Diversity in a large student community

Master's degree programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research Silvie Kroeker

Silvie Kroeker, 25, is a student from the Master’s degree programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Tampere. She has previously completed a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science and Intercultural Studies at Canadian Mennoninte University in Winnipeg, Canada.

Silvie had not studied abroad previously. Because she wanted to have that international experience and felt like Finland would be a nice place to study, she applied to the University of Tampere.

“I knew hardly anything about Finland before coming here. I had no idea what to expect. I googled some things about Finland and Tampere before arriving, but I had never been there before so everything was really new”, says Silvie.

After settling in and adjusting to the university life at UTA, she enjoyed the benefits of studying at a larger university than in Canada while not feeling too overwhelmed thanks to her study programme being small.

"I liked that my study programme was relatively small, but situated at a large enough university so that there were lots of facilities and resources for the students. The teachers in my program were also really nice and approachable if anyone wanted to discuss a topic in class or ask for advice.”

Another big difference to Canada was the course scheduling and the expectations of teachers as well as the types of course assignments. Silvie also faced minor challenges with the Finnish language and the fact that she is not from Finland or the EU, but says that the university was quite helpful with these issues. Despite this, she was able to adjust quickly.

Silvie especially liked the fact that students in the Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research degree programme come from various countries: “I really enjoyed studying with both Finns and other international students. In my programme, there was a mix of nationalities, and it was really nice to have the opportunity to learn with and from people of different backgrounds. I was really happy to study with a diverse group of people.”

Silvie regards Tampere as a great student city with lots to offer in terms of student events, activities and associations. Thanks to the large student community, she felt at home, even as a non-Finnish person. When it comes to learning Finnish, she felt like taking a few courses was beneficial, even though her aim was not to master the language.

“I found Finnish a difficult language to learn, and since almost everyone in Finland speaks English, I didn’t feel like there was much incentive or purpose for me to learn Finnish. But I’m happy I took at least two courses because it helped me learn a few phrases, and also to understand the Finnish culture better.”

She would have liked to stay in Finland after her studies, but in her field the job opportunities in Finland are rather scarce. Her future plans are still open, but she wishes to find fulfilling work in her field.

"I think my Master's degree will help me professionally. In my field, it is more and more necessary to have a Master's degree, so I think both what I have learned as well as the certification will benefit me."

Text: Sanni Irjala

Photo: Jonne Renvall