Iman is currently pursuing his Master's degree in Biomedical Engineering in Finland. He found this programme via StudyPortals and was accepted at the University of Oulu. His study has two tracks: Signal and Image Processing and Biomechanics and Imaging. We asked Iman about his experience of searching and applying to a university abroad.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your name? How old are you? Where are you from?
My name is Iman Alikhani and I am 24 years old. Originally I come from Iran and at the moment I live in Finland.
Where are/were you studying and what programme? What degree and how long is your programme?
I am studying M.Sc. Biomedical Engineering at the University of Oulu, Finland. I am in my second year of studies.
Why did you want to study abroad?
From a nutshell to experience independency, new culture, international community, research and build a brighter future.
Deciding for a university
What were your main priorities when choosing your university and your programme (e.g. academics, accommodation, university services & facilities, personal & professional development, city & culture, cost & funding, practicalities, social life)?
Affordable university in terms of tuition, cost of living, potential opportunities during or after study and how well-organized the university is.
Was this your first study choice? What other universities did you consider? What was the main reason of your final choice?
No, I had gotten admitted to several universities, including: University of Bremen (Germany), Politechnico di Milano, Politechnico di Torino, University of Bologna, University of Siena, Sapienza University of Roma (Italy) and Tampere University of Technology (Finland).
I accepted my study place here in Oulu because it was a non-tuition university for non-EU students at the time, and because there are opportunities to find student part-time jobs and also because Finland is a peaceful, well-organized and different country to experience
Did you know from the start that you wanted to study in that particular country and city? Why did you choose for this particular location?
No, I have applied to three countries and after thinking about it, I have decided on my final destination.
How did StudyPortals help you in your decision process?
I found all the programmes through StudyPortals. It is a very well-structured website that allows you to filter your options and find suitable desired study programmes across the world.
Did you take a language test (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS) when applying for the programme? If yes, which one did you choose, why and how was your experience with it?
I took IELTS for my application; nowadays it is a must for most of the universities and also visa applications. IELTS was a rewarding experience, although it is a little bit stressful. Nevertheless, it brings opportunities to you.
What would be your advice for students from your country that consider to study abroad?
Choose to have this experience, although it is a challenging and long procedure to get admitted into a rewarding university. You don’t live twice, so enjoy it and globalize yourself!
How did you finance your stay abroad and what financial advice would you give to future students?
At the beginning I was self-financed, but fortunately I found a part-time research opportunity in our department after ten months and now I study, carry out research and make money at the same time. However, it is hard to manage time, but it is my life and I like to keep it active. It is a lesson on how to improve your multi-tasking skills.
Why would you (not) recommend this particular city / university? How would you rate your experience on a scale from zero to ten (0 – It was a total disaster, 10 – I had the time of my life)?
I rate my choice with 8: I have everything I wanted at the beginning, but, of course, there are some drawbacks like the small city, long dark winters and a language hard to learn.
On the other hand, here it is completely safe, there is no hurry and calmness is on the face of everyone. I found a job matching my favorite research interest and I like my study modules.
Is there anything that you would do differently if you could do it over again?
I might have attempted to go to a larger city, maybe I would prefer e.g. Aalto University in Helsinki. Apart from that, I would do it all the same.
What was the biggest surprise in your study abroad adventure?
Don’t pre-judge people and always judge them based solely on their actions, no matter where they come from, what religion they practice or what race they are.