Maria in Finland:
EVERYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF IS DIFFERENT.
…I WENT BACK TO LAPLAND IN DECEMBER AND IT WAS SO COLD THAT MY HAIR FROZE.
[Maria in Narvik, Norway]
Student name: Maria José Silva.
Year of the “Mobility Experience”: 2012.
Home institution: ESAD.CR, Portugal.
Course: Graphic and Multimedia Design.
Host institution: Kuopio Academy of Design, Finland.
Course or field of study: Textile Design.
Why did you choose this school?
Finland was a country that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time so I chose the country, not the school and Kuopio Academy of Design was the only school in Finland with an agreement with ESAD.
Did you like the school?
Yes, it was a very laid-back environment and the people were quiet and nice. The school had good workspaces and materials.
How far was the school from the city?
The school had several buildings, I had classes in two of them and they were 15 and 20 minutes away from the city center.
Your field of study is well developed in the school?
I don’t know because they had just closed down Graphic Design and they didn’t have Multimedia so I couldn’t take my course.
What other areas of study are developed in this school?
Fashion and clothing design, Industrial design, Ceramics, Jewellery and Interior Architecture and Furniture design.
How did you relate to native teachers and students?
At first it was hard to talk to other students because the Finns are quiet and I’m quiet, but they were always friendly and as soon as we had our first conversations we felt more comfortable and both the students and the teachers were very helpful and patient.
This school is “ideal” for…
…experimenting and work in the textile/fashion department.
The worst part was that some classes were happening at the same time so we always had to skip some of them and the schedule was hard to understand so we always had trouble knowing which classes to take.
Where did you stay?
One of my tutors found me an apartment with four Finnish girls. I was supposed to stay there temporarily but I ended up staying with them the whole time.
[View from my apartment.]
How far was the accommodation from the school? And from the city?
I was staying 2,5 km away from the first building and city center and 3 km from the second building.
It had good conditions?
How much did it cost?
We agreed on 200€/month. If I had stayed with the Student Housing Company (Kuopas) I would have paid at least 50€ more.
[The best of Finland – music.]
Did you like the food?
Yes, except for the reindeer.
How was the standard of living?
Did you visit other cities?
Yes, I was in Rovaniemi (for a month doing the EILC), Inari, Turku, Lahti, Helsinki and I even went to Norway.
What do you think are the major cultural differences?
Everything you can think of is different. The streets are cleaner, they don’t go inside the house with their shoes on and the temperature inside is always warm. People there are more reserved and quiet; they probably won’t take the first step if they want to talk to you (unless they are drunk) and even though the Finns might point some bad things about Finland they are proud of their country.
I find it very important that there are bike tracks so people can jog and ride a bike without having to do it on the road. And Finland has the cleanest tap water.
[First taste of the Finnish food.]
Did you receive a grant?
Did you make friendships with native people?
Do you plan to go back?
I wish I had never left! I can’t wait to go back. There are still a lot of things to do and see there. I love Finland and I could live there.
What do you think that this experience brought to you in the personal and professional level?
I think I’m not so scared of strangers and doing things and going to places alone, I know I’ll be fine. And while I was in Finland it was very easy to be social and talkative. I don’t think it has brought a lot on the professional side because I wasn’t doing my course, however I did learn a few things about sewing and the drawing classes were the best I’ve had.
Did you experience some adventure or strange situation you’d like to share?
Well, I went back to Lapland in December and it was so cold that my hair froze. I had never experienced such cold temperatures but it’s not so bad, you just have to be prepared with a good winter coat, wear a lot of layers and of course, gloves.
A recommendation for future “Mobility Students”:
Enjoy it and have fun while you’re there, time flies. And if you can, do the EILC, it’s the best.