(Finnish for ‘Hello’)
My name is Esther Konijn and I am one of the third year students of the BSc Tourism program. Currently I am studying in Finland at the University of Helsinki in order to earn my 30 ECTS of the minor program. I really love it that we have the opportunity, as BSc Tourism students, to study abroad for a semester and I do not regret my choice of studying abroad for a single moment!
Living in and exploring another country for a while, has always been a wish for me. I have a big passion for travelling and for discovering and getting to know new cultures and this fitted perfectly by studying abroad. However to end up abroad, first quite some work had to be accomplished.
It is very important to get sorted out what kind of topics you would like to study in your minor. When you have figured this out, it is easier to select a nice place to fulfil your minor, because you know where to look for in this huge set of universities in the Netherlands and abroad. I figured out I had an interest in consumer behaviour studies, but also in developing countries. I tried to look for a university which offered subjects in both of the two fields. It took me quite some time to look into all the offers of the different universities and to find out which ones where applicable for me. But in the end, all these invested hours are really worth the effort!
So I ended up in the capital of Finland, Helsinki or in tourism terms; ‘the daughter of the Baltic Sea’. I had never been to Finland before and therefore I was very excited to go there. It felt a bit as a hidden place, a place I would not easily go for a holiday or a city trip and therefore as a really good place for exploration, because I knew so little about it. And it definitely is an amazing place to spend a semester! First of all, the nature is stunning over here; a lot of lakes and natural parks which are perfect for a good hike, a long run, some camping or swimming when you are really brave (the water is freezing cold, even in the summer!). Even though I live in the capital city, there is enough nature as well. The city is surrounded by the sea and little islands and plenty of national parks are close by.
Furthermore, the educational system is well developed over here. The students are very concentrated and motivated and the lectures are somewhat more interactive as in the Netherlands. They like to have good discussions over here and the level of English of the Finnish students and teachers (actually of every Finnish person in the metropolitan area) is excellent. In the past, I sometimes have been quite critical about the BSc program, but here in Finland I came to the conclusion that I have learned a lot in the first two years. I have developed good academic skills in writing, presenting and expressing myself in English if I compare it to fellow exchange students. Furthermore, because the BSc program has such a broad foundation, with a lot of different disciplines intertwined, I learned a lot of different theories developed by important scholars. Over here, I figured out that these theories are even often applicable in completely new study fields.
And last, but certainly not least, the international life is booming over here. I live at a campus where only exchange students live so this makes it an excellent place for international dinners, big parties and sauna relax moments. I have met people from all over the world and am getting to know their cultures better and better. In addition, the city is full with entertainment; parties, festivals, food events and other cultural events. So I am actually never bored. Finland is also a good location to make different trips, for example to explore the other Nordic countries (Stockholm, Oslo, Lapland) or to visit Russia and Tallinn by cruise ships.
At the moment, I am in the middle of the semester and can only say time passes by way too quickly. So if you are interested in studying abroad, make the effort to look for a suitable university. So far, my minor abroad is a special and amazing experience!