At the beginning it felt more like a joke to choose Alaska. But the more I thought about it, the more certain I was that it could be a great and unique experience.
The course selection was hard, because UAF offered so many options. In Finland I study law and business at Tampere University. Because of that, I took a course in justice and some paralegal studies. I also took an English course and beginner level courses in ice hockey and tennis. I wanted to also have time outside the hard studying to get to know new people and culture.
The justice course deals with the American justice system, culture of penalty and criminology. The paralegal courses improved my legal writing skills and helped me to learn the system of common law. I also got a great chance to get to know Alaska's local court organization and different rules. I was really satisfied with my course selection. They were also an excellent chance to develop my English skills, because the group sizes were small. There were only four students in two of my classes, and that's why teachers had time to give personal feedback, which was very useful.
All in all, it was interesting to see an American university and the studying culture. Teachers gave more homework than in Finland, and compulsory attendance at classes resembled Finnish high school. However, the most memorable experience was to live in a dorm on campus. Everything was so close and you could meet your friends in your floor kitchen or bathroom or University’s food center or pub or recreation center… It is like one big home and family. People in Alaska are very friendly, so it was easy to meet new people and hang out with them.
I fell in love with Alaska's winter sports. One of the best free time experiences were to go on snowmobile trips. One sunny Saturday day we drove about 140 kilometers. There was a lot of beautiful white snow. I also liked to watch the University’s ice-hockey team - the Nanooks - play with my friends. Every game was big event, and tickets were free for students. Students can also use Skiland's lift for free if they want to go downhill skiing which is awesome.
After the exchange, I can say that I miss the most beautiful nature and people of Alaska. The exchange time was really rewarding, and I learned a lot of things about my own country and myself. As northern states, Alaska and Finland have many similarities but also differences. I am sure that this knowledge will be useful for me in the future. In addition, I would like to continue to play ice hockey also in Finland!