Thanh Dao-Cong and Melina Vuorinen recently begun their studies in the Bachelor’s Programme in Science at the University of Helsinki. They both enjoy the international atmosphere and want to learn about the different disciplines of science. Dao-Cong wishes to pursue physics while Vuorinen is interested in using chemistry in the humanitarian field.
Who is the Bachelor’s Programme in Science for?
Thanh Dao-Cong: “The spectrum of people who can benefit from the programme is broad. I’m interested in research and find it suitable for somebody like me. But it’s also for anyone who is not yet that certain of their field of interest as the programme offers opportunities to try out different fields of science. Only after six months in the programme, we choose one of the four study tracks to specialise in. They are chemistry, computer and data science, mathematics and physics. However, also after specialising we can still take courses from other study tracks and get an interdisciplinary education in science.”
Melina Vuorinen: “The programme provides a broad view of science. There is something for everyone even if you don’t know yet exactly what you want to do. It is enough to have a general interest in science and a fairly good knowledge of English. It helps if you can already read texts in English without problems, but the field-specific vocabulary you will learn through your studies. So if you are interested in working or continuing your studies in science in an international setting, the programme is a good way to learn both science and English.”
What is it like to study in the Bachelor’s Programme in Science?
Dao-Cong: “We are just getting started, so we’ve had mainly lectures. Soon some lab courses will start as well. So far, one of the most interesting courses has been the ‘Introduction to Modern Science’. It gives an overview of the different disciplines in science that are offered by the University of Helsinki.
We have also been explained about the different master’s degree options. After completing our Bachelor’s degree, we have the possibility to apply to 9 different Master’s programmes at the University of Helsinki. All except one are taught in English! I’m very happy about the number of options accessible for international students like me. I also love the fact that as students we get right away important information about the programme and the options it gives us in the future.”
Vuorinen: ”I’m happy with the amount of time I’ve got to spend with my fellow students. We are a tight-knit group and spend a lot of time together. Everybody is very motivated and super nice! I also like the fact that there are people from so many different countries. There is a lot of independent studying, so we have been keeping study groups. This is a fun way to study and hang out after classes.”
Do you already know which of the four study tracks you are going to specialise in?
Vuorinen: “In the future, I’d like to do something that feels meaningful. I’m interested in working as a chemist in the humanitarian field, for example, in countries which lack clean water. So most likely, I will choose chemistry but I’d also like to include some other disciplines in my degree. I am considering a minor at the Faculty of Social Sciences because it would provide me with a deeper understanding of the field.”
Dao-Cong: “I’m going to select physics because I’m very passionate about it. In the future, I would like to work as a researcher in the field. However, I also want to get an overall picture of the other disciplines. If you work as a researcher, it is important to have an understanding also of, for example, mathematics and data science.
At the moment, I’m interested in continuing my studies in the Master’s Programme in Theoretical and Computational Methods because it also allows tailoring your degree to incorporate different disciplines. However, I will keep an open mind as there are so many opportunities.”
What is it like to study and live in Helsinki?
Vuorinen: “Studying is very free and independent. You choose yourself what you want to specialise in. Usually, there is no mandatory attendance. It gives you the freedom to assess yourself what is best for your learning. It’s sometimes scary, but also very beneficial! I usually learn by trying out things myself, so sometimes I skip a lecture and instead study by myself at the library. On my free time, I go running with my flatmate. I’ve moved to Helsinki only recently, so I’m still getting used to my surroundings. There is a lot of nature in Helsinki, which makes it a nice city to spend time outdoors.”
Dao-Cong: “I have lived in Finland for some years already and I have learnt that Finland offers a lot of opportunities. The society is structured in a way that gives everyone a chance. I also think that the services for people not speaking Finnish as a native language are becoming more flexible. I love the fact that even though I don’t speak fluent Finnish, I can get a bachelor’s level education in science.”
“The student culture at the University of Helsinki is very vibrant. Many events are organised for first-year students. There are, for example, dinner parties and an Amazing Race style event called the Fresher Adventure. When I’m not studying, I work as a tennis coach. It means my free time is limited so I haven’t attended many events. However, it is nice to study at the University of Helsinki even though you, like me, would be a person who is not too keen on going out. The university has a wonderful atmosphere.”