"Students Have Been Very Responsive" – PhD Elizabeth Whitney

​PhD Elizabeth Whitney's stay in Finland has been short but productive. She came to Finland by the request of Professor of Media Studies Susanna Paasonen. Whitney and her Finnish colleagues share an interest in digital storytelling.

– Finland has been very welcoming to me. Once I got here, people have been incredibly generous in connecting me to the networks of academics and artists, says Whitney cheerfully.

Whitney came to the University of Turku through the exchange programme of the Fulbright Center that aims to promote research collaboration between Finland and North America. At the United States, she is an Assistant Professor in the Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York.

In Turku, Whitney has participated in teaching at the Department of Media Studies and organised courses in her areas of expertise. Students at the small Department have been welcoming towards the visiting lecturer.

– The students have been very responsive to the assignments I've given them, even though teaching in Finland is very different compared with any place I have taught in the U.S.  There are three reasons for the differences: classes are smaller, I have more freedom over my class schedule, and the classes meet for shorter periods of time than in the U.S.

Short Distances a Definite Bonus

Arriving to Finland caused no problems for Whitney. The Department organised her housing near the University.

The apartment has been pleasing in every way. Whitney, who enjoys bathing, is thrilled for having a sauna in the apartment. In addition, the location near the compact University campus is a refreshing change to the researcher used to the bustle of the largest city in the United States.

– After seven years in New York, this is fantastic. I was really looking forward to a place where I could just walk everywhere.

When conducting her research, Whitney uses public transportation to reach other parts of the country. For example, travelling to Helsinki is easy.

– Certainly one of my favourite things in Finland, when compared with the U.S., is the size – not just Turku, but also the rest of the country. I’ve travelled between Helsinki and Turku a great deal, and Finnish public transportation is very efficient and clean.

– I feel I’ve made an incredible amount of connections in just two and a half months. It succeeded my expectations, actually. I’ve already done a couple of invited talks at other universities, and people have been really interested in my research.

>> Read more about Whitney's time in Finland


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