouble adjusting to a new life. In any case, don’t rush yourself! Most important thing is getting started. Little by little you’ll gain better understanding of yourself and your desires for the future.
Take good care of yourself and enjoy the ride!
9 Dec 2019