Phuong, who originally comes from Vietnam, always wanted to complete her Master's abroad. This dream brought her to the University of Turku. In this blog she shares the experience of her parents, who supported her in this important decision.
I decided to look for opportunities to study abroad after almost two years working as a teacher at a state university in Vietnam. Pursuing a Master’s degree abroad had always been something I wanted to do, since it would allow me to learn about my field in more depth.
When I told my parents that I had been accepted to the Master’s program at the University of Turku in Finland they were very happy and excited for me. I moved back in with them for the few months before moving to Finland, and they also helped me to prepare for the move.
My dad learnt everything he could find online in Vietnamese about life in Finland and my mom started learning English by herself on YouTube whenever she had time. Although they were quite anxious about my departure, everything went well and slowly things started to settle down once I arrived in Turku. Thanks to the internet, we were able to talk or chat via Messenger almost daily.
My dad wanted to know everything about Finland, and whether what he read online was correct. My mom had always been more adventurous, so we talked more seriously about the idea of her coming to Finland to visit me.
Knowing that my first year would be quite busy, we thought the best time for her trip would be the following spring, right when the semester ended. At first, my dad wasn’t quite on board with this idea because she had never travelled abroad on her own. Even though she spoke some English, we were worried that it would not be sufficient if something happened during the long journey from Hanoi to Helsinki.
It took us a while to plan the best travel itinerary for her to convince my dad with. We also discussed whether my dad would feel better if he went with her on the trip, but he had some business commitments at home, so he couldn’t go.
When he was finally persuaded, we started preparing for her travel visa application. It was a simple procedure, so I didn’t want them to go through a travel agency. But my parents weren’t used to that kind of paper work, so it took them a month or so to submit the papers.
On the day she had the visa interview, both of them were very nervous. But everything went well and she got her visa ready after only one week.
I was so proud of my mom when she arrived safely at Helsinki airport after a 30-hour trip from Vietnam. We chose the shortest route possible with Finnair; but as there are no direct flights from Hanoi to Helsinki, she had to spend 10-hours transiting at Hong Kong airport. For a woman at her 60s who had never been to Europe, it was an incredible achievement.
She came to Finland in late spring that year, but the weather was still cold and windy. It was actually perfect though, because she was able to see snow for the first time, while the days were long and full of light.
She was really impressed with how safe, quiet, clean and beautiful Finland is. After only two days, she had already explored the student village area and nearby neighbourhood on her own.
On the third day, I had an appointment at the bank in the centre, and while I was waiting for my turn she visited different shops and even bought some apples from a stall on Kauppatori (the market square). By then, she had already gotten used to saying “moi moi” ("hello") and “kiitos” ("thank you") to everyone.
With an adventurous spirit, my mom enjoyed every minute of her one-month trip to Europe. We also spent 20 days exploring Sweden, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands, but Finnish was the only language she insisted on learning. She also told me that she said “kiitos” to the flight attendants on her way back home. She loves Finland and I know she is looking forward to her next trips here!
Speaking about me, I have visited home once (in spring 2017) since I first arrived in Finland. I am going home this winter again, so I think I will try to meet my parents every 15 months or so, although this is not as frequent as I would like.
I try to go during the holiday when I can take time off both work and studies. Also, as before I only had a one year student visa and I always had to renew it in the summer, I could not really travel while the residence permit was being processed. But now that schedule is more stable, I would say we will try to meet once a year either here in Finland, somewhere in Europe, or then I will fly home.
Learn more about studying in Finland
Finland University serves as a gateway to one of the finest Finnish multidisciplinary Universities on offer. If you are interested in studying in Finland and would like to find out more, the downloadable Finland University guide provides a quick starting package about how to apply for International Master’s Degree Programmes and Scholarships at the member universities of Finland University.
Interested? Download the guide and learn more!