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Student Stories - Max and Toni, two true nature lovers

Toni
Hi Toni and Max, how is life going?

Toni: Pretty well considering we are baking cookies at the moment
Max: It is getting dark and depressing though. But we are trying to keep busy…

So tell me again what you study and how you ended up in Finland?

Max: We study biology of physical activity at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences.
Toni: Yes, we major in biomechanics. But hmm how I ended up in Finland, I would say it is a mixture between my love for nature and my bachelor’s thesis supervisor. He knew
about the programme and recommended it to me.

So I feel like it must be quite nice to study in Jyväskylä where you have nature everywhere you go?

Toni: Um yes absolutely, although I haven't been able to explore it that much yet. After all this is my first year in the north and I have been quite busy with the studies. If I had more time I would for sure spend it outside, but I think being busy studying was actually a good thing. Just what I was looking for – another academic challenge.

What was your first impression of the city?

Max
Max: I came to Jyväskylä the first time in my bachelors for a study abroad class during May and I thought it was a beautiful and really cute city when I first got here. The people were quite friendly and helpful to tourists and international students and I remember going for a run around the lake and knew I would be happy coming back and studying here. Also I saw Laajis and the terrain park when I was first here and that was a pretty sweet bonus as well as a freestyle skier
Toni: It was the end of August when I arrived so the days were pretty much already normal. There were many trees and lakes wherever I looked. But in general, I think Finland is not the country that you fall in love in the first moment when you come here. In my case is, the more I get to know it, the more sides I see.

You feel like now that you have stayed here for a longer time you have grown to like it?

Toni: Yea, I think so. But then again I was also pretty nervous before coming here, so that blurred my picture a little bit. I am really excited about the winter and that made autumn not as bad as people told me it was going to be.

So November wasn’t that depressing?

Toni: Actually not, the excitement for winter wonderland always overruled it. I really want to go ice skating on the lake and I would love to do actual longer hike with skis for a week – just going around and sleeping in the huts. I have not planned any trips yet but we will see what the cold weather brings. Also husky safari is on my bucket list…
Max in baking action
Max: I’ve been trying to spend time hanging out with friends like doing movie nights and stuff. Also been trying to call friends and family back home to try to get through the depressing days. Also staying active and getting outside I think is really important to feel accomplished on a day to day basis. Even if the weather is really shitty and depressing you feel good if you went to the gym that day and had a good workout…

Yes, I think that keeping yourself busy is one of the best ways to forget about the darker days and rainy weather. Toni, you have travelled a lot and been in other countries. How do you feel like Finland is different from other countries?

Toni: Many things seem to take part inside here and it takes some time to get to know everyone and find your way. It is quite different to other countries. Actually, a lot of times I feel like Finland is so much more down to earth than other places. Sometimes when you travel, people are overly friendly and then it turns out to be superficial. But here in Finland, you don’t get that - actually it can feel weird in the first moment when you get here (if you have travelled a lot). It is funny, in my travel book the quote they chose for Finland said: if you smile at someone and they don't smile back, smile even more because the person who isn't able to return a smile is in most desperate need of one – and I think it is a little bit like that. This is one of the biggest differences comparing to other countries. That people kind of mind their own business and they might not be overly friendly at the start, but once you get to know them they show you their true self – in most cases that is not superficial and they usually really care.

What about you Max?

Max: Well I haven't lived in any other countries than USA and comparing to that is quite different. It is pretty interesting to live in a place where people don’t speak your language. It’s pretty cool, I feel like it is very exotic.

Do you have favourite places here?

Toni: I do really like Laajavuori. It was especially nice during the autumn with leaves of different colours. One time, I went running with my friend and it was so pretty. You are basically living in the city but after running for 5 minutes you are already in the forest. Oh yes, and I also tried typical finnish “Frisbee-golfing”.

How was that?

Toni: I think the word trying describes it really well. Max, you also like Laajavuori right?
Max: Yea, I am basically sure that Laajavuori will become my favourite place because of skiing. I haven’t spent that much time here and explored all the places. I like it around the lakes a lot, especially Jyväsjärvi. In the summer it was nice because it was green and bright but also during the autumn it was amazing because trees exchanged colours.

So besides going around the lake and playing frisbee golf, what else do you do in your free time? 

Toni doing some cookie design
Toni: Movie nights – a lot of them. Also running and visiting my friendship family. If you are a person who is quite close to your family then I think this Friendship Family programme that is offered by University is really nice thing. I miss the concept of family a lot and whenever we meet with my finnish family, I feel so relaxed because I don’t have to worry about my studies and I can distance myself from the student life. Getting out of your student bubble and being surrounded by normal family problems actually feels pretty nice.

Max, do you have a friendship family here?

Max: No I don't have friendship family here, but speaking of, my family is visiting me in Finland for Christmas. We will visit Lapland and stay in an ice hotel there. Hopefully we will be lucky with the weather and can catch some northern lights. We are also visiting The Santa Clause village and plan to do a husky safari.

That sounds like a perfect winter holiday. But when you come back from Christmas, you have more classes right? Do you like University of Jyväskylä in general?

Toni: I feel like the university cares so much for their students. Student union is amazing and how much they care about students works really well. I haven't had that in my previous university in Germany. They put so much emphasis on student well-being here . Overall I am happy with my choice.
Max: Yes and the benefits of being a student are amazing here in Finland. University restaurants for example, they provide cheap and diverse meals for students everyday. Also going to the gym for free and living in the student accommodation are a big advantages.

How do you think your experience here has changed you so far?

cookies :)
Toni: I feel like it actually has changed me a little. It made me more motivated again. I feel like I am getting more connected to my field of studying. It is nice because I can focus on the things I find most interesting and explore that topic. I feel like I lost that at some point during my bachelor studies. Here you have so many opportunities where you can choose whatever you want to focus on. I feel like our programme encourages you to focus on your own development and not that much on the grades. That makes it even more motivated and I always feel good because in the end I do it for myself and not just to get the degree certificate.
Max: I am just riding this train and see where it goes. If I compare living in Finland and studying here, compared to my previous studies, it is that it has help me build my independence. I think the university system puts a lot of responsibility to you. Sometimes, this can be hard because you have to push yourself really hard, but it also helps you to recognize what you are actually interested in. And it feels pretty amazing when you enjoy what you are exploring.

Thank you for your time both, and now let's bake some cookies!

Tjaša Ocvirk

Student Stories - Max and Toni, two true nature lovers Student Stories - Max and Toni, two true nature lovers Reviewed by ambassadors on 22:58 Rating: 5

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