Study exchanges and the double-degree programme

Currently, I am pursuing what is known as a joint Double-degree masters in Molecular Medicine. What does it mean? Read this blog to learn more.

My story about choosing the double-degree programme

For me, the idea of changing my life came from a new year’s resolution. I wanted to see more and try out new things! I was excited about all the possibilities of travelling. I also wanted to switch from a healthcare practice-based career to a research-based which was my lifelong passion.

When I was applying to universities for the master’s programme, I was looking for something specific. Something that would support my transition between two great sub-disciplines of life sciences, something that would allow me to plan my studies, something unique on my resume and something flexible so that I could learn from multiple sources. It was equally important for me to experience the culture of Europe – simply because I had never done that before!

A brand new adventure

During my extensive search, I happened to find the double-degree master’s programme in Molecular Medicine. There were some simple reasons why I chose it. First, I saw that the university that offered the programme was in Oulu, Finland.

Even though the only things I knew about Finland back then were that this is where the Nokia phone company was founded and had one of the best schooling systems in the world. As I researched more, I was increasingly impressed by the study programme and things like the high happiness index, progressive society, environmental consciousness, beautiful landscapes, the Northern lights, and the Nordic culture.

In addition, the master’s degree I was looking at came with a possibility of a double-degree programme with the University of Ulm, Germany. I learned the German language as a hobby and revered Germany for its globally regarded higher education. I frankly didn’t think I would be able to get in, but I figured - Why shouldn’t I dream?

Fast forward, when I finally arrived in Finland last December, I found myself walking in knee-deep snow, heading towards my apartment, thinking about how crazy it is that I am walking on a different continent.

On the one hand, I was curious about how I will manage, while on the other, it was impossible to contain my excitement about how lovely the winter here was. I felt like I was in a Christmas movie; the frozen trees appeared like they were made of glass, the snow fell onto my hoodie, and I could see the perfect shape of the snowflake, the houses looked like they were made of gingerbread because of all the snow on the top that reminded me of icing! I was beyond thrilled!

Sorry I got so off-topic!

It was a dream come true

Coming back to the double-degree studies, it was a dream come true when the interview went well, and I got accepted to go to Germany for the summer semester. Luckily, the Erasmus funding supported the programme, which helped me financially with the rent and travel expenses.

The University of Oulu also had a separate compensation during the pandemic time for Covid related expenses, which covered the Covid testing-related costs. Ulm University also supported me greatly during the pandemic.

The lectures were offered remotely until it was safe to gather in groups. The university also had free testing and vaccination for all. When the availability of the vaccine was limited, this immensely helped the students.

My favourite part of the academics in Germany was the practical research internship. During this internship, I worked with different research groups where I was given my own project. I received necessary training until I felt confident to work independently, and then I was given guidance on discussing and presenting my results scientifically.

I felt like being in Germany improved my knowledge and skills. I was also able to practice general things like professionalism, ethical research and social mannerisms. I made some unforgettable friends who made me feel at home. We travelled to many wonderful places and created cherished memories together!

Currently, I am back in Finland, doing my thesis project - and I love how these things make me happy about the choices I have made so far. If someone like me is interested in experiencing education in multiple universities and life in different countries, there are various Erasmus exchange programmes provided by the University of Oulu that could be your cup of tea.

About the author

Niyati Kandikanti from India is studying Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the University of Oulu. She had never travelled abroad before coming to Oulu, and now her travel list has been growing ever since.