My name is Sofia Väänänen, I’m 22 years old and I’m studying journalism at Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS). My campus is situated in a region called Kupittaa in Turku. The studies will take 4 years and I’m starting my 3rd year in the Autumn 2020. In the spring 2022, I will become the Bachelor of Culture and Arts, specializing in journalism and communication. Currently I’m working at Edunation and Asia Exchange as a communications intern for the summer (3.5 months).
My hobbies include enjoying the nature, listening to true crime podcasts, cooking and spending time with my friends and family. I also love to explore Finland and since distances in Finland are quite small, it’s easy to visit different cities. Some of my favorite cities in Finland are Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Tammisaari and Porvoo.
I have to say that Finland has survived really well of the COVID-19 situation. The Finnish education system emphasize self-oriented working methods and the studies are quite independent. So in that sense, it wasn’t difficult.
What are the best things you love about Finland / Europe?
In Finland, I would say the best thing is the freedom of living your life how you want. There isn’t a similar kind of pressure about achieving as there might be in several other countries. It doesn’t matter if you are 20 or 50, you can still for example begin studies or change the course of your life totally.
Of course, something worth mentioning is the Finnish nature. Everytime I’m visiting big cities abroad, I’m so fascinated by the vivid city life but after a little while you start missing the peacefulness of Finland. There is nothing better than wondering in a forest where it’s so quiet that you could almost hear a pin drop to the ground.
I also love the Finnish traditions, such as Mayday and Midsummer. It’s also super easy to travel in Europe. It only takes a few hours to travel to Tallinn, Estonia from Helsinki by a ferry. It only takes about 45 minutes by plane to travel to Stockholm, Sweden or you can travel on a cruise ship which takes around 12 hours. It’s easy to fly from Finland to other European countries. You can reach for example London, Barcelona, Lisbon, Paris or Amsterdam in 3-4 hours. And of course there are all these Nordic countries as well.
What is your current work and what is it like being a Finnish student?
I’m currently working at Edunation and Asia Exchange as a communications intern and mainly my tasks have to do with creating content for social media and website. I have really enjoyed my internship at both companies and I’ve learned a lot. It’s also nice to get to create content for students since you can identify with them on so many levels.
Student life in Finland is very vivid. We have so many different events all year around and the finnish student community is very welcoming. Also being a student brings some benefits such as discounts and economic support.
Why did you choose TUAS?
Coming from a bigger city, here in Turku, I really enjoy that everything is now in walking distance. Whether you are going to the university, grocery store, hospital, city centre or train station, everything is close by.
The reason why I chose to study in TUAS was because I wanted to study journalism in a university of applied sciences. This study program was available in Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki and in TUAS. The reason why I chose to apply to TUAS was because I wanted to get a change of scenery. The reason why I chose to study journalism was because I have always been creative, a good writer and interested in the society so I searched for something that would combine all of those.
I’m originally from Helsinki where I lived for the first 20 years of my life. So I decided to only apply to Turku. I have completely fallen in love with Turku. I would say that it is quite similar to Helsinki but just a little smaller. Coming from a bigger city, I really enjoy that everything is now in walking distance. Whether you are going to the university, grocery store, hospital, city centre or train station, everything is close by.
The architecture is beautiful and my favorite thing about the city is the river dividing the old and new part of Turku. There are these restaurant boats on the riverside where you can enjoy the sunny days on the deck. This definitely attracts people during the summertime and the riverside is filled with happy people. For a moment, you sort of forget that you are in Finland because the atmosphere almost feels like you are in central Europe.
TUAS as a school is very nice. We have many student communities that arrange events and different student gatherings and orientations. I would say that Turku is one of the centres of student life in Finland and it is famous for its student events such as Pikkulaskiainen.
Challenges during the global pandemic, how did you surpass the challenges?
I have to say that Finland has survived really well of the COVID-19 situation. Of course around March and April the situation was challenging around the globe and it was a big shock to Finnish people because we are so used to feeling safe, but it was a good wake up call that something like this can happen here too.
Overall, Finland has been dealing with the situation very well and since the beginning of May I feel like things have slowly but surely gotten back to normal and right now everyone is living their lives like before, but of course keeping in mind that the situation isn’t fully over.
When it comes to studies, before the pandemic, most of our courses had been arranged on campus so it was a little challenging to adjust to the new normal when all courses where moved online. After a little while I got used to the new working methods and there were no problems. I think the biggest thing that helped me with online studies was creating a schedule. It really puts you in a totally different mood if you wake up at a certain time and get ready for the day just like you would normally do.
The Finnish education system emphasize self-oriented working methods and the studies are quite independent. So in that sense, it wasn’t difficult. I think there are positive sides to online studying as well because it teaches you self-discipline and motivation.
Advice for students planning to study abroad/ planning to pursue studies abroad?
I have personally never studied abroad but from what I can say from working with international students and this company, it will for sure be a life changing experience. My tips would be to do your research and find something that really interests you. Once you get to Finland, be active and socialize.
Would you like to know more about TUAS study programs and career opportunities in Finland?