Stevie has enjoyed having an education with a different set of eyes. Weather conditions similar to back home haven´t required much adjusting, so she has had time to concentrate on comparing European and American views the world and running the English speaking group in Café Lingua.
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Stevie Lynn Hunter and I’m from the state of Vermont which is in the northeast corner of the United States. I was originally born in West Virginia but we moved when I was six months to Vermont and we have been there ever since. I am in my final year at the University of Vermont. I study Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies with a minor in English. I decided to come to Rovaniemi because my university has an exchange partnership with the University of Lapland, and Rovaniemi sounded like a fun experience!
What were the challenges you had faced here?
There haven’t been any major challenges for me, yet. I’m from a similar climate so the cold doesn’t scare me. Except, Vermont doesn’t get as dark as Rovaniemi so going forward into November and December it might become a challenge, I’ll just have to wait and see. I thought biking to school everyday would be a challenge, the uphill still is, but I’ve actually really enjoyed it.
Did you feel the darkness?
Yes. In the morning, I’m starting to feel it. Especially at this time of year when the light is being lost so quickly.
Could you compare your studies back home and studying here?
It’s really different than my studies back home, but I really like it. Back home we have semester long classes, I usually take five per semester. It’s really different for me to have a class that lasts a month. The upside of this, is that my exams aren’t all at the same time which makes studying one subject and focusing much easier. The only downside is that there are some classes I would have enjoyed to have for longer here because I really enjoyed the material. Which, I guess this is a good downside!
What I’ve really enjoyed is having an American background in education and comparing it with European styles of education and conversation. There’s also such differences in the way Europeans and Americans view the world, and what pressing problems they see their communities facing, so I’ve really enjoyed having an education with a different set of eyes: a European one, a Finnish one, and a Lapland one.
Did you face any difficulties at studies here?
No, I really haven’t. I think my only difficulty was figuring out how the credits were going to transfer back home because we’re not on the ECTS system. So, the beginning felt a little hectic when trying to figure out my schedule and which classes to take.
Does Rovaniemi feel like home?
It does! I didn’t realize it until I went on the ESN St. Petersburg trip. And, the cruise ship back to Helsinki plus the travel time of the bus to Rovaniemi was a little less than 36 hours, and I kept thinking, ‘wow! I can’t wait to be home!’ And, I realized that Rovaniemi had slowly become my home without even realizing it.
Did you make any friends here?
Yes! I’ve met many wonderful exchange students in Kuntotie and my classes whom I’ve become friends with.
How do you spend your free time?
I’ve been a Café Lingua leader for the English speaking group. I do that every Thursday night at Café Koti, it’s a lot of fun! I have people who come regularly and some just pop in a couple times. It’s a great way to meet other students and locals. They always have good advice. Plus, the English group has planned activities every other week. Next week we’re doing game board night. That should be a lot of fun!
Why did you apply to become an International Student Ambassador?
I applied to become an International Student Ambassador because I wanted to become more involved with the university. It seemed like a fun opportunity to meet new people and to talk about my experience.
What tips would you give to new students who are applying to study here?
Definitely read up on the culture, the environment, the history and anything else that you can find. I read a short book about Finnish culture and history before I came and it was really useful!
Can you name something unexpected that happened to you during your studies here?
I haven’t really felt homesick. I expected to feel homesick and I do miss my family but I haven’t felt a real deep pain of homesickness. I think it’s because all the exchange students live together and I’ve been able to have a great community of friends here. We keep busy and have fun! I also haven’t minded biking to school everyday as much as I thought I would.
Would you recommend people to come here?
Yes, of course!
Would you like to share something with our future students?
Do everything you can at the University. Take the class, join the club, talk to people, and have fun!