Semester two catch-up from my third year abroad in Finland

Terve readers, Olivia here! I admit it has been a while since my last blog and much has happened since then. We’re living in different and challenging time right now, especially in this part of Europe, yet I am fortunate to have been able to continue my studies and travels in Finland safely.

Where have I travelled during semester two?

EVERYTHING about Lapland was breath-taking, it was exactly as I had imagined and more! Seeing dancing Aurora’s (Northern Lights) and skiing for the first time were my personal highlights. The husky’s who took us on the safari were so cute too.

The Biathlon World Cup in Kontiolahti illustrated the beauty of East Finland through the snow and the rural quiet, but through the kindness of Finns as well. I would recommend going to a biathlon race if you have the opportunity to as they are so intense and atmospheric!

Riga, the capital of Latvia, has significant cultural richness, especially in the Old Town. This trip gave me a unique insight into the turbulent history of Latvia, and I really appreciated how the city remembers its pivotal historical moments through the authenticity of its museums.

What about the academic side of things?

After a wonderful two weeks at home over the Christmas holidays, I was ready to enter semester two. This time I knew that it would be more challenging than my first semester. Alongside saying goodbye to my family and acknowledging that many of my friends from the first semester had left Turku, I faced the academic challenge of semester two. I had selected nine exciting subjects that I hadn’t encountered in my previous studies. From January to May, I would study: Human Rights Law in Europe; Autonomy and Participation; Swedish Language and Migration, Development and Human Rights are only a few examples. It was a lot to take on and I had coincidently organised one trip per month to make the most out of my remaining time in Finland.

The workload has been intense, so there were occasions when I thought that I would struggle to have time to provide each of my courses with adequate attention alongside balancing other commitments. Now it feels like I am on the other side of the main intense period. With great results coming in and only 3 courses remaining in the semester! The pressure has eased considerably!

Any reflections?

I have learned a lot about my work ethic and goals whilst increasing my confidence and understanding of the law and its complexities. Most significantly, the breadth of subjects that I am studying at Turun Yliopisto and Åbo Akademi has broadened my perspective on legal issues such as the protection of international human rights. The impact of intelligence systems on modern society. The global issues relating to minority and indigenous peoples and how the law has a huge part to play in sustainable development internationally.

Of course, I must also mention Covid. The restrictions in Turku have eased considerably, so engagement in classes has become easier now that they are in person. Although, the independent learning model at Turun Yliopisto remains a key element of Finnish higher education, thus leaving less room for interaction with my teachers and peers. The contact teaching in Worcester is something that I look forward to returning to.

A snapshot of a peaceful demonstration that I attended in Turku back in February.

Finally, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the war in Ukraine and that I stand with its people in their fight for freedom. Here in Finland, there is widespread condemnation of what is happening, while personally I hope to help my church with a response to aid the refugees who are arriving in Turku and surrounding areas.

Until next time, Olivia x