Studying in Finland was a good decision

30.10.2023 | Career stories

Ilya Lebedev had never thought he would study abroad. A study trip to Rovaniemi in his school days, along with his childhood friend heading to the Lapland University of Applied Sciences, changed the mind of the young man raised in Murmansk, Russia. Lebedev, who graduated with a BBA in the spring, has now decided to stay in Finland. 

“Watching the northern lights was the most exciting and simultaneously the coldest experience I had as a travel guide”, Ilya Lebedev describes the practical training period of his studies.

Lebedev, an International Business graduate from the Lapland University of Applied Sciences, completed his work practice in two different workplaces. The first of these was found through his own network.

“A friend of mine worked at a travel company. I contacted the company owner directly and asked if they had any work for me.”

Lebedev got the job and worked as a travel guide for four months. At the small company, he was also able to dabble in marketing work and update the website. At the second training place, he spent six months working in Lapland travel sales.

Through the training experience, he realised sales suited him better than travel guide work.

Inspired to study in Finland by study trip and friend

Lebedev began his studies in Rovaniemi in September 2020, with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions already in effect. Even entering Finland was difficult at the time, but Lebedev wanted to complete his studies on site.

 “I studied exclusively online for nearly two years. In addition, I took exams and courses that required attendance.”

Lebedev had heard plenty about the quality of Finnish education beforehand, which gave him high expectations for the quality of his studies. He was especially interested in the practical focus of the studies, which seemed important for transitioning into working life. For a student coming from abroad, a study environment that felt natural to adapt to was also essential.

“I also expected no one would pressure students and that they would be free to do the things they wanted.”

Now, Lebedev believes studying in Finland was a good decision. The studies improved skills and knowledge that help one manage in the rapidly changing world. Plenty of study material could be found online, and various projects for students were organised with students from partner universities.

However, for Lebedev, ending up in Rovaniemi was the result of a series of coincidences.

“When I was young, I never thought I would study abroad. During my school days in Murmansk, my school took a study trip to Finland, and we spent a week at a Rovaniemi school. I learned about the Finnish way of life and thought studying in Rovaniemi might be a good idea.”

Then, a friend from Murmansk went to study in Rovaniemi and shared their experiences.

“I had visited places like Rovaniemi and Ivalo with my family. However, visiting someplace as a tourist is almost like a different country compared to living in that place. When I moved to Finland, I saw Rovaniemi in a completely different light than before. As a tourist, I felt Rovaniemi was a small town that failed to leave much of an impression. After living there for a few years and learning the local way of life, the city started to feel homey and cosy.”

“The nature here is also delightful and unique. It takes a while before you start to appreciate it – and Lapland happiness”, Lebedev says.

Planning a degree in IT to complement business skills 

Last spring, Lebedev finished his thesis on the development of online sales in the travel industry. He lives in Rovaniemi, has decided to stay in Finland and has begun studying Finnish.

“I like Finland and Finns a lot.”

Lebedev plans on working for a few years to gain experience. Afterwards, he plans to study IT, which he finds particularly attractive due to the large number of jobs in the IT field. Lebedev reckons a Business Administration degree and an IT degree might be an attractive combination on the job market.

How, then, would Lebedev help ease international students to life in Finland?

“During my studies, I was a tutor for international students – a travel guide to the Finnish way of life. For example, some Spanish students had never seen snow. They sometimes had to put on two pairs of socks to stay warm. Familiarisation to the country’s customs would be an important addition to international student orientation. For example, many international students may not understand why you cannot wear a swimsuit to the sauna.”

One source of amazement for Ilya himself was winter bicycling.

“In Murmansk, nobody rides a bicycle in the winter. Over there, winter biking sounds like a bad idea.”

Despite this, the Finnish custom caught on, and now Lebedev does not mind jumping on a bicycle even in the winter.

Text: Sanna Leskinen, Graphics: Elina Tuomi, English translation: Marko Saajanaho

The article was originally released in Tradenomi Magazine 3/2023.

Lisää aiheesta: Career stories

Elizabeth Harjunpää set up a Help Center for Ukrainians in Helsinki

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Elizabeth knew she just had to take action. She set up a help center for Ukrainians in Helsinki.

Lue lisää

Tradenomiliitto on nyt Tradenomit!

Lue lisää