My Experience Writing my Bachelor Thesis as an Exchange Student
When hearing about my decision to write my bachelor thesis in Finland, my German friends and family reacted very shocked. They also had many questions for me. This led me to think more people may be interested in hearing about my experience. In this blog, I will answer the most frequent questions and give some tips for everyone interested in doing the same.
Did you have to write your thesis in a different language?
Yes, I had to write my thesis in English. Luckily, I was used to the language already, because of previous experiences such as work, travel, and my first semester at OAMK, where all teaching was through English. To be honest, it was still a challenge, especially because my thesis was about 80 pages long and you don’t want to repeatedly use the same words. On top of that, family and friends, who had always offered to proof-read my thesis, were no longer able to do so, as they don’t have English of a high enough standard.
Was it hard to write your thesis whilst having to follow the regulations of two universities?
Firstly, I must say that I had great teachers/professors, from both OAMK and HFU in Germany, supporting and helping me. Despite this, following both universities’ sets of regulations proved difficult. The solution was to mix the most important regulations from both sides, regularly checking in with lecturers to make sure everything was acceptable. In some cases, I had to do more than other students from my home university to follow all regulations. I would strongly advise anyone who plans on writing their thesis abroad to plan beforehand and organise a meeting with teachers from both institutions. This will prevent you from having to pass information between teachers and gives them an opportunity to discuss the regulations and standards of each institution.
Was it hard for you being in Finland and writing your thesis, during the Covid-19 pandemic?
The pandemic is a stressful situation in general. Worrying about the health of my family was what created the most stress for me. Mainly because the situation in Germany was much worse than in Finland. We had many more cases and restrictions concerning Covid-19 than Finland had. I was very lucky that I was able to stay in Finland during this time.
Was it possible for you to do the research needed, while living in a different country?
To answer this question, it is important to mention what the subject of my thesis was. My two research questions were: “What are the indirect effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the well-being of adolescents in Lower Saxony?” and “How do the adolescents adapt to the new circumstances?” The research for my thesis was hindered, due to my questionnaire receiving fewer responses than I would have liked. This occurred since, because of Covid-19 restrictions, schools in Lower Saxony were closed while I wrote my thesis, preventing students from receiving my questionnaires in time. Despite the difficulties, satisfactory research was completed. The research found that the genders show big differences in how they are influenced by, and adapt to, the new situation. This case study of 86 students (from three schools in Lower Saxony), shows the need for social support interventions for adolescents.
Would you advise other students who are interested in writing their thesis abroad to do it? If yes, why?
Yes, I would strongly advise anyone who is interested in writing their thesis abroad to do it. The experiences I had and the skills I obtained during this process were well worth the extra effort. Whenever I was too stressed, I was able to enjoy the beautiful Finnish nature around me and go for walks to the several lakes and rivers surrounding me. I could feel the nature helping me to cope with the stress. The benefits of spending time in nature were also represented in my research on the adolescents. I applied some of the coping mechanisms which I researched in my thesis to my own daily life. During the whole process I had three mentors guiding me, instead of only one. On top of this, I profited from the culturally different insight into my topic, which I got by talking to my Finnish mentors about it. One more thing that really kept me motivated was, that I knew my thesis will be published on Theseus and it will not just end up in a drawer of my home university, somewhere where nobody will ever read it again.
Exchange Student of Oulu University of Applied Sciences