Lauren Stevens

MDP In Peace, Mediation and Conflict ResearchLauren

My name is Lauren Stevens and I’m a 23-year-old British international degree student at the University of Tampere. I've been interested in other cultures and social justice since I studied foreign languages and joined an Amnesty International group at school and college. This led to my decision to study a Bachelor's degree in International Development with Spanish in Britain. During the third year of my degree I did a year abroad placement working as an English Language Assistant for the British Council in Melilla, a Spanish enclave surrounded by Morocco. I am now studying the Master’s Degree Programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research. After spending three years studying in the UK and one year living in Spain, when I witnessed the two respective extremes of hard work and relaxation, naturally I compare them to my current experience in Finland. I feel that UTA provides the right balance between these.                                                                                               

I’ve lived in Finland for over one year now. I visited Finland several times before I moved here because my partner is Finnish, so I didn’t experience that much culture shock when I arrived. Of all the places I have visited in Finland, Tampere is certainly my favourite because it’s student-orientated, has an interesting heritage, offers diversity, and there’s many things to do. I grew up in a relatively big city, so I like living somewhere that is neither too remote nor too busy, and Tampere is ideal for me in this respect. Before I moved to Finland I was hoping to participate in a Finnish language course, but I thought I would have to pay for evening classes. However, I discovered that international students are able to participate in the Finnish language courses offered by UTA for no extra cost and incorporate the credits we gain from them into our studies. When I arrived I was surprised at the internationality evident at UTA, and the support and facilities provided for international students. I think studying here is a fantastic opportunity because I am meeting people of nationalities that I have never encountered before and learning about their countries. This has changed many of the ideas and prejudices that I previously had about those nationalities and countries.