KATHMANDU, Nov 11: Many Nepali students wishing for productive higher education in a European country and wanting it at minimum financial costs choose Finland as a destination.
One such student is Basanta Acharya, 23, who went to Finland three years ago for his Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. After finishing his high school, when he was wondering about his higher studies, one of his friends suggested about trying to study in Finland. And he is glad he talked to some relatives of his friends studying in Finland, and applied for the universities. He is studying in Turku University of Applied Sciences and seems quite satisfied with his choice. “Except for missing my family and friends in Nepal, everything is good,” he shares.
“Personally for me, I wanted to be independent from my family. If I had gone to any other country, then I would have to work to pay tuition fees, and probably quit my studies due to the work load. But here, I can work just enough to pay for my living expenses and the education is taken care of by the university. A European degree will look good while applying for a job after studies, he elaborates. And he is happy that most youngsters speak English and there is no language barrier in school.
Another student, Pravat Belbase, 20, also chose Finland to study as education is free there. He went there three months ago. He is studying Engineering in Electronics at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. He shares that the education system there is totally different from that in Nepal. “I often talk to my friends doing Engineering in Electronics about their study materials and the way of teaching is different there. I’ve realized that in Finland, studies are based mostly on practical, rather than lectures. And only the relevant topics are discussed so classes don’t become boring.”
His courses are also conducted in English but he has to attend Finnish language class, which is compulsory for one and a half years.
Talking about the lifestyle and culture in Finland, since they are different to that of Nepal, international students take some time adapting to the environment. Basanta shares that from the Finnish way of living, he has learnt a lot, apart from academics. He feels that living far away from family means not getting to complain or cry over anything. And there won’t be curfew hours or constant nagging from family but in return students learn to do things responsibly and independently.
“You’ll learn to cross the road only at zebra crossings, even if there are no vehicles on the road,” he quips. He also shares that Finland teaches people to respect everyone, no matter what their social status, gender, job or religion is. “Finns respect everyone equally regardless of their jobs. Most Finnish or international students work in cleaning industries in their student lives,” he observes.
“Finns are socially shy folks. But once you get to know them, they are friendly people. They will respect you if you are hard working and socially adapting. If you want to be friend with a Finn, you should be the one breaking the ice because they won’t do so unless they are drunk during weekends,” he quips.
He also says that he enjoys the weather there. Summer in Finland feels as warm as Nepal, he shares. “The winter is completely different though. The snow remains for around four months – November-December and Mrch-April. During these months, the lowest temperature can reach somewhere around 35 Minus,” he reminisces. Even in that cold temperature, life goes on as usual, he adds. He suggests that it might be a bit difficult at first for new students but they can get used to it after some time.
According to Basanta, compared to Nepal, the living expenses for a student is quite high. He shares that it costs around 6,000 Euros a year if one is living in a student housing (cheaper than private apartments) and use student transportation cards. But it depends on how students live, too. If one is a party animal, drink a lot or is a heavy smoker, 6,000 may not be enough, but for a person with an average spending habit, it will be sufficient.
And students usually do part-time jobs to make their life easier. Legally, students can work for about 25 hours a week.
However, getting to study in a university in Finland is not as easy as it sounds. “You need to pass the entrance examination conducted by the universities in order to get a place of study. You have to go through joint entrance examinations for most of the universities but a few universities conduct these entrance examinations separately. Also, you need a good English proficiency level (IELTS Score 6.0) to get a place in Finnish universities,” Basanta informs.
According to Katri Seppanen, Entry Permit Officer of the Embassy of Finland in Bishal Nagar, visa is provided for a stay of less than 90 days. So students have to apply for a residence permit. This not only allows students to live in Finland for more than 90 days, but also makes them eligible to work legally.
To apply for a resident permit, students need to register online at the Finnish Immigration Service’s e-service, and attach scanned documents along with the application. However, students should take the hardcopy of the scanned documents to the embassy for further verification. Acceptance letter from the college or university in Finland is a must to apply for the residence permit. A fee of 300 Euros is charged for the submission of the residence permit application. After collecting the documents, the Finnish Embassy of Nepal sends them to Finland, where the actual decision regarding the residence permit is made. The processing generally takes up to two months.
Contact the Embassy of Finland in Nepal for further information or visit their website finland.org.np.