Interesting Studies and Great Experiences – Erasmus Exchange at University Consortium of Pori
Natalie Koscielny and Liepa Mažulytė are Erasmus students at the University Consortium of Pori. Natalie is an MA student in Media and Communication from the University of Passau in Germany, and currently an exchange student at Turku School of Economics, and Liepa is a BA student in Entertainment Industries from Vilnius Gediminas Technical University in Lithuania, and is now studying at Tampere University of Technology.
What made you decide to go to Finland for your Erasmus exchange?
Liepa (on the right in the photo):
At first, I actually wanted to go south. So from exchange places offered by my home university, I first considered Spain and Cyprus, among others, but then I thought: Well, there is Finland, too. I was really curious about the educational system here, and that became the reason for me to choose Finland over the countries in Southern Europe.
Natalie (on the left in the photo):
For me it was quite similar. I haven’t been to Finland before, and it wasn’t the first place I considered for my Erasmus exchange. Still, when I saw it was available, I thought about it and was also very curious about the educational system here of which I had already heard so many good things.
From your experience with the Finnish education system so far, what are the differences compared to your home countries?
I think the biggest difference to my studies in Lithuania is the importance of group work. While I was used to working in groups for presentations before, it became a much more central part of my studies in Finland. Here, we discuss topics in small groups basically on each lecture and are encouraged to make our own arguments in open discussions. That makes our everyday studies here very interactive.
Well, I was used to this kind of group work before, but compared to my studies in Germany, the workload here seems more balanced to me. Here, you really stay active and learn during the whole semester, not just for exams at the end. It makes you work more constantly, and I really appreciate that. I also like the possibility of taking e-lectures and e-exams online at a time of my choice.
What are your overall impressions on Pori University Campus?
All the arrangements have been great from the start. In the beginning, we had a really nice orientation week, for example. It was very informative about health care, housing, the University, exams and pretty much everything we needed to know when we started our studies.
True, everything functions very well here. Whenever you have a question and send an email to a contact person, you always get a helpful reply – and usually within a very short time. The University also does a great job in organising events and parties as well.
And how about life in Finland so far? What effect has it had on you already?
In one word: Relaxing. To me, everything in Finland works in a quite relaxed way. Nature is always nearby and there is a general feeling of having much space for yourself everywhere and all time. Even if studies keep you quite active here, Finland has had a very relaxing effect on me already.
From your perspective as a foreign student, what is the most positive thing here in Finland?
I think it is in the nature of the Finnish educational system that raises open-minded and free-thinking persons. So not only is there a lot of physical space in Finland, it also allows you a great deal of space for thinking creatively. For example, you have more writing assignments than exams and with the e-exams available, you don’t have to take exams on a certain day and at a certain time. You can choose when and where to take them. I like very much how people are taught to make their own decisions and to think and work independently.
When going back home, what will you take with you from the experience here?
A semester abroad definitely gives you self-confidence and makes you more self-aware. Also, it has been quite an interesting experience for me academically. For example, I took some marketing lectures here, a field related to my Media and Communication studies and I haven’t known much about it so far. For my Master’s thesis, I could now imagine bringing in some new points and perspectives that I picked up here.
For me, there is also a quite good connection between the courses I chose here and my studies at home. So when I go back, I can use what I have learned here and continue with it. The exchange has also been very good for improving my English of course.Aside from that, exploring Finland as new culture from the inside is also a great experience. I have discovered that Finns are peaceful and respectful people.
Text and photo: Johann Comolle