Erson´s interest towards extra-curricular activities and constant self-development have also led him to the position of a Ulapland Ambassador. This sun loving Mediterranean and a first year master student is ready to fall in love with winter and manage his time and personal study plan efficiently.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Erson and I am from Shkoder, which is a beautiful city in the North-West of Albania. I graduated in Psychology one year ago. Since then I have experienced some rapid changes in my life, and suddenly here I am, few kilometres from the Arctic Circle.
Throughout my previous studies, I have engaged myself with different extra-curricular activities which helped me to broaden my practical experience. For example, I have been working with an NGO dealing with the issues of domestic and gender-based violence in Northern Albania. Moreover, I have attended several national and international project and trainings, which have given me the opportunity to explore different cultures, meet new friends and gain valuable experience. As a Mediterranean, I really love the sun, the sea, good food and summer time. Well, who doesn’t? Now, I am preparing to fall in love with winter here in Lapland.
What made you choose University of Lapland?
There are several reasons for that. After graduating from my BA studies, I was convinced that I wanted to study abroad. It has been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid. Therefore I started the exciting journey of turning my dream into reality.
To mention some of the factors that played a role in my decision: unique study destination, flexible and supportive educational system, MA in Media Education (one of two universities in Finland which offers this master’s degree) and affordable tuition fee for non-EU students compared to other universities in Finland.
How has your time in Rovaniemi changed you?
Even though I arrived to Rovaniemi just two months ago, there have been noticeable changes in me. In the beginning, it was a real out of the ‘comfort zone’ situation. New place, new friends and totally different culture, but I really enjoyed that. Regarding the challenges, I understood the importance of doing things on my own, being busy and managing time.
On the other hand, it has been amazing to explore nature here in Lapland, hang out with students from different backgrounds and cultures and enjoy some nice parties on the weekends. The process of acculturation has been very smooth because everyone in the university is willing to help you and most of the people in Finland speak good English.
How would you describe your lifestyle here?
It is different from what I am used to, however every day I feel more comfortable and satisfied. Culture shock is part of the process when you moving to another country, so in my experience I would recommend taking it easy and try to immerse yourself in the culture of the country as much as possible. For instance, I started attending Finnish language classes and I must admit that learning this language it is not the easiest thing in the world. However, now I know how to greet Finns in their native language.
I usually wake up at 8:30, have breakfast, brush my teeth, grab a coffee and be in class at 9:00 am. I live very close to the university, which makes my life easier, and has made the university feel like my second home.
Furthermore, university facilities are cosy and modern, including two main restaurant, one bar, library, tech-equipped classrooms, studying rooms and many relaxation corners.
During my free time, I love to play football. I joined the FC Santa Claus and now I am training twice a week and plus attending games on the weekends. This is a great way to keep myself in shape and to meet Finnish guys who are playing in the team. If there is any time left, I prefer to go and play pool with my friends on Fridays. Sauna is part of my weekend schedule as well. It is very relaxing and fun.
What is different in the studying process compared to your country?
Hopefully I do not exaggerate if I say huge. It’s a different approach. From teachers’ attitude to the flexible timetable, everything is designed to make you feel relaxed and motivated here. Most of the courses are practically-oriented, which makes learning process more fruitful. Here, we write essays, make presentations or do group work instead of the old-fashioned learning process of memorizing the content of the course and then writing an exam.
In the beginning of the semester, we prepare the Personal Study Plan (PSP), which is a tool that helps us to set up and organize our study schedule according to our preferences and availability. To sum up, you can study on you own preferred pace.
I can access all the study facilities here for free: library, computer rooms, music instruments etc. That is something I missed in my home country. Additionally, you can broaden your knowledge from different disciplines that are taught at the University of Lapland. You can attend for example art, language, psychology, tourism or education courses according to your preferences.
How would you define your MA programme?
It is a contemporary MA programme which aims to equip students with the proper knowledge and competencies to be able to critically analyse the nature and the impact of the media in society and use the media as a tool in teaching and learning.
Nowadays, we are bombarded by a huge amount of information from several sources such as television, podcasts, advertisements and especially social media which tends to be the main communication channel. Therefore, it is crucial to be able to understand and choose the information wisely. Media education MA programme fosters critical thinking, media content production, and the ability to understand the psychosocial effects of media on society, competencies which help you become media literate. Moreover, it deals with important social issues such as: cyber-bullying, pornography, politics and social inclusion.
How is your MA programme preparing you for future work life?
I am still at the beginning of my studies and I need time to explore which path I will follow or what I will be working after graduation, but I already know this MA programme will equip me with the proper skills needed in the contemporary changing working life. For instance, ability to work in groups, critical thinking and leadership are considered to be an asset when you are applying for a job, and these are skills that we develop continuously while studying Media Education.
Moreover, as we are moving more and more towards a globalized society, living, studying and working in an international environment are highly valued by employers. We also develop presentation skills and tech-competencies, which are important and highly valued in contemporary workplaces.
What would you say to the students considering to study at the University of Lapland?
If you are seeking a lifetime experience, do not hesitate to apply! Warm clothes, energy and a positive attitude are a must here. You need to keep yourself busy and be active.
I can also promise that the application process is very smooth, and the admission office is ready to help you with any question or uncertainty during the process.
“Dare to dream, join University of Lapland”.
If you want to contact Erson and ask him more about studying in the University of Lapland or in the Media Education MA programme, you can reach him at: studentambassadors(at)ulapland.fi