The University specializes in environmental studies, which is my minor, and I wanted to do my minor abroad. I did listen to my family a bit in the exchange process and decided to stay only for one semester, which was the spring semester of 2016.

For me the application process was quick. I have a habit of thinking about my decisions until the last minute, because I want to make sure that I make the right decision. I did the first part of the application process in under a week. I got my recommendations, did my motivation letter, planned my studies and then applied. After that, it was just waiting. The University of Lapland offers north2north exchanges, so my coordinator put me in that category. Finally, I got the approval. Then I started to do a few more applications before my exchange.

The first big decision I made about my exchange was the housing. I arranged it already when I was in Finland. I rented a room from a Canadian boy who had a house. There was also one other Canadian living and renting a room. On December 28, 2015, I flew to Canada. With a bit of luck I traveled in business premium class with all the comforts you can imagine. It was my first long flight – great start to the exchange semester!

I arrived in Prince George the same day I left Finland, thanks to the ten-hour time difference. One of my roommates was at the airport waiting for me. I remember clearly when we arrived to the house and she said, “Well, Ida, this is home.” Ever since then, it felt like home. Overall, I had four roommates: three Canadians and a dog.

Ida Vahtera 1

One week later, I started the university. UNBC is a beautiful university in my opinion. It is open and light inside, made of wood but still very modern. It is a green university, and you can see that easily because there are recycling bins everywhere. The international office was welcoming, all of the staff were very helpful especially when I had problems with the courses at the beginning. Most of the courses I chose in my learning agreement were not running in springtime, so I needed to choose something else. I took three courses during my exchange, and I also I did my bachelor’s thesis.

My courses were interesting. In one course, I was the only exchange student. During the whole semester, we only needed to buy three books, and I brought them all back to Finland with me because I found them so interesting and eye opening. The courses at UNBC were more intense than in Finland. Essays every week, exams and group works. The three courses lasted the whole semester.

What I remember about Canada is most of all the people, the feelings I had, and the nature. In my opinion, Canadians are very nature loving and like to hang out in nature. Even more than Finns, I would say! I went hiking, to national parks, saw old forests, and smiled a lot. Most importantly, I made lifelong friends. The squad never breaks.

Ida Vahtera 3


Published in 2017.