Student exchange experience
Jasper Lehn is a student at Hochschule Osnabrϋck in Germany. Last autumn 2020 he studied at Oulu University of Applied Sciences in the Department of Natural Resources. This is how he describes his studies and his exchange experience.
At my home school I study industrial engineering in the field of agrar. I have studied 2,5 years now and have one year to go until I finish my bachelor’s degree. After graduation most of my fellow students are speculating on a job in a large agricultural company like Grimme or Claas. Personally, I would like to work on my own farm and drive it forward.
I decided to study abroad because I have always been interested in other cultures, countries, and people. It was clear to me already at the beginning of the studies that I wanted to spend a semester abroad. Before my semester in Oulu, I had not been to Finland or Scandinavia, but I travelled from country to country for a year in 2017. I worked in Australia as a farmer, which is why I spent 7 months there. Afterwards I went with the money to New Zealand, Fiji, Hong Kong, and the USA to see the different countries and cultures. In Finland and in Scandinavia agriculture is very different from that in Germany. After taking a closer look at the different countries, the sauna culture of Finland caught my eye. Apart from that, I had hoped for a snowy winter and cold temperatures, which I eventually got.
In Oulu I took two courses ”Bio Economy Development” and ”Management Plan for Rural Enterprise and Environment”. Both courses were very open in their own design. In the course ”Bio Economy Development” we were allowed to choose a bioeconomic project ourselves, analyse it and present it at the end of the semester. The project could therefore be chosen according to one’s own interests.
In the course ”Management Plan for Rural Enterprise and Environment” we analysed a farm and thought about possibilities to develop the farm further. So, we came in direct contact with the Finnish farmers.
In both courses we worked in groups, which meant that I quickly developed friendships with Finnish students. The teachers themselves were more helpers in the projects and always took time if problems arose while working on the projects. I noticed a close and a personal relationship with the professors, as well as the proximity to practice.
Besides studies I did a lot of tours in Finland, Norway and Estonia with the other exchange students. Through Corona, all courses were online, and we could literally attend lectures all over the country.
Besides the classics like skiing, snowmobiling, husky tours and watching the northern lights, we went hiking and fishing in the Lofoten Islands and went to Tallinn at the beginning of the semester. I was especially surprised that at the beginning of the semester you could still swim in the lake or the sea.
When choosing a target country, I had Finland in mind quite late. First, I thought of large and well-known countries like the USA, Canada or Australia, but most of the time you already know these countries and cultures and it is worthwhile to consider other countries. Finland is a good opportunity for this. I am absolutely thrilled with the country, the university and the friends I made during my time there.
I definitely felt that the teachers always had an open ear and made an effort to help me, but there were moments when the teachers switched to Finnish because otherwise it would be too hard for the Finnish students to follow the lecture. Sometimes I felt that the Finnish students were a bit reserved to have an international student with them. Luckily, I had such a helpful group to help me. I think that a module that is designated as an English module should be in English, even if there is no exchange student present.
I gained from my time in Oulu mainly the colloquial English and the proximity to other cultures. I would have liked to visit other farms, but this was not easily possible due to Corona.