Ajda fell to the lure of Lapland during her exchange, felt compelled to return for a few internships and now that she is back to do her master studies in tourism research, she has the living tourism lab to explore. Ajda is very much at home here, combining sauna evenings, studying and work.
Tell us something about yourself.
Zdravo! My name is Ajda Hribar. I am from a small city in southeastern part of Slovenia. This summer I graduated from a Bachelor Program in Tourism at University of Maribor. Right after that, I returned to my beloved Lapland to do master studies.
I would describe myself as an honest, determined and open-minded person. I find my enjoyment in sauna evenings, meditation and good readings. I also like to spend my free time outside in the nature, either by myself or with some friends.
Why did you choose to study in the University of Lapland?
I was here as an exchange student back in 2016. I admit, Rovaniemi was not my first option for an exchange, but I am grateful that the combination of different circumstances brought me here. During the exchange, I got familiar with the working system, made a few good friends and got some good business connections.
Once I returned home, I got the feeling that I do not belong there anymore. So I got back here to do my internships. Once I started planning my future, I realized that I desire more knowledge. I was checking available MA programs in Slovenia, but I could not find any which would cover all the fields I am interested in. Then I realized I could do my masters abroad, and while searching for one, TourCIM was the first one that popped out. I was satisfied with the degree structure and the fact that I was here before, gave me the comfort I needed in order to be able to spend two years abroad. Therefore, I applied, got in and here I am.
Has your time in Rovaniemi changed you?
Indeed. When I first arrived here, I was quite introverted, so I fit quite well in this Finnish environment. When I was on an exchange here, I slowly started to open up and later the working environment during my internship forced me to open up, to become more talkative and social.
Living up here, I have learned a lot about myself and I have grown as a person. I have also learned how to notice and appreciate small things and changes in the nature.
What is different in the studying process compared to your previous university?
Here the whole University is “under the one roof”. That comes handy when it comes to socializing with the other students, as the common rooms are available to everybody.
The biggest difference in the studying process is the flexible timetable. Here you do not get the fixed schedule, but you create it for yourself. You can choose between different varieties of courses, and even take some from the other programs. You choose what you want to study and when do you want to study. The way of studying is also different, as we have almost no exams. There are other ways to evaluate student’s knowledge, such as learning journal, essays, presentations and even home exams.
How would you define your MA-programme?
As already the name of the program tells, we have a different variety of the courses. Not only tourism, not only the management or culture, but various combination off all of those. We also have a wide selection of elective studies, which give us a wide specter of tourism-related knowledge.
Tourism is a fast growing sector. What has been yesterday’s problem, might already be tomorrow’s past. Professors are aware of that and they are following the trends and changes, picking up examples from present, which means that our gained knowledge is up to date.
How is your MA programme preparing you for future work life?
TourCIM program is set in the right environment, as Rovaniemi is one of the most popular travel destinations in Finland. So you can learn not just from the studies, but you can experience tourism in practice - and also use the opportunity to work in the field.
In the future, I see myself either working in tourism management sector or working as tourism researcher. Wide selection of elective studies are giving me an option to cover both fields and make the decision after graduation.
Besides the general knowledge, I am sure that I will gain some other skills, such as ability to handle more things at the same time. Working, studying and being an ambassador requires good organization skills.
Does Lapland feel like home?
From the very first day, I felt welcome and accepted. Somehow, it feels like I belong here. Every day I am learning, growing as a person and I can claim that I am really enjoying my life!
So yes, Lapland feels like home, and it will definitely stay like that until the end of my studies. After that, let’s see where the path will take me. Maybe back to my home country - maybe somewhere else. I will leave that up to the future.
Is there any advice you would share with future students?
Do not fear the unknown, push yourself out of the comfort zone and find yourself in Lapland!
If you have any questions, related with TourCIM studies, you can reach me at ahribar(at)ulapland.fi.