“I always dreamt of Lapland, meeting Santa Claus and seeing reindeer. My dreams came true.”

Marlena, Poland, Erasmus Exchange Student, Baltic Sea Region Studies

“I didn’t know what Finland would be like, but I was very positively surprised, especially when I met Finns. They are honest, hardworking and you can always rely on them.” Marlena, a history major from Poland, chose Finland because she loves winter and snow, and came to appreciate the people of Finland for their friendliness and trustworthiness. “I love Finns for being so helpful and welcoming. They really like foreigners.”

In Finland, Marlena studied Baltic Sea Region Studies. It was her first time studying abroad. “The Finnish education system is different, but I think it is the best.” Marlena particularly enjoyed the way Finnish universities organize their exams, since it gave her more time to concentrate on one exam at a time. “In Finland I had a lot of courses, but exams were organized at different times. In Poland we have examination sessions within two weeks and we have to pass all the exams for the whole semester.”

Marlena took some Finnish classes during her exchange. “I only studied the basics of Finnish, but it was really useful. I like the Finnish language; yes, sometimes it can be difficult, but so is Polish.” She also got to know Finnish culture through sauna and ice swimming. “I went to the sauna and I swam in the sea during winter. It was cold but wonderful!”

Like so many of her fellow exchange students, Marlena made lots of friends from other countries. “Usually I hung out with other exchange students, but I also have a few friends from Finland now.” Marlena lived in a dorm for exchange students, and she loved it. “I think it was the best place to live during an Erasmus exchange.”

A trip to Lapland was the highlight of her stay. She had dreamt of a visit there for a long time, to see Santa Claus and reindeer. “I also wanted to see the Northern Lights, but I didn’t. That gives me an excuse to go back!”