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I wish I could go back — My life as an exchange student

It still feels like yesterday. I arrived at airport thinking “what have I done? Why did I choose Finland? WHYYYY?”. It was minus 25 and I felt like I was dying! How was I going to survive in this frozen country?

My name is Youri and I live in the Netherlands. A beautiful little country just 2,5 hours away from Helsinki Airport. I study communications and two years ago I got the brilliant idea to study abroad in Finland. In the third year of my study I got the chance to follow my minors (courses) in another country.

Normally we study for 4-5 days a week with mandatory classes. The year is divided into four periods with about 8 courses to ­complete. The main subject is a team project, in which we should use the courses from that period. I wanted to discover how this is done in another country.

Because a friend of mine went to Finland the year before, I thought: “why not…” I love traveling and it felt like a great opportunity to learn a different culture.”

Hello, can you hear me?

Wauw, people say that WE talk funny. But really, after a week I gave up with learning Finnish. I had no clue what you were saying. But I must admit. It has its charm. Fortunately, most of you speak English so we were able to communicate. And here to help me was my sweet tutor! She helped me to do groceries and to order beers. Also the student parties (thanks Laureamko) helped me to get to know the other exchange students. Although most of the people were unsure about their pronunciation and vocabulary, we had no other choice than to speak English. However it meant that after a few weeks it went better and better with everyone and almost felt naturally to speak English with each other.

There’s such a difference between us

Being used to work in project groups and work with practical issues from organizations, I thought these P2P projects would be just like home… Nope….

In the Netherlands we get roles in the group. A team leader, etc. etc. (you know the drill).

As soon as the teacher leaves, no one ­remembers this anymore. We don’t really like to play by the books. This is something I really needed to get used to. As a team leader, I ­actually had to lead a team. And when I did nothing, I was the one to blame.

Also, we do get taught by the books. All the guidelines and paths to follow for the project are written down. Not, here’s the assignment, go ahead and do something with it. Ohw, and also make sure to write some academic stuff that substantiates every step you take.

In my opinion, building project groups and keeping your formal role is one of the best ways to prepare for the real world. It’s just the way things go, student or “grown up”.

Hello from the other side

Just five months. In five months where I got the pleasure to meet so many great people.

I got the chance to make friends with you. You crazy drinking, sauna people. Shy, but with such big hearts! I don’t want to leave anymore! I am going to miss you all soooo much!  

It was 25 degrees but I felt like I was dying! This time not because of the cold, but because I had to go back home again.

Youri Goudkuil, exchange student

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