As international students, we want to share our experiences about how it feels to study in a country that is recognized world-wide for its education system. Read more about our impressions about the Finnish education and university life at Haaga-Helia and Creative Agency Krea!
Finland is a country that integrates education with its overall culture. For Finnish people, education is extremely important and its role is widely appreciated in society.
Funny intercultural surprises: eating and knitting in class to boost creativity
Finnish education is more than just great facilities and competent teachers. Courses and lectures are held in a relaxed atmosphere and students are allowed to act freely and be creative. It is not surprising to see students eating and drinking – or even knitting socks – while ideating with their teammates.
Drinking coffee during lectures is also common, and so are stretching your muscles and other activities geared to increasing your energy levels and boosting creativity. Dana, a second-year international degree student states: “During the first year I studied here, I was surprised to see one of my colleagues taking out her yogurt and starting to eat in class. I was equally surprised when the teacher continued as if nothing strange had happened. In my country, this would be considered impolite and the teacher would definitely have said something.”
Finland is a country that encourages studying at all ages. Hence, it is not entirely uncommon to see small babies accompanying their student parents in classes or at other school facilities. If there are no allergies in class, sometimes students may also bring along their dogs!
Creative Agency Krea emphasizes coaching-based autonomous learning
Finnish education system is heavily based on self-directed learning. Teachers act like coaches and supportive senior colleagues. They provide students with essential information and guide them in their learning process. It is students’ responsibility to plan and monitor their own learning process. Students own agency and responsibility are important in the Finnish education system as a whole and at Creative Agency Krea in particular.
As there is a very low hierarchy between students and teachers, students address teachers by their names and can negotiate their role in course projects. Lisa, an exchange student from Russia, says: “Teachers here are very friendly and kind, they are always ready to help. For example, if a student needs special equipment for a project, the teacher can always find it and provide it. I don’t feel stressed or nervous during the lessons, because the teacher creates a calm atmosphere where you feel always welcome.”
Non-traditional Finnish learning design
Learning sessions include short lectures, group discussions, teamwork, and individual work. During discussions, you are free to express your opinions in a relaxed way. Studying is based on an entrepreneurial approach: there is a lot of hands-on learning through working for real companies.
Thi Nghiem, an International Business degree student, shares her experience: “The opportunity to participate in practical projects is what I value the most in my studies at Haaga-Helia. In addition to theoretical lectures, we get to apply our knowledge according to the needs of a client company. This semester, I am taking a course where we organize an international event called Krea Spring School. As teams, we create the marketing plan, produce promotional materials, and design activities for the event.”
In partnership with companies, students have the opportunity to work on real company projects, gain work experience and build their professional networks. Finnish leaning design is heavily based on flexibility, out-of-classroom activities and hands-on projects. Students have excellent facilities. The Finnish education system also places emphasis on student welfare by providing financial support, healthcare services, and individualized options for everyone.
How does the Mooncats team at Creative Agency Krea feel about their education?
So, what makes Finland so appealing to foreign students like ourselves? Finnish education system is very student-friendly and the programs are flexible. The student-centred approach to individual development and welfare is highly appreciated.
Compared to our education systems at home, the class atmosphere here is more relaxed, the teacher-student relationships are less formal, and the working methods are more practical. Overall, this is what constitutes the specific charm of Finnish education.