The Master's Degree Programme in

Environment and Natural Resources MENVI

Interviews and experiences of a current MENVI student

Photo by: Linda Tammisto

Name: Clara-Theresia Kumer
Country of origin: Austria

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am Clara-Theresia, originally from Austria, and am presently close to finishing my first year as a MENVI student here at the University of Helsinki. I am majoring in Microbiology, allowing me to study the smallest, but nonetheless most fascinating organisms of this planet.

  1. How did you find the MENVI programme? What motivated you to apply to a master’s programme in Finland? Where there some specific courses that attracted you?

I moved to Finland some years ago to finish my Bachelor’s degree. As I fell in love with the country, not only because of its amazing nature and friendly people, but also because of its educational possibilities, I wanted to stay and also compete the next level of my higher education here. After completing my undergraduate degree, I noticed that my interests were very diverse. It was hard to decide for myself what I want to specialise in. I was particularly drawn to the field of microbiology with a strong connection to environmental science and related fields. After exploring my possibilities through online research, I came to the conclusion that University of Helsinki was the only university in Finland offering an international degree programme that appeared to be perfectly tailored for my educational aspirations.

  1. What are the best parts of being a student at the University of Helsinki?

A student of the University of Helsinki, you are free to choose from a great variety of courses from all faculties and departments. This enables you to create a very rich and colourful personal curriculum. If you have time to work on your Finnish language skills and the broad variety of courses thought in English is not enough, you can even attend lectures and courses held in Finnish. Besides the educational possibilities, the university of Helsinki is an excellent and renovated research institution. Already during your studies you get a glimpse of the research conducted at your own and other departments. Furthermore, you have the possibility to be part of a research group when writing your Master’s thesis and thereby developing yourself professionally in your field.

  1. What makes MENVI a great master’s programme?

MENVI is a very unique program, as its approach is to include four different angels of environmental science into one degree. Even though I am educated to be an expert in Microbiology, I am also able to take part in courses of other disciplines in the environmental field. MENVI is a great possibility for me to follow my diverse interests, but at the same time to remain focused to my major subject.

  1. What is the biggest difference between your previous education/ education in your home country and education in this master’s programme?

Academic freedom. I had very little freedom in picking courses during my undergraduate studies and the number of courses taught in English was limited. Here, at the University of Helsinki, the course selection is great and I am able to create a very diverse curriculum.

  1. What would you improve in the MENVI programme?

If I had to think about something that could be improved about the MENVI programme, it would be the connection to the Finnish students. We, the first MENVI students, have formed a close bond, being friends in and outside of the campus life.  This was amazing. However, I soon realised that most of the time the connections are made more frequently between foreigners than between foreigners and Finns. This is a known issue and somewhat natural, resulting from the language barrier. But perhaps the connection between MENVI students and Finnish students of the same major subjects could be improved by introducing the MEVNI students properly to the Finnish student community.

  1. Where do you see yourself after graduation?

Still here. No, just joking. Hopefully still here. I would really like to start a career in research and as my goal is to educate myself as much as possible, the first step in that direction would be a PhD degree. As I already mentioned, the University of Helsinki is a great research institutions and being able to continue my studies here would be a great opportunity.  On the other side, it would be nice to move back home and continue at the University of Vienna or elsewhere in Europe to gain more international experience. What ever may come, I am confident that the degree I will obtain through MENVI, will be a great foundation for my aspired research career.

  1. Tell us your favourite place on Viikki campus.

I have so many favourite places here at the campus, it is hard to pick the best one. The campus is located within the Helsinki city area, however surrounded by fields and other green areas. The fact that you can see, but foremost smell, the cows of the research farm makes you forget the busy city life and gives you the relaxing feeling of the country side. Another place at the campus I love is the arboretum and its nature trails, where I take walks or just to relax. However, when I am so busy that I have no time to relax, my favourite place is the campus library. The computer workstations, or the quiet reading areas are the perfect working environments to get things done.

  1. Tell us your best tips for future MENVI students.

I am very excited to meet the new MENVI students. As we were the first ones, we did not really have people we could ask directly ‘so, how is it?’. Therefore, my tip is to make use of us first MENVI students. Come to meet us or send as mail and ask us everything you want to know. I am sure every one of us will be glad to help you if we can.  I would also recommend you to get to know people and professors at your department. They are very nice people and will be very helpful regarding your studies.

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