What’s it Like to Study in Finland? Three Interviews

From courses in clowning and tango, to the use of a pass/fail credit system as opposed to grades, my experience at Sibelius has definitely been different than at U of T! In case you are looking for a more in-depth perspective of what studying in Finland is like, I interviewed three classmates about their experience. Sanni is a music education student from Finland, Rocio is an exchange student from Spain studying classical voice, and Lambis is a international classical piano student from Cyprus.
A young woman wearing a grey sweater and purple lanyard is seated in a classroom.
A young woman in a black blouse and sweater smiles, against a blue background
A young man in a navy sweater sits in a classroom, with two pianos in the background
Why did you decide to study at Sibelius Academy? Sanni: I read about Sibelius online while working in a Kindergarten. I already had a bachelor's degree in Social Services. The school provides a high quality education in music pedagogy. I like that there are a mix of young and mature students. Rocio: My friend went on exchange to Sibelius the previous year, and thought it was amazing. I like that they offer classes in a variety of genres, including Afro-Cuban music and Jazz. Lambis: I originally came to study French horn with a teacher I really liked. Piano was my secondary instrument, but after two years I switched my major. What is one thing you love about studying in Finland? Sanni: In Finland we value students! Students are entitled to discounts and benefits, including 500 euros per month from the government. Because of this support, most students don't have to work, and can concentrate on studying. Rocio: I love the cold weather--in Spain it's too hot! The people are very nice, and patient with me when I have difficulty speaking English. Lambis: I like that I am not excluded from opportunities just because I don't speak Finnish, since the school offers instruction in English. I also have the freedom to create my own curriculum, with many courses to choose from, and many performance opportunities. What is one challenge you have faced as a student in Finland? Sanni: The drawback of the student benefits is they only apply if your income is below a certain threshold, so it restricts the amount of work students can do. Rocio: Finland is expensive, and international students are not entitled to the subsidies that Finnish students receive. I had to start working to afford the cost of living. Fortunately, as an EU citizen, I am eligible to work here! Lambis: I have sometimes found it difficult to make connections with Finnish students, partly because of the language barrier, and partially because they tend to be more reserved. This is just a cultural difference, though! What is your advice to someone who is applying to Sibelius? Sanni: Don't work too hard! Stay open-minded, and get involved in events in your department, at the school, and in the city. Rocio: Take advantage of experiences, and put your best foot forward. Reach out to people so that you have a support system. And be yourself! Lambis: Come and visit to see if you like it! And make sure you can handle the weather!          

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