Studying and Living in Finland LUT Alumni Experience by Aisulu Harjula

Different countries, different students

I had opportunities to attend different European universities as part of my international exchange programs. Now from my experience I would like to describe the different study approaches in different countries.I graduated from high school in Kazakhstan. We have good universities in Kazakhstan but I’ve never studied in any of them. I’ve been living and studying in Vienna for half-a-year and in Belgium for a year. I completed my Bachelor’s degree in a Russian university located in Siberia and my final year of Master’s studies is being spent in Finland.

33Students at Kazakh National University. © KAZNU

An interesting thing I’ve noticed when I started to study in Siberia is that level of school education in Kazakhstan is higher than the Russian one, and despite the bilingualism in Kazakhstan, Kazakh students are more grammatically correct in the Russian language than students from Russia. European education has common standards but there are great differences even within Europe.


Students room at Vienna University of Technology, Austria. © TU Wien.


Generally, students in Europe are more conscious about their studies, so they take exams honestly with no cheating, have good social and student environment and support. They are individualistic and can handle things by their own. They have lack of geographical knowledge, can’t distinguish people from countries outside Europe but mostly they are interested in the world and are open minded to get friends from around the world.

9University, residential and shopping buildings intertwine into one architectural line in the small student city in Belgium called Louvain-la-Neuve.

Belgian students are more warmly social than Austrian students. Each single Austrian student is very individual and Austrians are generally quite cold people by nature. I’ve met many exchange student who faced cultural shock because of that. In comparison, Belgian students are very open to making friends and are involved in many student social activities. They are even good in their geographical knowledge and very proud of Belgian chocolate while Finnish students are proud of the country and are high tech. =)

6Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland. © LUT

In Belgium I was surprised to see so called messy student parties (because of the amount of trash) and generally high level of crimes such as local thievery. But in Finland you feel very safe, it’s one of the safest countries in the world.  There are things which might be unusual for a Finn, for instance, talking to a person you don’t know. Finns become shy in this case while Belgians are not shy at all and may greet anyone  on the street. Finnish students sometimes might not greet those who they know.

5Some significant lectures at Tomsk Polytechnic University (Russia) are held in the main building. © TPU

In Russia the student environment varies in regions but generally students are simply obliged to complete their degrees in limited time and usually can’t choose study courses. It’s easy to lose a student place at the university after two exam failures, and paid education might be even more expensive than in Europe. Students are not motivated to study English, however they are socially connected and less individual. In studies they are focused more on passing the exams and getting grades rather than on quality of their knowledge. They also tend to cheat on exams and are not well balanced in study and social life.

About The Author

Researcher at LUT, Master of Economics, LUT & GSOM Saint Petersburg State University. Focus on Strategy, Innovation and Sustainability. Background in natural sciences.


  1. Egor 25.7.2014 at 09:32

    It’s totally true about goals of Russian students. And it’s sad.

    • Aysulu 7.8.2014 at 14:32

      Well, I didn’t meant to turn them down, no. I’m just telling about the insights from outside. I’ve just seen it and that’s it.

  2. khonoff ilya 29.7.2014 at 21:01

    yeah… I think the education in kazakhstan seems to be more similar to Uzbekistan.. While, the education in India is so different. U have to do everything yourself. If your late for paying money anything else, they say no problem pay late fee. Or if do not attend the lectures and come to the exam they just take you 500rupees around 8 dollars now. They speak hindi sometimes even though there are so many foriegners in the class. You have money do everything here… You may not gain your degree if you don’t follow their rules. The worst part is i have 80 classmates most are girls (2/3), and they never talk to foriegners in the class. Guys are kind of coz they are interested about other countries…

    • Aysulu 7.8.2014 at 14:34

      I just have one question, why would you go from Uzbekistan to study in India?

  3. ROB 15.11.2014 at 05:54

    Yes… the education system differs between countries as we know that our culture and tradition has direct role to play in these variation.
    Had the education system been same, there would not be need of exchange schemes and abroad study.
    The education system in particular country is tailored to meet country’s demand of their future manpower.
    In short, culture designs the people and country designs the education system.

  4. Vera 27.4.2016 at 00:39

    Hi, thank you for that article you did (and pictures), I found it very useful 🙂

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