Stories Chang

“The living environment is safe”

Chang, China, Master’s Degree Programme, Telecommunication

The CSSA stands for the Chinese Scholars and Students Association of the city of Espoo. Espoo lies west of Helsinki and is part of the metropolitan area of the Finnish capitol. When the CSSA started its activities at the Helsinki University of Technology (now Aalto University School of Science and Technology) in 1998, only a few Chinese students had studied at Finnish universities. During the last ten years the number of degree students coming from China to Finland has steadily increased. At the moment about 1600 Chinese degree students are registered in the country. The CSSA is growing as well and getting more and more members, not only from Espoo but the whole of Finland.

Chang is the chairperson of the association. He has been living in Finland for five years and studying telecommunication. “With the CSSA we want to build bridges between the Chinese community and the Finnish society. And we are trying to give the Chinese students and scholars a chance to meet each other, to communicate and maintain our culture”, he says.

Chang admits that building relationships between Finns and internationals has not always been easy. “It is hard to break the groups”, he says. “But we arrange several events for Chinese and Finns alike, e.g. badminton or football matches. And we are trying to help Finns experience the Chinese culture. For example, we celebrate the Chinese Spring Festival in Helsinki.”

Furthermore, Chang and other CSSA members give advice to the Chinese who are willing to study abroad. “Students who consider Finland as a place to study can contact our organization already from China. They can get all basic information about the country, their intended studies and the enrollment process.”

Due to his own experience, he knows the answers to the questions young Chinese and their parents are raising about Finland. Chang points out that the requests mainly concern the quality of education, the costs of studying and the living environment. He is clear in his mind about these issues: “The Finnish universities are competitive with first class institutions around the globe, but in Finland no tuition fees are charged”, he says. “The living environment is safe. You have to fear neither crime nor discrimination. Especially the students’ parents want to know about that.”

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