My name is Anna-Maija Hunter, I’ve started a degree in Business studies at Xamk Mikkeli campus in August 2017.

I’m originally from Mikkeli and moved to live in the UK in the year 2000. I’ve returned to my home town this summer after spending 17 years abroad.

I left with not a care in the world, a big smile on my face and 20 kg of my most treasured possessions that I could take on the flight without exceeding the luggage allowance. I’ve returned with the same big smile on my face, a couple of grey hairs, a husband, a crazy dog, two lively young children and a 20ft container full of my most treasured possessions. Life has gotten super busy!


I originally started a business studies degree in England but I quit half way through to focus on my career. Over the years I’ve regretted not completing my studies and this spring decided to do something about it and applied to study at Xamk. To my amazement I got a place to start in August 2017.

I’m still the captain of the ship of my life

I’m sure for many parents the list of hobbies consists of cooking, cleaning and acting as a referee when the kids have fight so it has been amazing to have your own thing to focus on that takes you away from the life of Dora the Explorer and Ninjago. As much as I love my family, it’s a great feeling to know that I’m doing something for myself and that I’m not ‘just’ someones mum or someones wife. I’m still the captain of the ship of my life and I’m steering it to a new direction.

What I’ve also found since I’ve returned home is that Finnish people put a really high value on education and are really supportive of lifelong learning. Even my mum is still studying! It’s never too late!

All our lectures are online

Since I was at University over 10 years ago things have changed somewhat. The biggest development has been all the technology advances we’ve had in the last decade and it has taken a little bit of time for an older lady like me to get used to all the tools we need to use in our studies. A month in, and I think I’m finally getting there.

Technology has also brought on the one thing that has made it possible for someone who has other life commitments to complete a degree (and who hasn’t got other commitments, right?). I’m able to study and have a go at this being a mum business at the same time thanks to online studies.

I had two classroom days in August and the rest of my studies are completed online!


That’s right! I’m totally in charge of when I choose to work on my assignments, all our lectures are online and if you can’t attend them at the time they get recorded so you can watch them at a later date, we do group assignments via Skype and work on documents on a shared drive, and all work is handed in online.

We’ve even started a Facebook group where we share ideas/ frustrations/ questions etc. with other people on the course. Thank goodness for online studies since I would most definitely feel out of place sitting in a classroom full of people almost 20 years younger than me wearing crop tops and chatting about Justin Bieber (I’m only kidding of course, most people in Finland would be wearing heavy metal t-shirts rather than crop tops).


Anna-Maija Hunter

Mikkeli is a great place to live

I’m not sure if I’ve changed over the years or the town has, or perhaps a bit of both but I definitely see Mikkeli in a different light than I did when I was younger. There’s so much I possibly took for granted that I’ve learned to appreciate over the years plus there’s been lots of improvements made to the town.

Finnish lifestyle is healthy and if you’re even one bit outdoorsy Mikkeli is a great place to live. Everything is within walking distance or you can ride a bike for the slightly longer journeys. In fact, I don’t recall seeing as many people on bicycles since I visited in Amsterdam; everyone is at it from school kids to pensioners.

There’s lots of different nature trails around, the nearest one to the Mikkeli campus is a couple of hundred meters away in Urpola. These are crucial to me since I do a lot of thinking, planning and processing information when I walk and I also need somewhere to exercise my crazy dog.

It doesn’t end there though, for example: there’s a local downhill skiing centre that my husband is dying to visit in the winter, the kids have started ice skating lessons in the local ice stadium and I’ve joined adult ballet lessons (if I say I’m not yet Anna Pavlova we’ll leave it at that!). There’s something for everyone and if I’m honest it’s a tough job selecting what to do as there’s so much on offer.

Mikkeli has no doubt everything you need but ‘variety is the spice of life’ so it’s brilliant to have a regular train service to Helsinki which takes just over a couple of hours. The journey time to Helsinki was a major deciding factor on where we would live. In my last job in the UK I travelled two hours each way just to get to work and back so the combination of having Helsinki practically on your doorstep with all the small town perks Mikkeli has to offer it was a no brainer to come back home.

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