Farah took a leap of faith and applied to the Helsinki Summer School. Coming to Finland alone from Indonesia took some courage, but the effort was all worth it. Farah studies philosophy in her home university and here she is taking part in Intercultural Communication and Education.
“It’s mind-opening. The people, the course, this study and even the professors, lecturers, they’ve exceeded my expectations. I can honestly say that I’ve gained a lot from what I’ve experienced so far, and this was my main goal, to come here and experience Finnish education.”
Farah had already set her mind on Finland, so she was looking for an opportunity to study here. She clicked on a link on the website of the Embassy of Finland in Indonesia with a mention of HSS. The programme sounded like a lot of fun and a great opportunity! The length of the programme, three weeks, looked good, too: not too long, not too short. Farah found out more about the HSS programme through the website and decided to apply, even though she did not have a chance to consult anyone who had already taken part. “I thought, I’m just going to try, it’s a long shot, I might not be accepted, but at least I tried, that’s what I said to myself.”
Farah knew that many HSS courses are taken by Master’s degree or even doctoral students, but she has felt totally at ease with the more advanced HSS students. Everyone is equal; she can fit in just as easily. “My best experience is that I was really challenged by the course. I got so excited because you set another bar for yourself and then after three weeks there’s only one option, you have to be better than before you came to Finland. Another thing is that it was hard in the beginning, being in Finland, it’s very quiet here and I was wondering why there is no traffic and so on. So yes, academic challenges and cultural challenges. You need to adapt to a very different environment, and you need to adapt soon.”
Farah is so happy with her time in the Summer School that she is hoping to continue her studies in Helsinki. HSS convinced her she would be able to do a two-year Master’s programme here. A PhD degree in Finland is also on her mind. There was another factor, too, that convinced her that she was in the right place: “I did not expect that there’d be a lot of people from different countries. I thought that it was going to be mainly European countries. It’s a summer school in Finland, but there are also students from the United States, from America and other Asian countries, and they’re all here. I’ve met all these people; this must be right, I must’ve made a good decision coming here.”
Farah’s message to prospective HSS students is very clear: “Do it! At least for me this may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance because I used all my savings just to come here. But everything was worth it. There is something that you can only gain if you’re far away from home. You get more perspective, gain more knowledge. If you’re lucky enough, like me, you might have an epiphany.”
Text by: Larissa Vanamo
Photo by: Helena Hämäläinen