Studying in a research group enriched the exchange experience
Turku University of Applied Sciences has collaborated with Zuyd Hogeschool in the Netherlands, enabling student exchanges to Finland. The students' experience of Finland and Turku has been positive.
Text and photo by Siiri Welling
"The most surprising thing about Finns and Finland was how well everyone could speak English. It is therefore quite easy to get along with people."
This is how Faye Vossen, a Dutch exchange student at Turku University of Applied Sciences, who is studying health biometrics in her home country, explains. Vossen, a third-year student at Zuyd Hogeschool in the Netherlands, arrived in Finland in August last year with fellow student Ellen de Dreu.
"Faye first heard about this exchange opportunity from her teacher, and the teacher asked me if I would like to go with her on an exchange to Finland and Turku University of Applied Sciences, says de Dreu.
Erasmus-exchange programme students did not have much idea of what Turku University of Applied Sciences, Turku or Finland in general were like. There are no state-subsidized student lunches at universities in the Netherlands, so a cheap and healthy lunch on the campus of Turku University of Applied Sciences was a pleasant surprise for both. In addition, the good infrastructure in Turku and Finland was a welcome bonus. Because of the short distances, many journeys are made on foot or by bike.
"What surprised me, though, was that Finns always take their shoes off when they enter a house or building. This is common even in workplaces, says Vossen.
Studies in a research group
At Turku University of Applied Sciences, the exchange students studied in the Health Technology Research Group. After a short initial adjustment, Vossen and de Dreu were able to join the MyE.Way project. In late 2023 and early 2024, they conducted a preliminary study on the applicability of treadmill step analysis for screening and assessing the risk of lower limb injuries. Participants were 16–18-year-old girls' football players from the Southwest Finland region. The subjects came to the Laboratory for sports and functional ability of the Turku University of Applied Sciences to be measured, and Vossen and de Dreu collected data from them for the pre-study.
"The data could be used to adapt the training programme of these young athletes, together with the coaching staff, of course. That, in turn, could improve their performance," Vossen reflects.
Participating in the study taught students a lot. Both find the MyE.Way project interesting and very valuable from the athletes' point of view. In addition, the project was useful for their studies. They would recommend studying at Turku University of Applied Sciences and in Turku and consider participating in the research group's projects as an interesting learning opportunity.
"We have learnt a lot about patience, but also about working independently. Many people here trusted us to do our part in the research," say Vossen and de Dreu.
Mikko Pohjola, principal lecturer at Turku University of Applied Sciences, praises the students' attitude and success with the MyE.Way project.
"The exchange students have been very energetic, proactive, and productive. It has been a pleasure to do this research with them and I believe that this pilot study has been a good learning experience for them as well. In addition, the cooperation with their educational institution Zuyd Hogeschool has been effective and will continue this year," says Pohjola.