Student experiences

Find out what our students would like to share with you about their studies and life in Helsinki, their career paths or plans, insights into the programme, studying in Helsinki, tips for your application process and much more.

I remember the first day in the ICE programme like it was yesterday. It was a sunny and warm day in late August, my new study colleagues and I had the possibility to get to know each other while preparing lunch and enjoying the sun at the ICE introduction day on a small island somewhere in Sipoo. There were nine people from eight different countries and only three of us were EU citizens. Seeing the diversity of our group, I remember thinking: “I’ve made the right choice”.

I had decided to study Intercultural Encounters at the University of Helsinki for two main reasons. First, I supported University of Helsinki’s approach to offer education even to those who otherwise could not afford it. The second reason was programme’s strong focus on working life in comparison with other academic MA programmes. This focus has helped me build networks outside of the University, and has ultimately lead to my first job at Moniheli ry – a network of multicultural associations.

Combining career advice with the possibility of doing an internship in exchange for study credits is what makes this programme so relevant for all those who love the academia but do not necessarily want to pursue a career in research. This doesn’t mean that the programme wouldn’t encourage students on their academic quest. ICE offers a range of great online-based courses that allow students to pursue the degree while doing their full-time internship. We have independence and freedom to design our degree, which gives us the possibility to follow our own interests and enabled me to take PhD level courses to expand on my knowledge.

ICE has definitely helped me to grow personally, professionally and academically by allowing me to follow my interests, take classes from different departments, programmes and faculties, and by broadening my perspectives through interacting with a diverse group of people from all around the world.

When finishing my bachelors, I applied to twelve master degree programs at ten universities across the globe. But from the very beginning, my top priority was the Intercultural Encounters program at the University of Helsinki. When I received the acceptance letter, I was not even waiting for the rest of the admission results to come as I initiated the enrollment process.

It was one of a few sunny days in Helsinki when I met my group and teaching staff for the first time. We made up a truly multicultural group having eight people from seven countries around the world. The overall group level was so high and the range of expertise so wide that it was easy to confuse my groupmates with professors.  

Studying at Intercultural Encounters program differs much from what I experienced before. There is a lot of freedom in each aspect of student life. Here, I am in complete control over my study curriculum. I have the possibility to adjust the program to my specific interests by selecting from the wide range of courses offered every study period. The classes are very inclusive where every student is getting involved and is willing to contribute to discussions and share personal ideas. The lecturers encourage independent thought, and I was always supported whichever direction I wanted to go in my research.  

I can say that I have definitely gained a lot during my studies at the Intercultural Encounters program. I have become more self-conscious and I have deepened my understanding of the world. I found the area of my academic interest and I am considering continuing studies as a Ph.D. student.  However, the competence gained goes far beyond classrooms and academic texts. The program has a strong focus on the professional integration and we are well equipped with knowledge and experience to find our place in the contemporary labor market.