Interview with Marianna Vivitsou- Graduate scholars in University of Helsinki

Marianna Vivitsou

So Marianna, how many years have you been studying in Finland?

I move to Finland in August 2010 but I have been a “commuting” student since 2007. I was living in Greece and trying to study from there but it was impossible so I decided to move here.

How does it feel to be an international student in Finland?

It feels lonely and little strange. I thought that I would be more involved with the research community but it was not like that. One reason is that there are not many courses available, and there are not enough doctoral seminars. I know that there are seminars but organized in Finnish but my Finnish is not in a level that I could participate completely in Finnish. Then there are seminars that are held in Finnish but there are some parts translated in English so that the international students can be more active in the seminar. Though, recently I experienced that it was not the case either. One day the professor who was organizing the seminar decided that he will have it only in Finnish for the benefit of the presenter and he asked the international students to leave the seminar. We were two international students and four Finnish students. That did not feel so nice.

Would you like to stay in Finland after the graduation?

I could stay in Finland for some time after the graduation – depends on the opportunities, and I hope that I can finish my studies but it is not easy. There are some gaps in a way. I thought that I can come here and go back Greece but it was not possible. Then, when I moved here still it was challenging, cause, I felt somehow like pushed in a corner. The outcome was almost the same and then with this situation with my supervisor when we were asked to leave the seminar I was thinking that it cannot be only because of me. There is also something in the system.

Now, when I have four courses this semester, and one of them is Finnish language course it is little different. I need to have some understanding on the Finnish language so that I can better understand the metaphors of Finnish teachers that I am using for my thesis and it is also part of the language and culture of the people and the place where I am living at the moment. The other three courses are delivered in the English language. We did not have English courses last academic year. This the thing that now I feel like I am learning.

How does it feel to be an international student in Finland?

It is actually little hard because the system is not designed to accommodate international students. Willingness for internationalisation is not enough. There should be some planning and involvement to have international students to take part in the improvement processes.