University travel grant is a significant support for exchange students

Ida Grønmo, a Northern Sámi, is in her fourth year of studying Sámi language and Sámi culture at the University of Oulu. In the spring of 2023, she went on exchange to the University of Montana to gain new experiences.
Ida Grønmo
Ida Grønmo went on exchange to the University Montana in spring 2023.

Studying abroad in Montana taught positivity

What sparked your interest in studying abroad and how did you choose your destination?

I knew before I started my studies that I wanted to go abroad to experience something completely different. I wanted to go somewhere further away from Europe as I had the opportunity to spend an extended period abroad. You can study Sámi language and culture in Kautokeino or Tromsø, but I visit those places anyway. In the end, my choice was the University of Montana for the spring semester of 2023.

What was the application process like?

The application process was quite complex. I remember writing my first motivational letter over a year before in the autumn. However, the relatively laborious application process proved to be worth all the effort and anxiety when I finally got the opportunity to study abroad.

What did you study in Montana?

I went abroad for the experience and the cultural exchange. I followed my own interests and took courses in ceramics and photography, among others. Photography has been beneficial in my work at Yle Sápmi, and I tried to keep my ceramics projects small enough to fit in my suitcase when returning home.

I also took some courses in Native American studies. The teachers were very interested in Finland and the Sámi people.

In general, people knew a surprising amount about Finland, for example that it is the happiest country in the world and that there are a lot of blondes.

How much did the six-month exchange program cost?

I went abroad through the ISEP organisation, which included accommodation, meals, and tuition. It was a big advantage not to have to pay separately for rent or food. There was a student cafeteria on campus with food available from morning to night.

The program cost 3600 euros, of which 2200 euros was covered by the university travel grant. The support was, of course, significant. I covered the remaining part with savings from my job and support from Kela (The Social Insurance Institution of Finland). Additionally, I had to pay for expenses such as visa, language test, insurance, and flights.

What kind of insights do you feel you gained from studying abroad?

Studying abroad was a fantastic experience. It further broadened my mind, even though I already considered myself quite open-minded before studying abroad. The world is so different outside of Finland.

I was surprised by how nice, polite, and positive Americans are. As a reserved Finn, I wasn't used to that at all! There weren't many other exchange students in Montana, but that didn't bother me at all. It was easy to make friends with the Americans. We had some really great trips together.

I feel like I've picked up some of the American positivity, and I've started to appreciate positivity in a different way. They didn't complain about the little things.

A jewelry box and an almond were created during Ida´s ceramics studies. Some of the pieces remained with new friends in Montana.

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