Student life in Turku – Adapting

Life in another country is nothing short of terrifying. My first few days here were emotional due to being the first to move into our accommodation. Being first had left my friend and I feeling lonely and unsafe, however I am grateful that I had a friend from my home university to keep me company as doing it alone would have made me feel very vulnerable. Fears ran through my head, what if I can’t cope on my own without my parents? What is something bad happens? Who is going to make my dentist appointments now? Haha, Joking I can do them on my own…. Sometimes.

When more people started to move in, Retrodorm had begun to feel more like home. I have a friendly outgoing personality so making new friends was not a problem, although as more time passed I see them more as a family than friends which makes life in the flat very welcoming at all times. We all share a common room and a very small kitchen. It’s very intimate but extremely annoying sometimes, especially when four people want to cook at the same time. Our flat contains fourteen people, so this actually happens a lot.

I am the most independent I have ever been as I am now doing my own grocery shopping, laundry, travel arrangements, rent payments and organization of placement. All of which I had help with at home from friends, family or my home university. This gives me confidence that I will continue to adapt well and improve personally and professionally.

Concluding my blog on adapting, I would like to leave you with this….

In my first few days of coming here I never knew how much I would change as a person, I never knew how this experience would make me a better person. It has! By gaining this independence, I’ve become myself, my true self! I know this sounds cliché, but it’s true. When you get away from everything at home, your responsibilities, your problems, even your boyfriends!!! You see yourself in a different way, a good way and it puts everything into perspective! I promise to anyone ever thinking about Erasmus, it’s an experience not to be missed! It’s hard but it will be worth it I assure you.

Rebecca Garfield




Student life in turku – Studying

Studying in Finland is unlike studying in my home university. The learning is much more independent, there is a lack of guidance and the questions asked are vague in comparison. My home university has me provided with presentations, lectures, and guidelines in which to follow. It is left to us as students to interpret the question ourselves. We are expected to gather information ourselves and the tutors want to hear our views. In my home university, we are taught to put our opinions aside and work on facts and relevant reading. In Finland the situation differs- they want to find out what our thoughts are on certain topics, they prefer to know what is going through our heads rather than what an author has written in a book. I like this idea as it allows me to connect and really relate to a topic. I can explain in my essays what the information means to me and if I agree or disagree. I think that this way of working really allows you to enjoy what your studying as you have a chance to ut you own heart in it.

On the other hand, our course is laidback in terms of deadlines. For example, in our first tutor meeting, we discussed our Special Education module and got to decide our own deadlines and choose one that suited us all best. Back home deadlines are set for us and there are penalties if they are missed!

I personally like the idea of being able to discuss and choose a deadline that suited us best, however I prefer my home university’s way of studying when it comes to lectures. I like to be shown the information I need and be given the opportunity to have it explained to me, it ensures me I am on the right track and that I understand correctly.


Rebecca Garfield

Student life in turku


Mina Olen… Rebecca

When I first arrived in Finland I had very little Finnish. I come from Northern Ireland and my only language is English. I never had much success at learning languages in my past. However, all of my flatmates speak English as well as most Finnish people. This is helpful when asking for direction or even how much you owe the cashier at K-Mart,  however having little Finnish makes for great difficulty when trying to communicate with those without English, especially younger children. Communicating with younger children is something I want to achieve due to being placed in a Finnish speaking, Swedish Immersion School for placement. The older classes can speak fantastic English for their age, however younger classes cannot and I want to be able to communicate with everyone as well as show the same respect back to the older children. If they make the effort to speak English to me, I want to return that favour with Finnish. I am now a couple of weeks into placement and my Finnish has developed due to listening and learning words within classes. I have now begun my Finnish module which has also aided my ability to communicate, however my pronunciation needs a lot of work.

Finnish is one of the hardest languages to learn. This if fact and experience talking. My accent is so strong and I do not possess the ability to roll my tongue to pronounce “R” sounds especially. This makes my Finnish module extremely embarrassing for me, although knowing that everyone in the class is feeling the same, puts me at ease. Our class is laidback and I love that it is. This makes me more calm and enjoy learning the language in my own time. I know it will be difficult and I will not perfect the ability to speak it so soon, however I am motivated and know that learning it will make my stay here more comfortable.

Kiitos, for reading!