Student experiences

Here you can find some of our international students sharing their views on what it's like to study at UEF:

Oliver Trimmel | Exchange Student, Medicine

My name is Oliver, I am 24 years old, and I am a fifth-year medical student from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria. During my six-month stay at the University of Eastern Finland, I attended practical training at the Kuopio University Hospital. My exchange was made possible through Erasmus+, which is an exchange programme provided by the European Union.

“Why did you choose to come to Finland?” is a frequently asked question that I have often heard. I chose Finland because I was always interested in the Nordic countries and Finland, being the odd one out with its distinctive language, culture and history, convinced me to settle for this beautiful country in the cold north.

“So, how did you end up in Kuopio then?” is a typical, crowd-favourite follow-up question from which I couldn’t escape. Finland is best known for being “The Land of a Thousand Lakes” (more like 188,000 to be precise) and due to the fact that Kuopio lies right in the heart of lake land surrounded by untouched nature, I could not resist this lovely city.

I still remember my first day at the hospital. Doctors as well as nurses greeted me with a warm welcome while I was served coffee, cake, and given a tour around the ward. Although there was a language barrier, it did not take me long to feel as if I was part of the team. In no time at all I was leading discussions on patients and performing my own examinations.

The doctors encouraged me to ask questions whenever there was something unclear and were never short of translating every single detail from the patient’s chart in order to help me understand what was happening. This is how I also learned about the Finns’ true nature. Finnish people are not shy and silent people but a nation of kind-hearted and polite people who will help you to solve your problems if you are just willing to ask them.

Overall, the work environment was easy-going, stress-free, and educational. My experience taught me a vital lesson about life, namely, that there is a time and place for everything and that there is actually no need to stress out about minor inconveniences when they arise. I learned to embrace those petty day-to-day troubles and become a more balanced person all in all.

In addition, I deeply appreciated that the University of Eastern Finland values the communication between students, professors, and university staff. The fact that there is no such thing as hierarchy in Finland makes it incredibly simple to reach out to essentially everyone with your questions and make yourself understood.

Of course, an exchange is not just about studying. Thanks to KISA (Kuopio International Students’ Association), I met plenty of students from all around the globe to share my experiences with and made friends for a lifetime. In addition, having an international network of people may help you with your future career as well.

The Finnish language is claimed to be one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn, but that should not stop you from trying. I studied Finnish prior to my exchange as well as during my exchange and by the end of the term, I could understand a fair bit of what people around me were talking about. Of course, almost everybody speaks English, but if you can manage an authentic “Terve” and “Kiitos” when paying for your lunch, the cashier might flash a smile in return.

In conclusion, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend my exchange at UEF and highly recommend it to anyone who is not sure about where they would like to go. You might be surprised what you can find the Middle of (K)nowhere.


Aitor Barbero | Master’s Degree Programme in Wood Materials Science

My name is Aitor Barbero. I come from the Basque Country, located in the north of Spain, a region that some people say that has similarities with Finland. I’m a second year student in the international Master’s Degree Programme Wood Materials Science in this university.

I can only say good things about UEF. I knew which country I was coming to when I decided to come to this university, but I didn’t know the city or the university, so I didn’t know what the experience would be like. After more than one year, I can simply say that it has been the best choice I could make. I’m learning a lot about wood materials and other topics that I’m interested in, and I’m also improving in many skills, for example, my generic skills and scientific writing. In addition, the studying environment and the student-teacher relations are really good.

Studying at UEF is beneficial for my future in that firstly, I will get an international Master’s degree, which will open many doors for me. What I would really like to do is to go for a PhD, and thanks to the Master’s programme and my English skills, which have improved a lot since studying here, I think that it will be much easier. In addition, studying in an international environment with people from all around the world will help me to adapt to any country I have to go for studying or working.

I would recommend UEF to others.  In fact, I have already done so.  I think that studying in this university is great, and for others like me, coming from other countries, it’s an experience that one will never forget. A good international studying environment combined with a nice place to live in makes UEF a nice university to study in. I personally feel that coming here is one of the best choices anyone can make.

Angela Blanco | Master’s Degree Programme in Biomedicine

My name is Angela Blanco, I’m 23 years old and native of Spain. I’m currently studying in the two-year Master’s Degree Programme in Biomedicine at the University of Eastern Finland. I found out about the programme from a friend who was studying at UEF and told me about her nice experiences.

In my previous Bachelor’s level studies in Spain, I was awarded an Erasmus+ scholarship to do an internship in a foreign country, and after the nice experiences I had from abroad, I decided to go overseas for my MSc. I started to look for different MSc programmes and universities around Europe. Then, after comparing many options and countries I had in mind, I finally decided to choose the University of Eastern Finland. UEF’s two-year Master’s Degree Programme in Biomedicine offers a full academic curriculum, biomedicine seminars, in-depth practical work with advanced laboratory techniques and professional development. The programme also includes a course for the Felasa license, which is needed and valid basically in all European countries if you are going to work as a biomedicine researcher. Moreover, I was motivated by the natural environment by the lake of the Kuopio Campus, and by the easy access by bike, bus or other transports.

The University of Eastern Finland was my first choice because of the options it offers and because the university is home to the world-class A.I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences. At the moment, I have funding to develop my Master’s thesis and I’m also having opportunities for socializing with other international students and researchers. I think this experience in the University of Eastern Finland will help me a lot in my future professional career thanks to the MSc studies being carried out in English and the laboratory experience offered by the programme.

I strongly recommend the University of Eastern Finland to everyone, to students, professors and researchers. You will find an excellent learning environment with friendly student-teacher interaction and excellent laboratory facilities.

Jan Goh | Master’s Degree Programme in Linguistic Sciences

I’m Jan from Singapore and I’m currently a student of UEF’s International Master’s Degree Programme in Linguistic Sciences (Translation Studies and Technology). My time at UEF has been an enriching and enjoyable one, meeting fellow students from a variety of disciplines and cultural backgrounds. It has been truly fascinating to discuss different cultural practices with the other course mates and staff. While it was slightly challenging initially to get used to the change in teaching styles and different education system, student support groups such as ESN (Erasmus Student Network) and ISYY (Student Union of the University of Eastern Finland) as well as my teachers have been more than helpful whenever I run into any difficulties and require their assistance. This has greatly facilitated my transition into the new environment. Thanks to them I now feel very much at home at UEF and in Joensuu. In addition, the myriad of exciting student organisations and extra-curricular seminars available have given me many options to spend my free time and experience new things. For instance, I had the chance to join other international students in trying out traditional Finnish activities like winter swimming and attend seminars like the KäTu symposium for translators to learn about current trends in the translation work and research industries.

Furthermore, there is great flexibility and academic freedom at UEF when it comes to planning my course of studies. I had free access to most of the courses available in the university and this allowed me to work with my professors to tailor a curriculum that is both relevant and suitable for my future aspirations as a translator. My professors have also been extremely encouraging and supportive in helping me acquire additional translation skills I’m interested in. They have, for example, been supporting me on my work in subtitling and different translation text types. UEF also possesses several state-of-the-art technologies, for instance eye-tracking devices which have inspired many students from my cohort to incorporate into their Master’s theses. Most importantly, I feel that the professors have structured their lessons such that the theoretical aspects of the topics are taught in tandem with real-life examples and references. In other words, there is a lot of focus on both theory and practice and we get a clear demonstration of how what has been taught in the classroom can be applied to work. I believe that such lessons would be advantageous for not only students seeking work in Finland but also elsewhere in the world.

 In short, I would definitely recommend UEF to potential students looking to further their studies. My time at the university has opened up a multitude of opportunities for me to forge friendships, build up my working portfolio and network with other like-minded people, and I believe that studying at UEF would do the same for them.

Mai Thi Nguyen | Master’s Degree Programme in Innovation Management

My name is Nguyen Thi Mai, and I’m a Vietnamese student studying in Finland. I’m currently studying in the Master’s Degree Programme in Innovation Management at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF). I am very honoured to have a chance to share my story.

Living in an international academic environment comes with a lot of opportunities and challenges. Every semester, I have made a lot of friends from different countries and universities. At first, I was new and not really confident with my English skills, so I found it hard to socialise with others in the beginning. But after one semester, I now easily stand in a crowd telling funny stories and making friends with many kinds of people. I’ve had lots of opportunities to get to know people from all walks of life. What makes me sad is that I only get to spend a really short time with them and I have to say goodbye without knowing when we’ll meet again.

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to participate in many interesting activities that my university offers. I made friends and joined in the City Orientation and the Get to know Each Other event to participate in team activities. I was also fascinated by the beauty of the lake and the cottages I saw on a Welcome to Kuopio cruise organised for international students. Each activity is a distinctive and special experience, which creates the best impression for me about UEF and Kuopio. Many people think that Kuopio is a quiet and cold city in the north of Finland, but I actually find myself really excited with everything here – even in the winter! People go outside skating, skiing, winter swimming… and especially small kids enjoy sliding their snow sleds.

I’ve never studied abroad before coming to Finland. Everything has its first time. At UEF, the style of teaching and learning is very different from that of my country. I’ve got a deep insight into analysing literature and I’m involved in practical projects with real companies as partners. Even though our professors have extensive knowledge and expertise, they are still humble and respect students. They are facilitators who support and help you to make progress in your studies. There is almost no distance between us. You are free to express your thoughts and opinions and be yourself in classroom discussions.

Studying in UEF has given me lots of new experiences and knowledge. I’ve had a really good time doing real projects with my groups and learning from others, as well as making new friends. The curriculum also helps me to enhance my independence and self-development in studying. On the other hand, a lot of other amazing opportunities have opened up for me just by studying here. I’ll do an internship in Europe this summer, and next semester I will go on an exchange to France, which is a place I really want to go. I’m very excited about getting to discover many new things and making a lot of new friends. I would like to live and learn everyday with an upbeat attitude to face the challenges and difficulties. The internship and the exchange can make it easier for me to live and work in multinational environments with people from different cultures and traditions. This will increase my opportunities to experience international working environments, as well as open doors leading to new horizons when my aim is to work in international organisations.

One more thing that I want to share with you is learning Finnish. Learning the language is a way that enables you to know more about a country’s culture and people. Every time when I get a warm smile from a Finn who just stops his car to let me cross the street or when I think about the woman who tried to figure out a way to give me directions when I got lost even though she didn’t speak English, I feel that Finnish people are truly honest, kind and friendly even though they are famous for their distant lifestyle. That’s why I try to know more about this beautiful country of thousands of lakes and learn Finnish – one of the most difficult languages in the world. Furthermore, you can find a promising job in Finland if you have good skills in the Finnish language.

Studying in UEF is an experience that I will never forget in my life. I would like to share with other students, and especially with international students from all over the world, the excitement and gratefulness that I have felt during my studies at UEF. Thanks to the high quality of education, I now have more opportunities to develop myself and achieve new accomplishments. I knew that my life would totally change from the day I got accepted to UEF. I believe that others will enjoy every moment at UEF just as I do.


Finland - a world leader in international student satisfaction

Finland was among the winning countries in the International Student Satisfaction Awards in 2016, with an average satisfaction rate of 9.07 out of 10. The survey was carried out by StudyPortals, reflecting the views of over 15,000 international students. To learn more about the survey and the International Student Satisfaction Award, please visit the StudyPortals website.