“Diak was an easy choice for me”

Exchange student Mariana tells her story: how is it like to study at Diak?

Hello! My name is Mariana and I came to Finland to experience studying abroad. Originally, I am from Republic of Moldova, which is a beautiful country that I would locate in the South-East of Europe. I am a future social and diaconal worker.

I prefer to study about and with people.

This was the main reason I chose to study in my program, which is developed by Charles University from Prague in partnership with Diak from Finland. I study in this program, called Interdiak, already for two and a half years.

I wanted to have my Erasmus+ at Diak as this would be a good opportunity to experience another study model. I wanted to experience studies in a bigger group of people. In addition, I wanted to learn about the social system in Finland.

I was curious to meet my host institution as I heard a lot about it from teachers who would come from Diak to Cesky Tesin in Czech Republic.

Expedition, friendship and travel

If I would sum up my experience as exchange student in Diak into three words, those would be expedition, friendship and travel.

This Erasmus+ exchange gave me a lot of new friends, new practice experiences in one of Helsinki social services as big part of my study program is continual practice placement, which I did this semester in Helsinki.

I enjoyed studying about model of work with elderly people and people with disabilities. I learned about organizations that work in these areas in Finland and their activities.

In addition, I was part of a community work art project developed by our students’ group. It was especially pleasant to work in group and collaborate with different organizations, including a library to develop this project.

Practice and theory hand in hand

I had my practice placement working to support Romani people who migrate from other European countries to Finland. I worked with Romani people during the whole semester, which helped me understand better the situation in Helsinki and in countries where people come from.

I knew why and how people immigrate from Republic of Moldova or Romania, but in this context, I could see to what reality they come if they chose Finland. I also learned about the problems Romani people face and what effect migration has on Finland.

On the other hand, I was lucky to have other students doing placement in the same place with me. Discussing with them helped me have other view on the situation.

I also enjoyed a lot having theoretical lessons at Diak campus, which is wheelchair accessible. I didn’t have to think about accessibility at all as the building is prepared for a wheelchair user as I am. If I had to sum up my experience at Diak as exchange student in three words, those would be expedition, friendship and travel.

Good opportunities to travel and enjoy the Finnish culture

Looking back, I am happy I experienced creating new connections and travelling in Stockholm and Tallinn with other exchange students. I was happy also to have support of the university in questions related to accessibility of my dormitory.

I was happy the university implicated and offered support to arrange the practical matters. I really much enjoyed the parties organized by the student union O’Diako.

I had big pleasure learning Finland culture. I discovered it is a very nice country with amazing landscapes and beautiful culture. I enjoyed a lot being part of the sauna culture and was surprised to see how diverse Helsinki actually is and how many cultures intersect inside the city. Also, I enjoyed easy moving in the city as the public transportation works pretty well.

Even so, while being in Helsinki I realized that Finland still struggles with social related problems. I realized that there are no countries with perfect situation and everywhere are areas to work on.

This is one of the reasons why I recommend Diak for Erasmus+ program, as Diak is having the knowledge and lectures about the current situation both locally and globally. The exchange is a possibility to learn about existing systems and cultures in practice.