Guillaume Delvaux, TourCIM degree student, Belgium

My family was very surprised and my friends really happy for me when they heard that I was going to do my master’s abroad. Doing an Erasmus exchange is becoming more and more common, but a full degree in another country… that’s something different. It’s valuable, and in a longer time you really get the feeling of the place.

"It's the people that make the university alive."

I've really liked the diversity of my study programme. It isn’t only about tourism all the time, we’ve also had cultural studies and art – which I was a bit afraid of at first – to help us understand all sides of tourism. In addition, the infrastructure here is insanely good! For example, the library services. You need a book and it’s in Kemi? The library staff will arrange for it to get here, sometimes even the next day. And technologically speaking, everything is pretty impressive. As soon as you enter the university you have computers everywhere, and everything is so connected. But even with all the technology you don’t lose the contact with people, since it’s a reasonably sized university. It’s the people that make the university alive!

"I'm now more concerned about things that I wasn't concerned about before."

The environment and nature here is different than in the rest of Europe. It’s a good mix of nature and civilization. It’s not like you’re in the middle of the woods and there’s nothing else to do than chopping wood and going to sauna – there’s real life here, a real city. It’s so different than Central Europe or even the rest of the Scandinavia; the atmosphere is so different. Here it’s just... Finland. You can’t compare it to anything else.

I’m definitely not the same person I was before coming here. I feel like I grew up, and I worked with some amazing teachers who really opened my eyes to different topics, not only relating to tourism but life as well. I’m now more concerned about things that I wasn’t concerned about before. The experience here has made me care more about nature but also about people, and I’ve learned how important it is to socialize. My favorite memory would be the people that I’ve met, the people that came here from so many different countries. It’s nice how you share the same experiences with them. It doesn’t matter where you’ve lived previously but you feel that you have the same present and future with them.

"You don’t have to be scared – you’re not going to be the first one to be welcomed here."

I also met my Finnish girlfriend here, so I am planning on staying for a while. I plan on learning some more Finnish and look for an opportunity to gain some work experience in Finland. The fact that Rovaniemi is such an active tourist destination makes it ideal for a tourism student who wants to find a job and gain work experience.

Don’t be scared to come here, just go for it, really! Even if you’re not sure about your future plans, you can always send a quick email and the staff will reply and help you. You don’t have to be scared – you’re not going to be the first one to be welcomed here. The staff knows how things work, and they are well prepared for you. You just have to jump and take the initiative.