Hands-on projects and practical knowledge
Master's degree programme in Human-Technology Interaction
Chelsea Kelling, 27, from Wisconsin USA, is studying at the University of Tampere in the Master’s degree programme in Human-Technology Interaction. She has been studying at UTA for two years and has previously done a six-month exchange at the University of Tampere.
Chelsea describes the atmosphere at UTA as relaxed and supportive. She is thankful for the various resources for international students, the teachers’ and professors’ willingness to help and the small classes which make the study experience more intimate. The informality and relaxedness are things that differ from the universities in the US, she describes.
“Teachers and professors seem to be much more approachable and flexible here; generally they try to work around individual needs, such as missing class due to work. This really improves the learning experience because you can focus your energy on getting the most out of your studies instead of worrying if your professors will be understanding or flexible enough. I have found that to be a huge benefit here.”
As the absolute best thing Chlesea mentions the number of hands-on projects required in the courses of the HTI progamme. Her BA in Psychology at Missouri State University (US) was purely theoretical, so she has really enjoyed gaining practical knowledge that will also help her transition from university to working life.
“My courses here have been largely project-oriented. I feel that having this practical application of the theories and models has allowed me to gain skills that I would not have normally acquired in a more traditional classroom atmosphere. Therefore, I am graduating with a lot of project experience that companies will give a lot of importance to in the hiring process.”
Even though it might be a bit of a cliché, Chelsea says that one of the best things in studying in a university and in student exchange are the people you meet. She has found friends in Tampere who have played a huge role in her experience at UTA. She loves being a student and finds the campus and teaching facilities, especially the collaborative learning spaces, very nice and fun.
She thinks Tampere is a lovely city and suitable for student life. In the city centre, almost everything is in walking distance and even though Tampere is not exactly a cheap city, there are lots of discounts for students. She also loves the forests and the lakes, which are always near wherever you are in Tampere. Her favourite memory features just this, the beautiful nature of Finland.
“I think my favorite memory is when I was an exchange student and took a trip to Lapland with a bunch of other students. Lapland is a whole other world, and learning about the unique culture was a wonderful experience. We also drove up to the mountains in Norway and “swam” (ran in and out) in the Arctic Ocean. The absolute best part was seeing the northern lights. I’ll never forget watching the sky ripple into hues of purple, green and white, as if aliens were putting on a light show, as we stood in the middle of a frozen lake and stared in awe.”
Chelsea considers Finnish to be a difficult but not an impossible language to learn. She points out that Finns speak English quite well, so learning the language is not a requirement. She admires the Finns’ calm demeanor and their special connection to nature, although they can be quite shy and reserved and thus not always easy to get to know.
She has not had many negative experiences as an international student in Tampere and at UTA. Instead, she considers the university to be a very encouraging place and the staff very helpful. However, bureaucratic practices outside the university, such as opening a bank account, can be quite difficult.
Her future plans include working as a researcher and starting a PhD. Overall, she has enjoyed her time in Finland and has made great friends and had cool experiences.
How about staying in Finland?
“Let’s see! Ask me again after a couple more dark winters and see if I am still surviving”, she laughs.
Text: Anna Ojalahti
Photo: Jonne Renvall