Kanyu had a good year in 2013. While she was not able to attend the Helsinki Summer School in 2012, her wish was fulfilled in 2013. Before the Summer School, Kanyu also participated in the Finnish Science Fiction convention Finncon and travelled around Europe: “First I knew about Finncon, the Finnish science fiction convention. And then Finland became like a dream place for me. But I thought I should also do an exchange programme. It’d be great to put these two things together! I was considering coming here already last year, but I found out about the Helsinki Summer School a bit too late, so I postponed it to the next year.” Kanyu is a Drama student at home, at the University of Fudan in China. In Helsinki, she wanted to do Emotions and Interculturality, which was a newcomer in the course programme.
“I chose this course because it sounded interesting – even if I haven’t done anything related to interculturality before. But I’ve always had a keen interest in the topic because Fudan is a very international university and you get to know a great deal of international students and teachers there. Also I’ve been teaching foreigners Chinese so it’s very interesting and useful to know what may happen in an intercultural environment, how people’s emotions can affect the situation. Furthermore, between Finncon and the Summer School I did a grand trip around Europe, mostly to the Nordic countries. So I was aware of the intercultural environment and I could observe some emotions during my trip, but the course has put my experiences into theory.”
When Kanyu is asked about her best experiences in the Summer School, she says that many things have been great, but the academic part has been especially enriching:“Our course contains a lot of group work; we don’t have individual tasks so everything we do is with other students. It gives you the chance to really know how things can work in an international environment. It’s really nice we spend so much time in groups. And also the social programme; the Finnish Oddities in the botanical garden was great! It’s a shame I missed the Baltic Dinner Cruise. It was fully booked very quickly.”
Kanyu found the academic part the most rewarding also because her course did actual research. There’s even a chance to publish a paper later on. Some things have taken Kanyu by surprise. On her course she was taught that Finnish culture is very individualistic and that people are raised to help themselves first, not necessarily others. However, this is not what Kanyu has found herself. “Finnish people are very friendly and although they’re not used to being active in talking or helping, once you get to know them better it turns out they’re very nice.”
Kanyu wanted to become an ambassador for the Helsinki Summer School because she thought it would be a great opportunity to promote not only the Summer School but also Finland. Before coming to Finland she took part in a Finnish day at her home university in Fudan. The University of Helsinki was there but there was no special HSS desk. Kanyu thinks that she could do the promoting for HSS at the Finnish day. Kanyu will also tell all her friends about the Helsinki Summer School. And spread the word in the Chinese social media!
“Doing a semester-long exchange is not possible for everyone, but Helsinki Summer School is different, everyone can apply to it and have a chance to study abroad. It’d be great if more people knew about this and had the opportunity to be here and enjoy the life. Kanyu’s experience here was so good that she is now planning on staying longer: “I’d love to pursue my studies in Finland. But I think I should earn some money first because I can only ask my parents for help. So I think that if I choose to study that’s my freedom but it’s also my responsibility. I’ll try to find some work in the cultural industry, maybe also in an intercultural environment. And then, I can be here again, perhaps doing a PhD.”
Text by: Larissa Vanamo
Photo by: Helena Hämäläinen