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Mongiwa Siduli, Comparative Social Work degree student, Swaziland

I got to know about the Comparative Social Work programme when a lecturer in my former university attended a social work conference in South Africa and brought back material about the program as well as information on Finland. That led me to do my own research online about the university.

When you come from a developing country, European education and experiences are generally looked up to, and it seems you have the best education when you have that background. I believe Finland has professionalized social work for a long time, and I felt that I had much to gain from studying here. What was most interesting was the fact that my degree is a collaboration between universities in Russia and Finland. I got to see the curriculum and how the studies were structured in advance, and there seemed to be lots of lecturers from different countries, so it was something to look forward to - I wasn’t only going to learn about social work in Finland but also in other countries.

"Examples and experiences are quite important, and that brings so much more into the program."

I’ve enjoyed every moment studying here. I’ve met people from different international backgrounds, and when you are studying social work you need to be able to know how social work functions in other countries. Examples and experiences are quite important, and that brings so much more into the program. We’re soon going to Russia for a study trip, and that’s really exciting for me because the degree offers me the chance not only to learn in Finland but gain international experience as well.

Studying here has given me the opportunity to focus on studying social work as a core subject and not just as part of something else, like sociology. Social work is not really a known profession in my home country, and it wasn’t even a well-known subject in my previous university. That is completely different in Finland.

"This place integrates people from all walks of life, regardless of where you come from."

The diversity of students and different cultural backgrounds has been great. This place integrates people from all walks of life, regardless of where you come from. There are also many organized events for us to meet people. I’ve met very nice people here, young and old, and even people who couldn’t speak English were very interested in knowing more things about me and my culture – the joy and excitement of people wanting to know who you are and where you come from is so interesting!

"The people that I’ve met have welcomed me so well that I feel that I have a family here."

If I had to say something to people who are considering coming here to study, I would talk about Rovaniemi and the nice homely feeling that you get here. I think that here you won’t be constantly thinking about home because there is always something to look forward to. So far I’ve gained a lot. By studying here my knowledge on the field has been greatly improved, and time is passing quite fast because of all my different experiences. I haven’t really missed home yet, and I’m enjoying every day here. The people that I’ve met have welcomed me so well that I feel that I have a family here.

"The experience has made me think in a different way; for instance, it’s made me realize the importance of independence and what you can really do with your life."

Living in Finland has also exposed me to the Finnish way of life. The experience has made me think in a different way; for instance, it’s made me realize the importance of independence and what you can really do with your life. In addition to that, I’ve made really great friends, and I plan to keep them!

I really didn’t think I would have such a great experience living in Finland, but now I’m even planning to continue to postgraduate studies here. I don’t want to go anywhere else, I just want to be here in Rovaniemi and in Lapland. When you’re here you really start to think differently.