02.07.2021, Learning Scoop
Finland through an immigrant’s eyes
Freedom of expression, communication, unleashed creativity, valuing other’s opinion and encouraging dialogues, amongst many other attributes, have featured my university studies in a country that has been dominantly ranking the happiest in the world for several years, and more importantly one of the top countries for higher education studies. I am referring to “Suomi”, Finland.
My pursuit to complete higher education studies back in my life in the UK was unfulfilled and seemed to be more of a luxury that I did not qualify to afford just like many others, not due to my academic achievements, but to the financial requirements, which derive first and foremost from the exaggerated tuition fees, and second from the living expenses.
While sitting in one of my several meetings with this TE-toimisto – a local job center, a social public bureau devoted to assisting residents (Finnish and immigrants) in Finland, my plan was drawn based on my wishes I revealed to a “valmentaja” – my designated coach who oversees and guides me through my initial integration phases in the country. Yet, when the drawn plan was printed, I raised my concern regarding the tuition payments and any possibilities of scholarships, the lady smiled and responded optimistically, access to education is a basic right every individual enjoys without any restrictions or pre-requisites in this country.
Now, I am realizing my long-awaited dream of pursuing my higher education at TAMK, a university of applied sciences based in the third-largest city in Finland, Tampere. This city as though feels it was constructed to accommodate students, with all the amenities it provides- excellent transport links in and out the city, libraries in almost every single neighbourhood, high standards student accommodation with very affordable rent prices, entertainment and sports facilities, and countless public health centres or as called in Finnish “terveysasema” across the city.
In addition to the tuition fee waiver, the Finnish authorities have also provided me with housing benefits and discounts to many services, and this almost implies that “the right to education” becomes “the obligation to education”; One holds no single excuse to acquire knowledge and develop oneself.
In a few words, I could define my learning experience at TAMK university to be highly satisfactory and enriching, due to many factors; Communication with teachers, no matter their rank, does not require titles in addressing them, and this virtually eradicates “communication barriers” between me and my teachers in any communication style. Plus, active learning is highly adopted and has granted us, as students, higher levels of engagements and participation in courses, to a point sometimes we were responsible for constructing our lesson content through an open discussion with our lecturers.
Exams and grades are the least appreciated aspects of our learning style, while on contrary, emphasis is given to the level of understanding one collects from a certain topic, through a research-based learning approach, whereby, we search and search about a topic and put the acquired theories into some practical projects.
My understanding of the term a “team player” has been considerably upgraded in this Finnish learning concept, where team projects and assignments are delivered through teamwork, where every one of us is ought to contribute actively and creatively to a learning project, prove him/herself while respecting other’s perspectives and role.
Despite my struggle with the weather conditions and dark winter days, the sun in Finland always shines after a lengthy winter, allows us to enjoy the beauty of the virgin and dense forest, fragmented with thousands of stunning swimming and fishing lakes.
At this very moment, I am writing this blog post on a sunny beautiful summer day, as I am undertaking my internship at Learning Scoop company to practise some of my earned skills during my studies, contribute with my existing professional expertise in the field of education, and seize the opportunity to learn further from my highly educated colleagues. Finally, I say, if you have ever dreamt of living a safe, supportive, enriching, and tranquil life, seek nowhere else than the land of saunas.