Former international students of the University William Eccleshall from the UK and Giancarlo Méndez Agreda from Peru graduated in 2018 from the Master’s Degree Programme in Biomedical Sciences and the specialisation track Drug Discovery and Development. After the graduation, they have followed quite different paths, both finding their own interests.

Eccleshall originally came to Finland as an exchange student of the University of Eastern Finland. After completing his Bachelor’s degree studies in the United Kingdom, he decided he wanted to continue his studies abroad. Finland had had an impact on him, and when he found an interesting degree offered at the University of Turku in 2016, he soon found himself carrying out Master’s degree studies in Turku.

Méndez Agreda, on the other hand, heard about the University at an international fair in his home city Lima. He applied for the University of Turku as well as the University College London, and was accepted to both. In the end, he chose the University of Turku because the Programme included writing a thesis, and he felt like it provided more academic credibility.

Easiness of Living and Studying

Both of them are still living in Turku. Eccleshall is writing his doctoral thesis and doing an internship as a writer for Biocenter Finland alongside his PhD, while Méndez Agreda works as a formulation scientist in DelSiTech, which is a company that develops new nanotech solutions in drug delivery.

In addition to their work, there are other reasons for them to have stayed in Finland. Eccleshall appreciates the general pace of life in Finland. He feels that it was also present during the studies: students seemed to be less busy than in the UK, possibly because their time was spent more wisely.

– There was less learning things by heart just for the sake of exams. And I also liked the lack of hierarchy in the university world: students call their teachers by their first names, and the teachers are easy to approach.

Méndez Agreda especially likes the easiness of living and studying. He admires the straightforward way the Finnish organisations and health care system operate. He had a personal experience with this when he fell down and broke his collarbone. The University is also a good example of a well-functioning Finnish system.

– Studying is made as easy as possible. All the information can be found online, there’s an app for everything, and you can study in the library anytime you want. And if your computer runs out of battery, you can just borrow one from the library, he enthuses.

Both of them also liked the teaching style in the Programme. The lectures were engaging and included a good number of examples that tied the subjects to the real world and working life. With the help of elective studies and minor subjects, the studies can be shaped to correspond with the student’s own interests and aspirations.

– I really like the way Finnish people have space to do their own thing. You don’t have to make the same choices as everyone else, and your choices are still respected, Eccleshall says.

Integrating into the Finnish Culture

Eccleshall and Méndez Agreda started studying in the University of Turku in 2016.

Integrating into the Finnish Culture

Some aspects of living in Finland took some time to get used to, especially for Méndez Agreda, who comes from a fairly different climate and culture. For example, the changes in weather and the seemingly reserved nature of Finns were surprising at first. However, after the initial shock, the international students felt that they integrated in the Finnish society quite easily.

Curiously, the integration has had some side effects. Eccleshall has noticed that his previously low coffee consumption has started to increase while his tea consumption is decreasing. Méndez Agreda, on the other hand, has learned to love the Finnish sauna culture.

– After a long and stressful week at work, there is nothing like going to the sauna and forgetting all your worries.

Both Eccleshall and Méndez Agreda are planning to stay in Finland at least for now. Méndez Agreda has his job and is playing with the idea of applying for doctoral studies in the future. Eccleshall is working on completing his doctoral thesis and planning to find a job after that.

For the people considering to apply for one of the Master’s degree programmes of the University of Turku or Finland in general, Eccleshall would like to say that it is hard work, but there is a lot of support available. The teachers are easy to approach and glad to help. He also feels that learning Finnish helped him integrate in society. Méndez Agreda also encourages people to come study at the University of Turku.

– The University of Turku gives you the tools that you need to grow to become a competent researcher and professional. Sometimes it takes time to reach your goals, but it is just a matter of looking for opportunities and being ready when the right one comes, Méndez Agreda summarises his experiences.

The next application period for the International Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Programmes taught in English is on 8–22 January 2020. The studies start at the end of August 2020.