"I was surprised to learn how many activities students have on offer here," says Ezgi Tanriverdi, a Turkish student in the Arctic Art and Design master's programme.

A scholarship made it possible to study at the University of Lapland


In autumn 2022 Ezgi Tanriverdi from Turkey and Valeriia Makeionok from Ukraine started master's studies at the University of Lapland. The university awarded them scholarships covering tuition fees, among other things.

Text and photos: Maria Paldanius

Finland was not the first country on Valeriia Makeionok's list, because she knew that tuition fees imposed on non-EU nationals are high in EU countries, and Ukraine is still applying for membership in the union. However, she found the Northern Tourism master's programme at our university appealing.

"I delved into the matter and eventually found out that the University of Lapland awards international students scholarships that cover tuition fees either partly or fully," the 22-year-old student recounts.

She then decided to apply for both: a study place and a scholarship. During the application process, Makeionok was surprised by how easy it was to fill out the forms. All the necessary information was readily available on the university’s web pages and the process had been made remarkably easy. In spring 2022, she was shocked by the delightful news that finally arrived:

"I received an email stating that I had been granted a study place and two scholarships: the Finland Scholarship and the International Talent ULapland Scholarship. They would cover not only the tuition fees for two years, but also accommodation and work practice in Finland. It was a bit of a shock," Makeionok says and laughs.

Valeriia Makeionok istuu pöydän ääressä Lapin korkeakoulukirjastossa, edessään kirjoja ja tietokone.
"I've really enjoyed studying at the University of Lapland and living in Rovaniemi. The courses are interesting, nature just wonderful, and people lovely. If I could make a wish, I'd go for a bit more sunlight," quips Valeriia Makeionok, a Ukrainian student in the Northern Tourism master's programme.

Meanwhile, the same joyful news arrived in Izmir, the third largest city of Turkey on the shore of the Aegean Sea. Ezgi Tanriverdi, previously graduated as a bachelor of arts, had applied to the Arctic Art and Design master's programme at the University of Lapland and, likewise, filled out the application documents regarding a potential scholarship.

"First, I learnt about an interesting programme, and only after entering the application process did I find out that the University of Lapland also awards scholarships. It took me six months to write the application before I had the courage to submit it," says Tanriverdi, who started studying in the Faculty of Art and Design at the University of Lapland in August 2022.

Tanriverdi's scholarship also covers tuition and accommodation for two years, that is, the entire duration of her studies. The 25-year-old art student believes that she can fully adjust to Finnish culture during that time. So far, the greatest surprises have been the daily university life, the ways to spend one's free time, and the weather conditions.

"My first impression was that this place sure is really quiet and green – and the people are friendly. Luckily, I arrived here at the end of summer so that I had time to adapt to the winter, frost and snow. The summer, however, also got me by surprise with its hot days. It was something unexpected. I was only prepared for freezing," she chuckles.

She also did not anticipate that students have so many activities on offer – or the fact that they go in for sports and spend time in nature in their spare time. That was something new to Tanriverdi. On the other hand, the campus felt dead compared to those in her home country. Where were all the cafés and places to hang around?

"In Turkey, campuses have plenty of different hangouts. I was sad to notice that nothing of the kind exists here. Many things have been different here – but mostly in a good way."

Ezgi Tanriverdi istuu tuolilla ja nojaa käsiin, taustallaan näyttelytila Lapin yliopiston taiteiden tiedekunnassa.
"I will now also be more active in trying out new things and meeting people. I feel that I have already adapted to this place quite well," says Ezgi Tanriverdi.

In late summer 2022, Ukrainian Valeeria Makeionok also set foot in Lapland for the first time. She had in her pocket a bachelor’s degree in tourism research awarded by the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. Situated in western Ukraine, Lviv is the cultural and political centre of the country.

"Lapland was something totally new to me. I had never been this far north. Yet there was no fear involved: I love travelling and want to experience new things. To be honest, I didn't have any special expectations, but if something has taken me by surprise, it is the active student life," she notes.

Makeionok feels that in four months she has managed to seamlessly enter into the lively student community of the University of Lapland. Events, parties, and other activities have kept her busy, leaving no room for feeling bored, lonely, or homesick. Communality is like a glue that helps one adapt.

"I was surprised by how cold and dark it can get here in winter. But you don't even notice it with such lovely people around you. Another positive thing about the university is that you can plan your studies individually, which leaves time for life, activities, and friends in your free time," she adds.

Makeionok presumes that having once lived in Lapland, she may no longer be recognised by her family and friends – and perhaps there really is a ring of truth to it. The composure and patience in her disposition have evolved here. The student of tourism believes it is the result of the rhythm of life in Lapland.

"I've enjoyed my stay here and I’m not planning to leave after graduation – but we shall see. That said, I could use a bit more sunlight here in the wintertime," she chuckles.

Ezgi Tanriverdi, for her part, asserts that she wants to stay in Finland after graduation. Her place may well be in Lapland – or elsewhere in Finland. Her plans are not set yet, but there is no hurry. Finishing her studies in autumn 2024, she still has time to think about these issues.

"When studying, I want to do work practice around Finland to check out the lay of the land. It may help me make decisions after graduation. But employment options eventually point the place where I’ll end up in. In any case, I intend to stay in Finland and create a career here," she sums up.