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Understanding Finland

Nizhny Novgorod exchange student Polina Zhukova, a student of the Humanities Faculty, HSE Nizhny Novgorod,  is currently studying at University of Jyvaskyla (Finland) in the framework of international academic mobility programme. She has shared with us her impressions on living and studying in Finland.

I guess travelling is a spice of life and that is why I am glad that students of HSE have a possibility to study abroad without a gap year at the home university.

Due to Erasmus + Global I had got an opportunity to study in Finland, and more precisely to go abroad for such a long period for the first time. I can say with certainty that the experience has been one of the best in my life.

What should I start with… If you want your dream to come true, you need some courage to accomplish it.  The first days after the final decision, I felt completely frustrated and was near to hysteria, not fully understanding what's going on. However, it turned out that it is not so difficult as it seems at  first side.

Many times I have been asked the question, "And what is it, Finland?" Finally, I have come to a conclusion that I can determine this country by one formula. It is something similar to an ideal Russia: a similar landscape with his covered with dark green fir forests, lakes, a lot of snow, but life here is more organized. For example, the buses run according to strict schedule, and stores have common electronic queue system. The streets are very neat and cleaned from the snow, and all the people around  smile and are always ready to help.  Life is impossible without politeness here.  

At the University of Jyväskylä there is  a wonderful «tutoring», system where each exchange student has a tutor. Tutor is a student, usually a senior one, who, as a rule, has had experience of studying abroad. His/her obligation  is to meet an exchange student, help him to deal with organizational matters and general education system, conduct a city tour, and provide help in some issues. Personally, my tutor Anna has helped me a lot. She even organized a meeting devoted to traditional Finnish food and culture which was quite  memorable.

In addition, I would like to share some interesting facts about educational system in my Finnish university. Students  are supposed to choose the courses by their own, and pass them at different times. Such educational structure allows to distribute the educational load  properly  and  avoid stress during the examination  session.  However, there is a little disadvantage in such a system because some courses go simultaneously, and a person has to find the way out somehow.

The atmosphere here is quite similar to that at my home university:  comfortable  and almost informal, there is a dialogue between  teachers and students. Students may call professors by their first name to  that I am not  used to.

I miss extracurricular activities at HSE- Nizhny Novgorod: performances,  discussions with a cup of tea.

It was a  pleasant surprise for me  to meet many  Finnish students who study Russian language and culture, and learn about their impressions of studying  in Tver and Yaroslavl. Actually, I am not good at Finnish yet but I like how the language sounds so it motivates me to learn it faster.

Finally, there is an interesting fact: next to the library there is a room where students may have a nap. In my opinion, it is a symbolic thing that such room is located  close to the library.

In conclusion I want to say,  that it does not matter where you go but the most important is to have such  a possibility because according to one famous proverb:  «We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us».