Close collaboration with teaching staff
Master's degree programme in Global and Transnational Sociology
Heba Sigurðardóttir is a 40-year-old student from Iceland. She recently completed her Master’s degree in Global and Transnational Sociology and earned her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Tampere as well. Heba has lived in Tampere with her family for several years already and has Finnish citizenship, so she considers Tampere to be her home.
Comparing her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, she has found that international degree programmes have become much more professional and ambitious in Tampere during the last ten years.
“The changes are noticeable. More programmes have become available and the courses are more organised. Also, the standards are higher and more work is demanded from the students.”
She was also pleasantly surprised by how some programmes offer a closer collaboration with the teaching staff, for example in the form of small seminars, workshops or a chance to participate in conferences.
“I think it offers students a great opportunity to learn hands-on and it also pushes them to use what they learn and reflect upon it in a sort of pragmatic way as well. “
She describes the studies at UTA as flexible and student-friendly and praises the facilities, services and social activities for their diversity. The best part of her studies, however, were the fellow students. Her favourite memories are about hanging out with them in the university restaurants, cafés or pubs.
“They are a great bunch of people; helpful, interesting, motivating and they have a wonderful sense of humor. I am so glad I got to know them. The teachers in the programme were also quite nice. They were professionals but at the same time approachable, supportive and willing to work with us individually. I also had a wonderful thesis supervisor who was not fazed by my neurotic emails and me postponing the deadlines all the time!” Heba says.
Heba describes being treated well as an international student at UTA and in the city. She thinks that a lot of thought has been put into assisting students and providing them with varied services at the University, such as tutoring, the orientation course and introducing the University grounds. She finds Tampere to be a very student-friendly city because of the various student discounts at pubs, restaurants, transportation, events and museums.
She considers Tampere to be her home city and especially likes its growing diversity. Its nature, peacefulness and beauty both in winter and summer are also important for her. Perhaps, because she has lived in Finland for several years already, she does not find Finnish people to fit fixed stereotypes. People in Finland are like people everywhere: once you get to know them, you notice that there are different personalities. She has also learned the Finnish language.
“My Finnish is not perfect yet but it is improving all the time. Nodding and sagely murmuring 'niin' gets you far in most conversations. If you are learning Finnish, this is a must-know skill. However, my children habitually laugh at my Finnish.”
Heba sees that the degree from UTA gives her a better chance to find a goob job, but studying is also about much more.
“Completing a degree takes a lot of work, self-discipline and the ability to organize yourself and these are all skills that are valuable in the job market. However, studying can also be personal development, training in argumentation, presentation and even in teamwork so that there are many ways in which you can benefit from a university degree.”
Heba has also got a piece of advice for new international students.
"Remember this when you are coming to a new country as a student: throw yourself into the social scene and take advantage of what the university has to offer, both in terms of studying and social life. Get to know people and in the process you will also get to know yourself better. That, too, is learning", she points out.
Text: Anna Ojalahti
Photo: Jonne Renvall