Hello everyone! My name is Madina and I’m from Kazakhstan. Currently I’m studying a chemical engineering English bachelor’s program here at Aalto. This is my second year in Finland. Since I’m an international student I have some thoughts that I can share in this blog post about my first experience studying abroad.
To begin with, I would like to tell a bit more about how I found Aalto University and why I chose this educational institution among others. Apparently, Finland is not a popular destination to study for a bachelor’s degree in my motherland, but still it was included in the list of countries where we can apply even if we are not EU citizens. After some research, I found information that Aalto University is opening new English programs including chemical engineering, and providing scholarships for non-EU citizens that can cover the tuition fee. Since Finland is famous for its high-quality education and thriving research work around the world I decided to prepare all needed documents and apply.
Finnish universities announce the accepted students quite late compared to other countries and this fact kept me a bit in pressure. But it was worth it since I received a letter of acceptance and approval of my request to the 100% tuition fee scholarship.
Once I was fully sure about my decision I started to read more about this particular country.
Honestly, I’ve heard a lot of stereotypes that Finns are not communicative and do not prefer to talk a lot with strangers. Therefore, I thought it will be challenging for me as an international student to smoothly become a part of the student community here in Otaniemi and find new friends. Moreover, I was worried that the fact that I do not speak Finnish language could be another barrier between the local students and me.
However, I was surprised that everyone can speak English fluently here on campus. Thus, my fear of the language barrier started to disappear. I found lots of new friends from all over the world including Finland itself, and understood that if you are eager to meet new people, open to new acquaintances, the Aalto community is highly welcoming and kind. I became a member of the Process Engineering guild and started attending some events that I thought would be suitable for me. My adaptation period was not short because it was my first experience when I started living alone in a different country and the climate was totally different. However, it was my big step towards my future dreams and career growth.
Now, when I’m living here almost 2 years I can undoubtedly state that I’m happy about my choice. Maybe sometimes it takes time to fully get used to a new community and new culture when you’ve spent your whole life in one country. But it’s more about the final result you have reached. I believe I’m on the right track.