My name is Lauren Stevens and I’m from Britain. I’m currently a jobseeker searching for paid employment in the fields of international development, peacekeeping, or environmental sustainability.
In 2011, during the first year of my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Chester in Britain, I met some people who became a really important part of my life. They were Finnish students who came to study in Britain through the EU’s Erasmus student exchange programme and they are now my best friends. They taught me Finnish words and invited me to visit Finland. I started dating my Finnish partner, and we finally got married in July!
In 2015, I graduated from the University of Chester with a Bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies with Spanish. My wife then suggested that I apply to study a Master’s degree in Finland, and I was accepted into Tampere University in Finland! In June this year, I graduated from Tampere University with a Master’s degree in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research.
Alongside my degree, I completed seventeen Finnish language courses and one Swedish course, work as an intern on the Åland Islands, was active in and volunteered for twelve different organisations, attended ten additional courses and conferences in seven different countries, and worked part-time at three different businesses. My degree took longer than expected, but I really hope that making the most of my student experience and gaining extra skills will help me to get my career started despite the increasingly challenging job market. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and I feel like a different person compared to who I was when I started my Master’s degree four years ago.
Life after graduation is challenging. However, I hope that the network that I’ve developed through my volunteering will eventually lead to a job opportunity.
I fell in love with Finland because of its small population, education system, the welfare system, low levels of corruption, flexible and less working hours, better pay, low levels of crime, significant contribution to peacekeeping, healthier food, respect for the environment, recycling facilities, and cycling infrastructure. I especially like Tampere because it has nature, an interesting history, more time for and cheaper leisure activities, and vegetarian and vegan food options.
Lake Näsijärvi Tampere
Me swimming in lake just over two weeks after I moved here from Britain in August 2015. Finnish nature is breathtaking during both the summer and the winter. Finland is known as ‘the land of a thousand lakes’ – 187,888 lakes to be specific!
As an EU citizen, I didn’t have to pay university tuition fees, and even my meals and healthcare were subsidised. I think that studying here was a great opportunity because I met people of different nationalities that I had never encountered before, which changed many of the ideas and prejudices that I had previously had about them. Through volunteering as a School Visitor for Erasmus in Schools, I had the opportunity to visit Finnish primary, secondary, and upper secondary schools. I observed that the schools offer free meals for every student. There are more breaks and less homework. Yet, Finland is one of the most successful countries in the world in terms of education.
Before I moved to Finland, I was hoping to participate in some Finnish language courses, but I thought that I would have to pay for evening classes. However, I discovered that international students can participate in the Finnish language courses offered by Tampere University and include the credits that we get from them into our studies. I would really recommend these courses for international students in Tampere who would like to stay and find work in Finland after graduation.