Sharing my experiences from my time in Finland
Under enormous influence of the current pandemic, for some people, this radiant summer of 2020 might not be as entertaining as they originally thought. However, for international students pursuing their educational degrees at DIT, there are still several approaches to create the most memorable experiences. Nothing sounds better than accomplishing great academic knowledge while at the same time, getting familiar with a new beguiling country, tasting authentic local food and befriending amazing multicultural people from all over the world. Travelling and studying? Why not choose both?!
Summer 2018 was the time when I made one of the most important decisions in my life – applying for an Erasmus+ exchange semester abroad. Yet, the result turned out to be even more fascinating than I could have ever imagined.
Owning a financial budget of up to €14.7 billion for the period of 2014-2020, this special funding programme from the European Union has been providing exceptional educational opportunities for over 10 million participants in total, including over 4 million talented students, to study, practice, volunteer or gain experiences abroad.
Taking part in Erasmus+, as a student, one enjoys numerous benefits. First, the program is fully sponsored. Erasmus+ students do not have to pay any tuition fees at the university abroad. Second, students are supported financially with an amount of € 330-450 per month, depending on the host country, to help with rent and other personal living expenses. In addition, by joining Erasmus+, students will have the exclusive chance to acquire further knowledge in a completely different environment along with valuable life-skills and international competencies they gain for personal, professional as well as academic self-development. Moreover, possibilities to improve language proficiency, intercultural understanding or self-confidence can be achieved during the time spent abroad.
Deggendorf Institute of Technology is cooperating with over 190 partner universities worldwide, offering a broad range of choices for students to select their dream “semester-stop”. I chose Finland – home country of the famous Santa Claus and highly rated by a majority of international students as “the best place to study in Europe”. Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) was my host institute. The campus is located at a small seaside city named Pori, 245km north-west of the capital city Helsinki. Pori boasts an old-world charm with a gentle touch of modern-day services and artistic vibes.
I was welcomed and picked up at my arrival in Pori by an international tutor assigned prior by the host university. She drove me to my dormitory room, which was neatly organised and sorted out by the SAMK International Office team in advance. The room, to my surprise, was extremely spacious, squeakily clean and fully furnished. My first night in Finland was just smooth and lovely.
The next day I went to SAMK and paid my first visit for mobility registration. Pori campus is built in a modernised and extraordinarily eye-catching design. However, what actually made my heart race out of excitement was the interior. Stepping inside the building, it caught my attention at how the campus utilised natural lights with open ceilings giving an immediate feeling of comfort. Sofas shaped in the form of the university’s logo are placed sequentially in the hallway so visitors and students can take rest while waiting for their friends or classes to start. The university also provides a unique “smart-charging” booth with all types of phone and laptop chargers, which come in separate lockers for students to use whenever needed. Worried about batteries running low? This will never be the case at SAMK!
I started my first classes at SAMK with both surprise and satisfaction. My class timetable and assignment schedule were all published online at the beginning of the course, keeping students in check of their own schedule and time management. You can always check which assignment is due on which day to stay ahead of deadlines and compulsory paper submissions. At SAMK, classes are taught in small groups of 10-15 people to ensure the best possible study quality. Thus, study programmes always vary based on each student’s preferences. One of my favourite courses was “Digital Trends in Tourism”, which showed us the renovation of Artificial Intelligence and its raising critical contribution in the new tourism industry. We were offered to try Augmented Reality devices and introduced to an AI-featured robot, developed by the university’s student engineer team. After the completion of this course, I have gained complementary knowledge that not only helped to strengthen what I have learned previously at DIT, but also gave me new perspectives and insights about my study field.
During the four months spent at SAMK, I met and got to know many other international exchange students. They all came from various European countries such as Spain, Turkey, France, Italy and Sweden. Together, we joined hands in lots of university events including hosting a boxing night for the town residents and organising a Christmas party for students at SAMK. Thanks to Erasmus+, my social and communication skills have flourished. I was able to express myself, speak out my opinions, share my ideas and learn how to make compromises and work in a team better than ever before. I realised one of the benefits of Erasmus is precisely that: you get to find out how to be more tolerant and open-minded towards other people.
There are many more reasons why you should challenge yourself by going on a semester abroad. Higher employability is one of the main reasons and might as well be one of the most significant benefits of the Erasmus+ exchange program. A mobility stay in a foreign country helps to boost your CV besides making you stand out in the crowd of graduates on the job market. Various studies have shown that about 64% of employers consider an international experience to be significant for future recruitment of candidates. Thus, candidates with experiences in an exchange programme, such as Erasmus+, will demonstrate the possession of both initiative and proactivity, which are crucial for prospective jobs.
As you can see, the benefits of Erasmus+ are endless. By the end of your Erasmus+ semester, you will have plenty of interesting stories to proudly share and many unforgettable memories that you will keep close to your heart forever. I was lucky to have had this opportunity.
What about you? Are you interested in signing up for an Erasmus+ exchange in the next semester? Do you need more information to clear any doubts? Then don’t hesitate to contact the International Office via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or check out their website.
Ha Nguyen is an outgoing and benevolent Vietnamese native pursuing her Master’s degree at DIT’s European Campus Rottal-Inn who wishes to pass on the compassion of positive vibes through her enthusiastic writings.