Diego, aged 24, is an environmental engineering student from Spain. Before his studies at Xamk, Diego studied environmental sciences at the University of Malaga and was on exchange in Kuopio.

– I am here basically completing my degree. In Kuopio I decided that I wanted to complete my studies here in Finland. I found out that there are only two universities of applied sciences in Finland that offer an English degree programme in environmental engineering. I decided to apply to Xamk because it is closer to Kuopio. Mikkeli is also a smaller city, so living here is cheaper.

Studying in Finland

As Diego has studied in two different universities before applying to Xamk, he is able to give us some insight into how the schools compare.
– There are differences. In Spain it’s like the old traditional university style. You have to study a lot and take exams. But here in Finland it is totally different. You have to study, for sure, but it is more practical. You are learning by doing things. Almost every day you are in the lab or write reports that complete lectures.
– The teachers split the courses into different parts and you are given topics that you write reports on. You are essentially doing your own research and getting more information that way than what the teacher would otherwise provide you with during the course.  In that way, you are studying the fields that interest you the most.

What kind of things do you do in the lab?

– It depends on the course and the topic. For example, we have courses in microbiology where we take samples of microbes. First we make them grow and then check the effect of antibiotics on them. In other courses, such as waste management, for example, we make compost and purify polluted samples from landfills, check heat values of wood chips or treat water from wastewater plants. In addition, in some courses we have small trips to companies to see how they work.

Which one do you think is better, the traditional way or the Finnish way?

– I think it is better to learn by doing. I think it is important to have a lot of work experience, such as writing reports or whatever. Because once you are in the real working life, your boss is probably going to ask you to write reports. It is more useful than just studying for exams.

Get a Finnish family

Xamk has a programme where foreign students are paired up with a Finnish student and their family.
– I strongly recommend foreign students to apply to the programme. I think it is a good way to meet new people and get to know the Finnish culture. It is also a good way to get someone who can help you if you get into an emergency here. I think it’s really nice.


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