One year lasts a lifetime

University of Helsinki’s student Cecilia Wester is this year’s Brittingham Scholarship awardee.

University of Helsinki

“If you have ever even thought about going abroad, I highly recommend it” suggests Cecilia Wester, final year Social Work Master’s student. Of course it is hard to leave everyone and everything you love behind, but I can guarantee that you will not regret it!”

Only one whole year Brittingham Scholarship is awarded to a Finnish student annually; this year it is Cecilia Wester. Wester already was a University of Helsinki exchange student to the US in 2011. From August 2013 on she will study at the University of Wisconsin which ranks among the top 30 universities worldwide.

More than gaining expertise

The scholarship gives the students the freedom to choose the contents of their study: “I am looking forward to getting deeper into Gender and Women’s Studies, but I also want to take courses outside my field, such as Team Management and International Human Rights, for example,” explains Wester. However, she acknowledges that being a scholar is much more than about gaining expertise: “I believe that my time at the University of Wisconsin will truly shape me both as a student and as a person. I have lots of dreams for the future. The most important one for me is that I get to work with people. My simple wish is that people are able to enjoy their lives. And I will do my best to help to create a society in which everyone can live an enjoyable life.”

International understanding through personal relationships

The Brittingham Viking Organization (BVO) offers the opportunity for both University of Wisconsin students to study at one of the Nordic Universities and Nordic country students to study at the University of Wisconsin. Wester emphasizes ”The scholarship includes getting to know the previous scholars from both the Nordic countries and from the US, which I personally see as highly valuable.”

The scholarship program was started with the belief that international understanding can be best achieved by building personal relationships between people. Thus, excellent social skills and an open personality are at least as important for a successful applicant as high academic achievement. ”As a scholar I am representing Finland,” explains Wester. ”This is why I believe that it is extremely important that I spend a lot of time getting to know people. I will do my best to show that Finns are not cold and quiet but rather warm and fun.”

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Text: Claudia Gorr
Photo: Ari Aalto
University of Helsinki, digital communications

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