Hazal, Arctic Art and Design MA student in the University of Lapland

Hazal Doğa, Turkey


After living in Istanbul and roaming the world, Hazal found happiness in Rovaniemi and direction for her future career from the University of Lapland. Now that she is studying in the Arctic Art and Design Master´s Degree Programme, she wants to solve wicked problems and make the world a better place.

Tell us something about yourself.

 My name is Hazal Doğa, I’m very much of a winter person and I’m from Turkey. I lived in Istanbul, most populated city of Turkey with approximately 17 million people and experiencing Istanbul for many years shaped what I wanted for my future, which is to live in a peaceful and safe place that makes me happy. Fortunately, I travel a lot and while I was in college, I had the chance to travel the Northern countries and I fell in love with Finland. After that trip I decided to live up north. After studying in University of Lapland and living in Rovaniemi for a year, I can happily say that it was a great decision. The nature here is amazing, I feel safe and I’m very happy with the education. I know that I want to build my life here.

Why did you choose to study in University of Lapland ?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design and through my design education I discovered that Northern countries, especially Finland, are known for their product and service design. After Industrial Design, I wanted to specialize in Service Design. After consulting my college advisor I discovered University of Lapland’s Arctic Art and Design Master’s Degree Program with Service Design specialization. University of Lapland is one of the few universities that offer education in Service Design in Europe and the teachers here are world known in this field. Combining all this information, it was easy to choose where to study.

What is different in the studying process compared to your home country? 

In Turkey the design education is very harsh on the student and you have no control over the study program or pace of the education, its very fast, loaded with all kinds of information and leaving no room for creativity if you want to do good in your classes. I remember the many sleepless nights I spent in the design workshop trying to build models for project presentations. While studying in University of Lapland I haven’t felt any stress compared to my former education. The students have control over their programs, they are not expected the impossible and after all the classes, you have time for your life out of school which leads to being more creative. In my opinion the studying process in University of Lapland is more fair and stress-free for both students and the teachers, compared to the education in Turkey.

How would you define your MA-programme?

Arctic Art and Design Master’s Degree Program is a combination of art and service design. In this program we often work in groups and with communities. The projects we have are usually on tackling problems like designing a future tourism service for sustainable development or forming an art path for the community of Lapland. You can choose what you want to work on and build your project on it. Arctic Art and Design Master’s Degree Program provides the education on art, service design and research.

How is your MA programme preparing you for future worklife? 

My program gave me the chance to explore different working opportunities. The projects we are involved in are very practical, you have to get out, explore and design. That gives us the opportunity to show our skillset and connect with companies and communities. I believe that after graduation I will be ready for the worklife.

Has studying Arctic Art and Design in University of Lapland changed your perspective ?

I can say that my perspective changed completely. Before coming to study here I thought that my future was going to be designing products and tech related services for a design firm, doing project after project, product after product. Now after studying here I want to deal with bigger issues, solve wicked problems and make the world a better place. I might not be a superhero but after studying here, I know that if we work together then we can tackle big problems, and the best of all, thinking of big problems does not stress me anymore.

How has your time in Rovaniemi changed you? 

I lived in a very big city before moving to Rovaniemi and at first I thought that after graduation I would move to Helsinki because I am a city person. But I couldn’t be more wrong. Day after day the feeling grows that Rovaniemi is a great place to live, safe, peaceful and stress-free. Yes compared to big cities, Rovaniemi is limited in certain ways but also very connected to nature with forests, lakes and rivers all around. After a year of experiencing everything in Rovaniemi, I can say that I am not a city person anymore, or, less of a city person we can say. 

Does Lapland feel like home?

Absolutely. I had a big problem before coming to Rovaniemi. I didn’t feel at home in Istanbul or anywhere in Turkey and all my travels showed that I haven’t found my home yet. After moving here and seeing all the beauty Lapland offers and the happiness I felt living here, I can absolutely say Lapland feels like home now.

What has been your greatest moment here?

In March 2018 there was a week with incredible Northern Lights. It was unbelievably beautiful. Before that I always found the phrase “feeling so small in this big universe” a cliché but that week when I saw the Northern Lights at their full beauty the first time, with open sky full of stars, I constantly felt very small but also I was filled with joy and excitement and I did not expect that. That week was one of the happiest times I’ve ever had. I still get very excited when I see Northern Lights.

Is there any advice you would share with future students?

Getting used to the culture here takes a bit of time, especially coming from a crowded and loud place but it is worth it. Also be advised that winters are very cold and dark - but also beautiful and exciting, be prepared for that. Experience what the place has to offer: ice sculpting and ice swimming, going to school with cross-country skies…There are many things to try here.

If you want to contact Hazal and ask her more about studying at the University of Lapland or in the Arctic Art and Design programme, you can reach her at: studentambassadors(at)
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