As soon as the exams for the autumn semester at the UAS Grisons were over, it was time to pack my suitcase for my exchange semester. Destination Finland, more precisely Jyväskylä, is the seventh-largest city somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Finland. This is exactly where my exchange adventure begins.
I sat excited about the new surroundings, people, and language on the plane to Helsinki and looked forward to my exchange semester. Once I arrived in Helsinki, I took the train to Jyväskylä, where I was picked up by my tutor. Most exchange students live in one of the many KOAS shared flats provided by the Central Finland Student Housing Foundation. Since the start of the semester was still a few days away, I had the opportunity to get to know Jyväskylä. Lakes, forests, hills and, at the moment, metres of snow characterise the landscape of the region. Jyväskylä is not too big, and you quickly find your way around, even if the Finnish language is challenging.
The host university, JAMK University of Applied Sciences, offers a variety of modules in English, which makes it perfect for exchange students. Even though the enrolment for the courses was somewhat chaotic, as several of my courses in the learning agreement overlapped, the communication with JAMK works excellently. Now the time had come, and the semester started on online mode because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the beginning, I had to get used to the teaching method because in most modules you have to work on assignments during the semester, and they will be already graded before the end. However, the advantage is that there are very few final exams. In addition, there are modules that you work on by yourself without contact lessons. Most of my modules do not last the whole semester, which allows me to go on excursions and get to know the country.
As we already had spring break after two weeks of lessons, I decided to take part in a Student Union JAMKO trip to Finnish Lapland. This was an unforgettable experience with many typical activities. For example, we learned to ride snowmobiles or went swimming in the Arctic Ocean in Norway. Of course, the social evenings among the exchange students were not to be missed. 😉
You won't get bored in Jyväskylä either, as there are many activities offered by the Student Union or you can go on an excursion with other students. We have already gone skiing, cross-country skiing or participated in a sauna event. Since March, we have been back on campus here in Finland and can look forward to upcoming events. Speaking of the campus, you can't compare it with the one in Chur. The building is a lot bigger and more intricate and offers everything a student's heart desires. From a gym to lounges to a cafeteria where the lunch menu costs 2.70 euros JAMK and Finland in general, is also very digital. This means that timetables, menus or the library account can be viewed directly in the mobile phone app.
During this first month here in Finland, I could already experience some unforgettable moments with familiar and new friends, and now I hope that this will also be the case in the coming ones.
P.S. Do you like snow and don't mind the cold? Then Finland is exactly the right destination for your exchange semester. However, even if you are not the biggest winter fan, summer will come here too and is for sure just as beautiful.
Robin Hagen studies Tourism at UAS Grisons. In his fourth semester he studied Tourism on an exchange semester at JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Finland.