The world has come here to study, innovate, and interact

Some people call my life an adventure because of all the places I've been, people I've met, and experiences I've had. I'm Sarah, a teacher from Canada and I came to the University of Oulu to take the Education and Globalisation master of arts program from 2018-2020. This program not only fits well with my past experience of teaching in Canada, France, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, and Myanmar, but also gives me the opportunity to meet students from around the world and learn about their contexts. Although Oulu is a small city in northern Finland and it might seem like it is very remote, the world has come here to study, innovate, and interact through the international masters programs at the University of Oulu.

Having ten years of work experience after my undergraduate degree, I wasn't sure how well I would fit in with my classmates, but I was pleased to find that they are a very diverse group in terms of age, background, and previous experience, and I can connect with them all in meaningful ways.  We have a small cohort in Education and Globalisation, so we've had the chance to meet outside of class for events like visiting the river sauna and sharing a multicultural dinner. Our teachers (they don't like the formal title of "professor" here!) are very relatable and work with us individually to achieve our best in the program, no matter what background we come from or what challenges we are facing. We also have "kummi students" who are in the second year of the program who give us advice and support with everything from airport pick-ups to study tips.

One of my favourite things about the Linnanmaa area of Oulu are all the trees - beautiful pines and birches that line the walking and biking trails to and from campus. It's so refreshing to walk through this natural environment at the end of a long day of study or to smell the wet leaves in the rain. Most things I need are within easy walking or biking distance of my shared apartment - supermarkets (3!), walking trails (too many to count!), the university campus, and the gym. Our apartment complex has an amazing reservation system so that everyone living there can book laundry, sauna, and common room time when we need it. Life in Finland seems to be very well-organized!

While I'm here in Oulu, I hope to take advantage of opportunities for language learning (classes, tandem partners, student organizations), outdoor activities (hiking, swimming), and building new skills (swing dance, social media presence, new recipes). I've already had the chance to travel to Haparanda, Sweden, for a day to shop at Ikea in its home country! In any case, I meet new people from different places every day and just a simple conversation sometimes leads to connections I didn't expect and the chance to try something new.

Part of life here is an attitude of independence that you need to embrace in order to take up these opportunities and responsibilities. We need to foster this attitude as students, but also in our daily life. So, I encourage you to take the first step as an independent international student to reach out to me or one of the other Alumni Ambassadors to learn how the University of Oulu can become a part of your life's adventure too!

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Last updated: 25.6.2020