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Lapland is truly above ordinary: How the Finnish education brought out the best of me



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I was in second grade at high-school, when I visited Lapland and learnt about their education system, culture and style of living. I felt like this whole place can’t be true: couldn’t believe how convenient, functional and student-oriented their approach is in every spectrum and stage of education.

Born and raised in Veszprem, Hungary – sister town of Rovaniemi, my elementary school had organised a student exchange programme, during which we stayed with local Lappish families and went on school & leisure activities with them. I will never forget the first time I saw the reflection of the pine forest on the river and how I suddenly found myself feeling home at such an extraordinary place I have never been to. All in all, I knew I wanted to experience this modern system and their peaceful nordic lifestyle, so I decided to start planning my higher education studies back then already. My feelings were right back then: Lapland is the place to study and grow into the best self of who you are.

Planning my studies & moving to Rovaniemi

So around my last year of high-school, I realised that this dream of studying in Finland is not necessarily a dream and I can easily turn it into a plan that can be then executed, right? I didn’t really know what to study exactly back then & didn’t get much guidance on which direction to go for. As I did not know anyone who went to Finland to do their Bachelors, I started digging and doing a research, after which I knew plenty about their system, school types and even got interested in one of Lapland University of Applied Science’s programme. Their courses were built upon Problem and Project based learning, where teachers were sort of guiding how to apply your knowledge into certain areas of the field. They also offered student talent mentoring by their individual study plan programme, which perfectly suited their practice-oriented approach. The programme sounded just exactly what I needed after being raised up by a heavily academic education.

Application & moving to Lapland

After applying in January and taking the entrance exam, which is a test and an interview in April in Budapest. Having prepared well & being really enthusiastic about my studies in Lapland, I know I will get accepted. As the Finnish entrance exam was the sole basis of student selection, I felt relieved and I was able to ignore the insane amount of stress, that our Hungarian baccalaureate brought upon us (which by the way, I have passed all with the best grade) Plus the numbers were on my side too, Helsinki and rather southern places are more popular within Finland, as people think that it’s less cold and dark there – well, they are wrong!

So I got the email of acceptance in June: this girl is moving to Lapland! What an exciting summer it was, with all the planning, packing and organising. It was quite easy to find the local student housingcompany and just like that, I had my new home waiting for me. I will never forget the feeling of packing your life into two luggages and flying alone the first time to a new country 3000km away, just to follow my dreams. This feeling of freedom felt intoxicating & scary at the same time I admit, but when I arrived to Lapland, I found myself surrounded by the kindest and most welcoming people I ever met.

Studying in Rovaniemi, Lapland UAS

Rovaniemi the capital of Lapland, a town of 60 000 people & 200 000 reindeers. Ideal place to focus on studies, develop yourself and have enough time for everything you have not had before. You can definitely finish that book, network, find friends for life, connect with nature, learn winter sports andpick up that guitar or start that business – no reason for procrastinating! Not to mention that there are around 10 000 students, from two universities – which definitely bring the town to life during Wednesdays (little Saturdays) and weekends. Several student events, social happenings and leisure opportunities are offered by the student unions & ESN. The student life was truly amazing, I had an international class of students from like 10 different countries like U.S., Vietnam, Nepal, Russia,Cyprus, Finland and we were welcomed by student mentors, senior students who guided us in the first months. We were also joined by exchange students in our second year, after which we had representatives of almost all the European countries, as Lapland really is the place to study!

Individual study plan and Learning experiece

The student-teacher relationship was something very different, that I have experienced before. Teachers became our friends and the teaching style was very much direct, we were learning together with them, sharing knowledge, information and having their guidance when needed. We could easily trust with asking for professional consultancy regarding our professional development building our career. Each class had their tutor teacher, who helped us planning our individual study plan (ISP) during the semesters. This meant that we could always change and tweak the direction a bit according to our interests, which meant an amazing level of flexibility & tailored learning. This is the main reason I could get my degree within 2 years: I have become the best self of myself, more motivated knowing that I can study what I am the most keen on & what will get me to where I want to be. Plus they offered online courses as well, which I could take during the summer and the one semester of practical training could be done while still studying as well. I personally like to keep busy, however this is an option too: as many decides to take it easy and slow while others rather take it quick and more challenging.

The studies started smooth, our courses were project based, making them feel more exciting and we had only a small amount of lectures. There was also a possibility to get previous knowledge accepted, if you have acquired the needed skills before, which is another proof of how flexible and development oriented the teaching is. Team work, group tasks & individual learning were core parts of our studies, teachers were more of tutors & mentors, who stepped in when needed. In my opinion, this is why we got ready for the ‘real life’ & work: we developed real products and services instead of only learning about the theoretical steps of implementing. Entrepreneurs and representatives of businesses were brought to the classroom, who gave us projects to be done via creating a tailored marketing, accounting or business model for them. Innovation and sustainable
business thinking were core parts of our classes, nurturing the minds of young business students – the next generation of decision makers.

Getting the job I wanted, even before I have officially graduated

We were advised to get a practical training at the field we felt the most interested about, as our skills will be developed in that area & valuable field-related experiences are acquired that are awesome for your CV. Having the opportunity to organise a student-business network event at the university, I got really interested in project & event management - I was offered a practical training in this area at my university by my lecturer during the spring semester of 2019. Later around April, when I was thinking to start writing my thesis during the summer, I was put in contact with a former Lapland UAS student, who now is a co-founder of a London-based company related to R&I project collaboration. I asked if they would like to take me & give me a case, based on which I can write my thesis. The answer was yes & yes – they even offered me to work with them as a trainee in their London office.

From Lapland to London, what a change! Realising that I only have 20 credits left apart from my thesis, I took online courses during the summer, such as Circular Economy & International Project Management & Funding Instruments. It was a busy summer: working, writing my thesis & doing online courses. Although, It was all worth it: by October I got into an amazing startup in London & I am living the life I have always wanted. Although I have to say: I miss Rovaniemi, surprisingly jealous of their early snow and miss my friends a lot too. My path may lead me back some day, but definitely going to visit as often as I can. I think choosing Lapland UAS was the best decision I could have, given
all the nurturing, opportunities & the welcoming people I met there. I am utterly grateful for my teachers, friends and colleagues from Rovaniemi & Lapland UAS  :)

Orsi Tuba, International Business graduate



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