Integration and academic story. A path of an international student in Finland by Aleksandr Dzharatov.

Moving to a new country has never been an easy step to take, especially when you are a fresh high school graduate, who just turned 18 years old.

It is exactly how my journey in Finland has started. My name is Aleksandr Dzharatov, I’m originally from Turkmenistan, from the city called Ashgabat. During my graduation year at high school I applied to JAMK University of Applied Sciences to continue my studies there. As a teenager, I was passionate about entrepreneurship and business administration, so the choice of the program was easy – International Business (further IB). I was delighted when I received a letter of acceptance from JAMK, I felt that something big is about to happen, it will be a huge move and completely new chapter in life.

During my first year in Jyväskylä

After receiving my high school diploma, I had to go through 2 months of paperwork and waiting in order to move to Finland. Finally, after receiving my residence permit, I arrived at Jyväskylä 1 week before the start of the orientation week. I moved alone and didn’t know even single person in Finland, so it was a challenging time. However, I have to say that I didn’t suffer much, I was excited about this move and approached situation with a positive mindset. I met many people during the orientation week and received a lot of support and assistance from teachers and IB coordinators. I am extremely grateful for this to JAMK community, it made integration process much easier. Talking about integration and settling down in a new country, initially I experienced certain cultural shock because of the drastic differences in culture, language and climate. I have grown up in a hot climate of Central Asia, and it wasn’t easy to handle my first Finnish winter with its freezing temperatures and lots of snow. To deal with this, I tried my best to maintain work-life balance. I put my main focus on studies, but also didn’t forget to have other free time activities, and to spend quality time with myself and close friends. 

My study journey:

I enjoyed my first year in IB, I studied numerous business disciplines and participated in several projects, like Innovation Week, Invent for the Planet, Team & Client (in collaboration with Business Jyväskylä and University of Jyväskylä). Right priorities and focus on studies gave notable results, in the end of the first academic year I earned even more credits than needed and started well-deserved summer holidays. 

Second year in IB was slightly more challenging. After studying fundamentals of business, we proceeded to academic track and specialization. As my track, I have chosen “Economics of Internationalization and Competitiveness” taught by Mr. Murat Akpinar and haven’t regret my choice at all. My learning outcomes from the academic track include, but are not limited to, the following: analyzing competitiveness of international markets, researching various clusters, understanding the concept of competitiveness on the firm and national level. These learnings have served as a basis for the track project and my Bachelor’s Thesis. 

After completing academic track and other courses of the second year, I focused on writing thesis. The topic wasn’t directly related to business field, however it corresponded to the learning outcomes of the track and in general aroused my interest. I wrote my thesis about “Competitiveness level of higher education system in Finland in comparison to the United States’’. As many fellow students may relate, thesis writing process is not easy at all. In total it took me 10 months to finalize my thesis, it was indeed one of the most challenging parts of the degree. However, after going through this challenge, I have to admit that it was worth it, as I have developed many academic skills, such as data analysis, research, academic writing. 

I planned my degree structure in such way, that I wouldn’t leave the country for a continuous period. Thus, I wanted to go for a short-term exchange, and one of the options for me was a summer school abroad. I applied to summer school in Slovenia, Ljubljana (University of Ljubljana, School of Economics and Business). Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, delivery mode was changed to online, and I completed my exchange in my room at the desktop. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for this opportunity as I got a chance to study in a different educational institution, experience other teaching methods and course implementation. In the University of Ljubljana I studied “Business Plan Development” and “Lean Start-ups”. 

During the same summer, I completed also my practical training. From the second year of studies I started working part-time in a local restaurant called Fafa’s. I decided to complete practical training for my studies there, because it was already familiar environment to me, and employer kindly provided this opportunity. Mainly I was involved in supply chain management and marketing. I followed the restaurant stock and inventory, participated in the procurement, updated seasonal campaigns and offers. It was indeed a useful hand-on experience for me with versatile tasks and supportive team. 

On the graduation day.

I dedicated my last semester to finalize and submit thesis, and also complete few more courses in order to earn sufficient amount of credits for graduation. I have graduated in December 2020, it took me 2,5 years in total, which is quite fast for a Bachelor’s degree. During the following 6 months after graduation I have focused on job-seeking, I applied for the positions related to business administration in Central Finland and few biggest Finnish cities, like Helsinki, Tampere and Turku. I will share more details about job-seeking and employment in Finland in the following blog article about my career story, so stay tuned 😊 
 

References:  

Business Jyväskylä, 2022. https://www.businessjyvaskyla.fi/ 

University of Jyväskylä, 2022. https://www.jyu.fi/en/frontpage 

University of Ljubljana, School of Economics and Business. 2022. http://www.ef.uni-lj.si/en