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Elena Skrebneva, TouCIM degree student, Russia

I first came here in Rovaniemi five years ago as a north2north exchange student. I cannot remember why I chose Rovaniemi that time, but I do remember I had no idea about what Finland was like when I applied, and I just took the chance to try it out. After my exchange I decided to apply for a master’s degree programme because I liked the education in Finland and I wanted to stay. I already had one tourism degree, so the TourCIM (previously called EMACIM) programme was a good way to continue my studies. I also liked the fact that the programme was not just management-oriented but it also included cultural studies.

"Earlier I felt that the knowledge was being “pushed” in me whereas here it’s been more practical – I also had to ask for the knowledge myself."

Studying in the TourCIM programme is relaxed. I found the courses to be really useful, more useful than the ones I did in Russia, actually. One of the most striking differences between ULapland and my former university is the study material; here I’ve been able to base my study in more international cases. Earlier I also felt that the knowledge was being “pushed” in me whereas here it’s been more practical – I also had to ask for the knowledge myself. The atmosphere in classes is more relaxed too, and there are less strict rules in writing essays and giving presentations. The university building itself is nice as well, and there are computer stations and internet access everywhere plus video facilities in classrooms.

"The cold weather is something that you will remember for the rest of your life."

What makes Lapland special as a study destination is Santa Claus. Before coming here, I didn’t know that he is so important here, but there is actually Santa Claus branding in so many things! But aside from that, I appreciate the cleanness here in Lapland, and the cold weather is something that you will remember for the rest of your life. I also like how the society is organized here, it’s so well functioning.

"You should be open to an international experience and, in a way, ready to break the connections with your old life and ways of thinking."

I also like the fact that the university has established connections with other universities from faraway countries like Japan, Australia and Canada. It’s really cool that there are so different people in here. You can get a good amount of knowledge about the world; you’ll meet so many different people from so many different parts of the world. You should be open to an international experience and, in a way, ready to break the connections with your old life and ways of thinking.

"I’ve been here for five years, so I speak Finnish quite well now, but I didn’t know a single word of Finnish before coming here."

I’ve had several different jobs while studying here. I’ve worked as a tourist guide, in a hostel, delivering mail, in a restaurant, and now I’m working in a shop that sells knives. I’ve also worked at the university, transcribing interviews for my faculty. I’ve been here for five years, so I speak Finnish quite well now, but I didn’t know a single word of Finnish before coming here. I did the four Finnish language courses available at the university and also a minor subject in Finnish that the university offers. But I’ve also learned a lot of Finnish from work and from my Finnish friends here. It’s not necessarily easy getting a job if you don’t speak Finnish, so I would say that if you want to work in Finland you should be prepared to study hard in order to learn the language, because it takes a lot of work.

My life has changed radically now that I’m in Finland. I live in a different country than where I was born; I’ve met a person here with whom I want to spend the rest of my life, so now I’m learning a new culture and a new language too; and I’ve started competing in cross-country skiing too. Studying here has made a difference in my life, for sure!