A few surprises
Godswill was enthusiastic about moving to a totally different environment and culture. He knew he would miss home and the communal Nigerian lifestyle, but he was also looking forward to the future with an open mind.
“I was excited to make new friends and get to know the Finnish culture and learn the language,” he says.
However, he first encountered a huge culture shock when he learned that strangers don’t talk to each other in Finland. At the Kuopio campus, one of the first things he asked his Finnish student tutor was why people were not talking to him. His tutor laughed and said not to take it personally, that’s just the way Finns are – they don’t want to invade your space and privacy.
“I’ve learned to cope with the Finnish way. And I’ve met Finns who are also talkative and outgoing,” he laughs.
One thing that surprised him positively about life in Finland was how well people obey rules – something he calls “amazing”. He also points out that because of this, traffic runs smoothly and there are very few accidents.
Teaching and studying
Godswill thinks very highly of the UEF Kuopio campus and the teaching there. Even the pandemic didn’t disrupt his studies and he graduated on schedule. He praises the way in which the university has handled such a difficult situation.
“At the start of the pandemic, the university sent everybody an email asking them to go home and wait for two weeks while they figured out how to continue the studies. And that’s exactly what happened! In two weeks, the courses were back on, but this time online.”
Godswill finds the teaching systematic and effective: schedules are adhered to and plans are followed. This, he points out, makes learning smooth and helps students manage their time.
The university has a lot of international students from all over the world.
“Sharing ideas with different kinds of people and getting new viewpoints help to improve learning. I have probably met people from 30–40 different countries,” he says.
Another important point is the ratio between lecturers and students. This gives the professors time to assist the students, give them feedback and discuss whatever questions they may have.
“The staff are always willing to help. I can rely on getting assistance with whatever I need.”
Another very important aspect is the constant availability of reliable, good-quality and inexpensive internet access as well as continuous power supply. They, too, contribute to efficient studying – and are something that can’t be taken for granted everywhere.
Life in Kuopio
Kuopio is a growing city with a lot to do in your free time. All kinds of sports are available, especially football, and the ever-present nature offers opportunities to relax outdoors.
“There are a lot of trees where I live and the birds are always singing and you can easily get some fresh air. I enjoy walking in the woods with my friends, taking pictures and even picking the occasional blueberry,” Godswill chuckles.
And if you’re more into urban activities, you’re well covered in that area, too. There are lots of student activities and plenty of bars and clubs in town. What’s best, it’s very safe everywhere – in Godswill’s experience, there’s no need to fear anything even when cycling across town at two in the morning.
At the moment, Godswill is waiting to get funding for a PhD programme in order to start his post-graduate studies. He also continues to work as a project researcher, expanding on his Master’s thesis, and is actively looking for a job in the industry. He is doing his best to learn the language and he speaks Finnish a lot with his friends, but demands for “native-level excellency” seem to be a barrier on his way. Godswill is someone who eagerly takes up challenges and invests in his personal development, and it would be, in his words, “a waste of a qualification” if he didn’t find a job in the area.
Otherwise, Godswill describes Finland as “beautiful and perfect”. From the application process to switching to online learning and getting his diploma, everything has gone smoothly.
“I had a paradigm shift when I came to study here because of how amazing it was for me,” he says.
For those who are considering coming to Finland and studying at the UEF, this is what he has to say:
“Take up the opportunity to study in a country with one of the best educational systems in the world. The UEF offers scholarships and with internationally recognised programmes and degrees. The university also does a lot of international research collaboration. Why wouldn’t you want to come here?”