My name is Daria Chekalskaia and this year I will start my second year as an environmental engineer-student of Xamk. And today I want to share my story with you.

I was born in Russia, in the city which counts more than 1 million people. I finished my high school and was questioned where to study. The thought of applying to Finland came spontaneously with a lot of fears, stereotypes and biases. Nobody believed that it is possible to study abroad, I did not have anybody who had gone through this path, so I started to do everything by myself with the help of Internet and students I found on Facebook. Step by step I prepared myself for studying abroad and started to wake up with the though that one day I will become a student of Finnish UAS.

My choice of Finland was dictated by high level of life in that country, free education for foreigners (in that time), opportunity to study in English and closeness to home-country. Then I started to search about different programs and cities to study in. I was not sure about my choice of specialization, I did not know whom I wanted to be. After all, I chose environmental engineering since it seemed to be really important to that world. Xamk appeared on the horizon also spontaneously: why not to try to live in the small town? And campus looked amazing in the pictures. However, after taking the exam, I felt frustrated and though that my dream will not become true. When I got an email from Xamk with congratulations. I believe it was my second day of birth. And I started to prepare for my independent life abroad in the town called Mikkeli!

Studying in Xamk

Firstly, I quickly realized that we will be given only basics in terms of our specialization: something from physics, maths, legislation, economics, chemistry, etc. The student needs to push oneself to study with books, Internet and teachers independently. And I do it quite successful, to my mind.

Secondly, finnish educational system (and probably mentality) allows you to be flexible with your studies and take a responsibility for what and when you take during your studies. This approach was strange for me, however, since it is humanistic, it is easy to get used to such power you have about study management.

Thirdly, Xamk itself is developing UAS which faces different challenges. I feel comfortable since I get used to be active and find all opportunities by myself. For those, who really do not understand Finnish and is shy to ask, it possibly will take some time and effort to take part in university and city life.

Living in Mikkeli

Speaking about Mikkeli, I need to make it clear, that I am super active person with unique skill of finding cool thing even in the empty place. I cannot say that Mikkeli is undoubtedly small and does not have a lot thing to do, but it took me a while to start to live the same life I lived in my hometown, Ufa.

Benefits I can mention comparing to my previous experience:

  • less people and traffic
  • more forests and access to nature
  • no transportation needed except bike which I took from the university
  • you can easily either find some activities or arrange them (chance to be a superstar in a small town)

For sure, there are some drawbacks:

  • not so many free of charge activities
  • hard to find rare activities (as I mentioned you can organize them)
  • not so many diversity in any senses. Easy to be bored if you do not put effort for your entertainment

Have I already became environmental engineer?

Not so fast. I was lucky enough to choose close to my heart specialization. Now I am about to choose my priority areas and work on it in my free time. For now, they are waste management and renewables. Also I would love to work with people, explaining importance of being environment-friendly. So, this program fits me well.

My favorite part in studying here is the chance to participate in the international projects. I wrote here about Neptune project in theNetherlands which was my first working-on-the-real-case experience. Also I got an opportunity to become a part of the crew in Jurassic Rock Festival this summer, where we could apply all our knowledge in terms of noise pollution. If you are motivated to self-development student, you will get high chances to participate in any kind of such projects.

Are there any challenges so far?

In terms of difficulties both in my studies and life, I need to emphasis my optimistic view on this world. Sometimes it is hard to live your life fully when it is so dark in the wintertime. However, I found the way out: staying in Xamk for late doing homework and going to gym, so that I really did not notice how winter finished. And so on with all that small problems everybody meets.

I think it is always hard to predict where your path will go in 2-5 years. However, general idea is to stay in Finland for getting an experience of working, enjoying all activities I can find and organize. After all, it would be great to become a specialist, getting Master diploma, and, probably, go for a work to the countries which are not so successful in terms of being green.  There is always something to do for environmentalists in that 21 century world. That’s why I believe that I will definitely find my place to make a contribution to saving our planet to the next generations.

What I wanted to point out is:

  • If you have your own interests and if you are really dedicated person, you will definitely will continue your active lifestyle.
  • If you don’t build high expectations about your new-alone-international-student life and will enjoy what you have, you will definitely be satisfied.
  • If you understand that universities are just a platform, not a complete tool for your development, you will be happy to study in that flexible environment independently.
  • I truly believe that it was the right choice in terms of my present experience and future potential. As our university’s motto says: «All for the future». For my bright future.

Check my blog about my active finnish student life in Mikkeli:

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