Yulia Louckx is originally from Karelia, Russia, but nowadays she enjoys the Finnish lifestyle in the Northern part of the country, with her husband and son. She is also a proud alumna of the Xamk. She graduated in 2014 as a Bachelor of Business Administration. “Studying in Mikkeli really changed my life. I will truly never forget that time”, she says.
Now Yulia lives in Oulu and works at the Oulun Osaamiskeskus and Multicultural Center Villa as a multilingual advisor. She tells that her expertise mainly lies in the international customer services. Thanks to her colorful past in different countries, she speaks Russian, English, Dutch and is learning Finnish. She enjoys communication with and being surrounded by people from very diverse backgrounds.
FROM RUSSIA TO MIKKELI
How did Yulia end up studying in Finland then? She tells that everything from nature and peacefulness to Finnish culture fascinated her. She came to Finland first time when she was 16 years old. Afterwards her parents encouraged her to apply for studies in Finland and she found out about Mamk. She got a study place in a BBA -program and moved to Mikkeli in August 2011.
It was all quite new to me when I moved to Mikkeli. I knew where the city was on a map, but I hadn’t ever visited it before my studies. I was so excited about the studies and the beginning of a new chapter of my life. It definitely was a big step for me and my future for sure.
She tells about the student dormitory in Raviradantie and all the fun memories they made there together with other students. “It was a great experience to live right next to each other. I think it wouldn’t have been the same if we were living in different parts of the city”, she says with a smile on her face. Yulia’s experience about Mikkeli was great overall; she felt welcomed and part of the community. She became a peer tutor and an active person in student community. She even got a Student of the Year –award. “I was so surprised, but also very flattered”, she laughs.
FROM MIKKELI TO BELGIUM
The exchange opportunities were comprehensive and students were very much encouraged to apply for the exchange. Louckx’s first idea for exchange was to go to the States, but fate intervened and she ended up going to Belgium with her nowadays-husband Ward. Yulia met her husband at the campus when he was an Exchange student in IT in Mikkeli. They started to build their life together in Belgium and Yulia kept doing her bachelor’s degree remotely. “I only came back to Finland once to represent my Bachelor’s thesis written for a Belgian craft brewery”, she says.
Shortly after the graduation, Yulia found a job in an international health insurance company. There she provided high-quality customer service for the company’s customers located all over the world. After a few years in Belgium, Yulia and her husband felt like Belgium was not the right place for them, even though they had friends, jobs and family there. “Everything was good in Belgium for us, but we wanted a change and thought that Finland would be a much better place for all of us. We just loved the nature, clean air, cold white winters, Finnish lifestyle… We were also sure that Finland was the best country for children. So we started to plan our move back to Finland.”
FROM BELGIUM TO OULU
In 2019, Yulia and her husband Ward took a big risk and quit their jobs, sold everything they owned and moved to Oulu with their one-year old son Elias.
“We had enough savings to live in Oulu for a year while looking for a job. We agreed that if it wouldn’t work out, we’d just move back to Belgium after that one year. Luckily, it’s all worked out and we are now very happy living here”, Yulia tells. She mentions that the only struggle in Finland is finding a job, where you wouldn’t need Finnish language. ICT is might be the only field, where you can succeed as a foreigner without Finnish language skills. “In Belgium, it wasn’t like this – there were a lot of job opportunities, where English was enough. As I’m not from ICT, I realized that I’d get career opportunities if I speak Finnish, so I started learning it more intensively.”
Yulia says that working with other foreigners and helping them feels natural to her. “I’ve been in an international environment since studying in Mikkeli, so I think that international communications and the ability to interact with people from diverse backgrounds is one of my strengths. During my studies at Mamk I learnt a lot of different subjects related to business administration and management. That gave me a good starting point. As the world changes fast, it’s now up to me to grow and further develop my skills. Lifelong learning is the key.”
BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES AND GREAT OPPORTURNITIES
Through university, I got an idea that people in Finland are caring and you as a student are valued. The feeling that teachers cared about me and my learning motivated me to keep going and be active.
Yulia tells that studying in Mikkeli was the cornerstone of her future personal and professional life. The life-changing chapter started in Finland and happily brought her and her family back to Finland. She reminds all students to seize this moment and try out new things. Life surprises you when you stay open and curious.
Do what you enjoy doing, what excites and gives you energy, be open to new, and stay curious. Ask for help and you’ll get it. Don’t worry about grades. Have fun, meet people, talk, dance, and just enjoy being a student!
Text: Matleena Ahoranta