I’m quite certain that every city has its own vibe, its own atmosphere. It’s like every city has a life of its own, which eventually starts to influence yours. That’s why it’s so important to choose the city with the vibe you like, the vibe you can relate to. If you chose wrong, you end up being influenced by something alien to you, something you don’t feel connected to.
For me it was always about the connection. When I made that life-changing choice to go study abroad, I wasn’t choosing just the University I was going to study in. I was choosing the city, too. And I felt that the choice I was on the verge of making was a really important one – after all, the consequence of that choice was to be the move to the city in which I would be living in for at least the next two years of my life, which is quite a long time on anyone’s clock.
Thus I figured that the only way to choose right from the options I had was to check out the Universities and the cities in person. And there was no other way to pull this off other than packing my bag and going on the road. Which I did. Without giving it too much thought, I took a road trip to the cities I was choosing between - without having any expectations or background knowledge sort of on purpose.
When I reached Oulu, the city somehow stood out and felt right to me right off the bat. However, during that first visit I couldn’t believe I was fairly close to the Arctic Circle – it was May and it was somehow abnormally hot (like plus 35 or something as crazy as that), which made me reconfirm my whereabouts on the map a couple of times. The sun was hardly ever below the horizon, which was a whole new experience to me. The heat and constant sunshine aside, I felt like the city had a vibe I really enjoyed and the University looked great. It took me less than a day to make my choice and up to this day I feel this choice was the right one.
Now, 3 years later, I’m still in Oulu and I don’t regret that even a single bit, as those years were probably the best 3 years of my life so far. I have almost finished my studies, met a lot of truly wonderful people, made some of those life-changing decisions, the importance of which I won’t even start trying to describe or evaluate here, changed 4 jobs, did loads of voluntary work, found the job I love, travelled to the places I couldn’t even imagine travelling to, developed myself and much more. Because of all of the things which happened to me here I can surely say that Oulu will always have a special place in my heart and I’m pretty certain I would always look forward to coming back.
But yeah, initially I came here to get my Master’s Degree in Learning, Education and Technology (my second Master's degree). That programme got me interested, as I felt it could add value to my pedagogical background and expand my expertise. Besides, I had heard a lot of great stuff about Finnish education, known for its effectiveness, flexibility and modernity – if you still haven’t read enough about that, please do yourself a favor and google it. University of Oulu surpassed my expectations – not only it is, in my humble opinion, a great place to study, but also a great place to meet people from all over the world, as the people of over 80 nationalities are studying here. Getting to know so many people from such a huge variety of different backgrounds really contributes to your self-development and open-mindedness, which is a value of its own. Besides, I was really glad to find out that behind all that diversity and all those things modern there was still a human touch to be felt and the personal approach to be seen. As Arthur C. Clark once said, “A teacher who can be replaced by the machine, should be” and I guess the same goes for all the people in general. That sounds pretty damn close to the universal truth, if you ask me.
Long story short, both the University and the city have a lot to offer to you if you keep your eyes open, remain active and chase the opportunities. There are always events you can participate in or organize, great causes to volunteer for and awesome courses and programmes which can help you to become a better version of yourself. Speaking of the latter, one of the first of such programmes for me was the University of Oulu’s very own Alumni Ambassador programme, which is open to all Master’s Degree students and graduates. Thanks to this programme, I learnt more about my University already during my first months, improved skills valuable for working life, experienced what it’s like to work on the super crowded fairs representing the University and more. In addition to all of the above mentioned, it’s run by some of the best people you can ever meet here, trust me. I’m proud to call myself the Alumni Ambassador of my University and I always will be. That programme helped me to develop the feeling of belonging and emotional attachment to my University which I have up to this day.
I truly believe that if you’ll make a choice to come to Oulu with an open mind and try connecting to the city and its people, it all will connect back to you.
Last updated: 8.11.2017