Experiencing Finland and Finnish teacher education for the first time

Anu and Nalini Ph.D. students from India at Jamk

Anu Verma and Nalini Patel came to Jamk School of Professional Teacher Education for two months as Ph.D. student research interns funded by the Erasmus Plus project, EDUREFORM, from India. Since then, they have been working and living in Jyväskylä, Finland. What inspired Anu and Nalini to come? What have they experienced and learned during their stay?

Two Ph.D. students from India working at the School of Professional Teacher Education for two months

Anu Verma, already holding a Doctoral Degree in Public Administration, is pursuing her second doctoral thesis (Ph.D.) in Education at the Chitkara University, Punjab, which is located in Northern India, 250 km from New Delhi. The topic of her research is related to the mental well-being of teacher educators from higher education institutions.

Being passionate in teaching and research, Anu is an active researcher. She has written more than 25 published research papers and presented in many international conferences, symposiums, seminars and a few in national conferences and seminars.

She has been teaching for the past 22 years, with a progressive journey from school to college to university level, and for more than 11 years she has worked in higher education institutions. At present, she is working as an Assistant Professor at Chitkara University.

“I always wanted to do something big for the teacher community and the education sector as well. With research and teaching as my pillars and passion, I always looked forward for the best opportunity available on the track with many other professional and personal commitments”, she says.

Nalini Patel is a Ph.D. student, too, but from Savitribai Phule Pune University’s Department of Education & Extension. The university is located in Western India, 150 km from Mumbai. The title of her Ph.D. thesis is “Schedule Tribes in Dadra and Nagar Haveli; Challenges in Higher Education”.

Why is Finland the happiest country? How is the education funded?

The two ladies did not know each other, Jamk, or anyone from Finland in advance. But they shared two common interests that they wanted to discover more about: what is this country like, which has been nominated as the happiest country in the world, and how is the free education funded. Of course, they were both eager to get to know the Finnish teacher education system and explore ideas for their Ph.D. research articles.

“I am aware, that Finland for the last 5 years, has been ranked the 1st in happiness. I wanted to explore, what makes people happy. I have also heard about the free education here in Finland. Many questions were in my mind”, Anu tells.

“When, I entered Finland, I realized, that the population in Finland is quite low, and I wondered, how the education funds are managed. Is it free for European countries or for non-Europeans as well? What is different here in terms of education, research?”, she continues.

Surprises in Jyväskylä and in Finland – a lifetime experience

For Nalini, travelling to Finland was her first trip to any foreign country. “Travelling to Finland is a life changing experience for me which I am going to cherish all my life, as this is my first learning trip to any foreign country. For the first time I have boarded the flight all alone”, she explains. She comes from a small village called Nagar Haveli in the Union Territory of Dadra.

“I have always observed Finland in the world map, but now I am here. The weather here is so surprising for me, because the place where I come from is much warmer. I saw snowfall on the day when I arrived to Jyväskylä. On one of the weekends, we had an amazing walk on the Jyväskylä Lake”, she tells and continues: “I had never imagined that I will be going to any foreign country, but my dream came true.”

“I was surprised, that education in Finland is free for the students of Finland, and they are provided food with subsidized rates. In 15 days in Finland, I have learnt many things related to research and technology but looking forward to exploring more”, she continues.

Nalini says that she would like to focus more on the teaching and learning process of Finland, the methodologies implemented and to take with her “the sense of happiness around the place”. “The working culture here in the institutions is good, which I would like to adopt”, she points out.

A challenge for the new version of me with new experiences and knowledge

Anu says that she has been an introverted person: “In the beginning, every step of the journey from applying to travelling to Finland, appeared as a challenge, but I accepted it as a gateway to be a new version of myself.”

“Yes. Definitely, my stay in Finland is, and will be fruitful, for sure. Everyday, is a great learning experience, although it is a short stay of two months, February – May 2023. But at the end of the period, the outcome will be something better, something innovative for me. Focus areas are the lifestyle, the administrative set-up, education sector and research areas, food, nature, value system etc. all are influential and will be reflected in my future actions directly or indirectly on the professional and personal front. Now, I am more open to new opportunities and challenges ahead”, she states and comments on how grateful she is for the support and motivation from her parents, husband and sons, and the professional front.

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

EDUREFORM is a co-funded project with the EU’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). It was planned to run from 2019 to 2022 but due to the Covid-19 pandemic will now run until 2023. Read more at jamk.fi.

Text & Image:

Leena Suomi
Marketing Designer
Professional School of Teacher Education
Jamk University of Applied Sciences