Aalto University, Finland: Study Experience of Judit

Judit pursued her Master’s degree in Photography at the Aalto University. She found the programme via Studyportals. We asked Judit about her 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 Judit Flóra Schuller and I am 24 years old now. I was born in Budapest, Hungary.

Where are/were you studying and what programme? What degree and how long is your programme?

I am doing my Master degree in Photography at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki, Finland. This Master programme is two years long basically, but in case of doing an exchange semester or a minor, it can be longer.

Why did you want to study abroad?

Currently, in Hungary, there is only one university where you can obtain a Master level degree in Photography, so the possibilities are quite limited.

Moreover, I think that it is essential for art students to broaden their range of interests and get inspired by a different artistic milieu and meet new experts and teachers in their field.

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)?

My principal priority was the university itself. Aalto’s Photography department has a good reputation and a great name list of artists who graduated from the school and whose works I really like. Besides the university, I have always been interested in the Nordic countries, especially in their culture and nature.

Was this your first study choice? What other universities did you consider? What was the main reason for your final choice?

Yes, Aalto was my first choice, and I mainly concentrated on Aalto’s entrance exam. I also applied for admission to other art universities in The Netherlands.

Did you know from the start that you wanted to study in that particular country and city? Why did you choose this particular location?

As I mentioned before, my main priority was the university itself. However, I think that the cultural and historical background such as the nature of a country deeply affect the artists who live and work there. Finland’s natural features are really captivating.

Did you find your study programme on Studyportals? How did Studyportals help you in your decision process?

I had heard about Aalto before I started to use the Studyportals website, but the portal was really useful to find other programmes and compare them.

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?

Yes, I took the IELTS language test before the application. For the most part I was satisfied with it. However I often felt that the test is not interested primarily in your knowledge but in the capability to solve certain types of exercises – which is merely the question of practising and not about real knowledge.

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What would be your advice for students from your country that consider studying abroad?

In my belief, the most important thing is to take the first steps and start doing the application procedure. It is also necessary to be brave to go abroad and start a new life. Sometimes people tend to think and worry too much in advance and miss great opportunities.

How did you finance your stay abroad and what financial advice would you give to future students?

Since the education is free in Finland, they cannot offer additional help for foreign students. Last year I saved some money but I still need the help of family. I am also planning to find a part time job in Helsinki.

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 would highly recommend both Aalto University and Helsinki to others. If I had to rate my experiences I would say it is 9.

Even though I am coming from another European country, it took me some time to accommodate myself to a new country, but my overall experiences are absolutely positive.

Is there anything that you would do differently if you could do it over again?

No, there is not any.

What was the biggest surprise in your study abroad adventure?

I am still at the beginning of my studies here, but so far one of the biggest surprise or positive aspect is that everybody is really helpful and basically things work well. I can feel some kind of mutual respect even in the everyday life in Helsinki and in the professional, artistic circles as well.

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