I study at University of Turku, Finland, and went on an exchange to North-Eastern Federal University in Russia.

I grew up in southwestern Finland, at the 60th parallel north latitude, and it was interesting to see some of the similarities and the many differences of life in Yakutia and Finland. Studying in cold and remote Yakutsk is not for everyone. But it can be an amazing experience for those who enjoy something challenging, different and interesting.

I was privileged and grateful to experience Sakha Republic through university context. Other students and the employees of the International Relations Office are very friendly, and I felt very welcome from the first day. Exchange students are treated as individuals, and Russian language is taught in small groups. The dormitory is well-equipped and comfortable. I couldn’t experience this without the exchange program north2north.

Obviously, if you know Russian language already, you will have much better chances at getting to know the people and the culture. I admit that I was still very dependent on the safety net of the university. Getting through the day with the language barrier was a humbling and healthy experience. But there were other students like me, who went there to learn Russian and start from the beginning. Yakutsk is a good place for that. Maybe not the best place, since you hear a lot of Yakut language too, but for me, that just made it more interesting.

It keeps surprising me how much exchange programs can teach you. In the best case scenario, the semester is not only about taking language lessons but also life lessons. A good investment, I believe.