Academic Material to be Brought Along

Lecturers

Lecturers should carefully consider the amount and type of materials to bring for their own and student use. This will depend in part on how much credit will be awarded for your courses, the types of courses you will offer, and the manner in which your students are used to studying. Your best source of information on this is your host department. Make sure that you are well informed about this before you depart for Finland.

Keep in mind that your students in Finland will be reading and conversing in a language other than their mother tongue. In general, however, Finnish students have a good command of English, and many read at least a portion of their course books in English.

Normally, Finnish graduate studies are divided in smaller units that can be completed in different ways, either by taking a taught course, writing an essay, doing some laboratory work, etc. More information on this topic can be found in this Guide on the "University Education" section.

The relationship between lectures and reading is often different from that in the United States. The brevity of contact time and the fact-oriented attitude of most Finnish students are important factors to keep in mind as you adapt an American lecture style to a Finnish environment.

Most American lecturers are accustomed to nearly twice the amount of contact hours per course, in addition to the assigned readings. Lectures in America are often lightened and illustrated with anecdotes and stories. The Finnish course without readings requires careful focusing on the substance of the lecture within a shorter time frame.

University courses in Finland are largely self-contained; students usually expect to be able to borrow the course reading materials from the university’s student library and seldom want to buy the required books. The range of English texts available as optional readings may be limited if the required texts for the course are in another language. Anything required for course work in Finland will be available, though it may be convenient to bring a few general books and bibliographic guides.

It may also prove beneficial to contact Finnish faculty members and especially the host in advance about supplementary readings that might be brought along and what would be the best way to make them available to students. Remember that Finnish academic faculty and staff are often away from campus during the summer period and they may be difficult to reach during June – August.

Fulbrighters abroad are often thought to represent American life in general and may be asked to comment or lecture on a wide range of topics within the American experience, including some far afield from their areas of expertise. Use discretion when considering invitations to speak on such topics. With this likelihood in mind, it may be worthwhile in the months before your departure to pay more attention to American politics, culture, and current events in newspapers and periodicals.

It is also common for grantees to be asked to talk about their home university or community. On such occasions, it helps to have copies of catalogs and brochures. Have your admissions office mail you packets of their promotional materials. Also, consider bringing photos, tourist brochures, and postcards from your hometown and surrounding area. Slides, brochures and maps are available at the department of tourism in your home state.

Before getting to Finland, create a brief PowerPoint about your hometown, home university and your life in general. This proves useful when you are asked to provide background information about yourself to colleagues etc.

Researchers

Preparation for research to be conducted in Finland will dictate the materials necessary to pursue the project successfully. University library collections are comprehensive in most European language groups. For convenience or regular reference you may wish to bring some of your own key periodical and text copies.

If necessary, it is probably a better idea to purchase large quantities of scholarly materials in the U.S., as these things can be extraordinarily expensive in Finland. Any reference data that can be entered on a laptop or accessed in electronic form will lighten your paper load and copy costs. Stationary and office supplies are available inexpensively from the university stores.

Students

The relationship of Fulbright students to their host institution has often been referred to as casual by former grantees; such a description reflects structural differences from an American perspective. It is a fact that the relationship of students to their university is less regulated in Europe than in the United States.

Fulbright graduate students should expect to work independently, using libraries, archives, and museums, or other endeavors as individual projects demand. If your research in Finland requires interviews with people who do not speak English, it is a good idea to contact your host institution; there may be some students who are willing to assist you with interpretations and translations.

Students pursuing the Finnish licentiate or doctoral degrees work largely on their own and consult their supervisor only when needed.

Finnish professors have often been generous in advising and guiding American students in their projects. However, grantees planning to engage in research work must be prepared to adjust their plans to the local resources and conditions. Your own initiative is the most important element in a successful study program.

More and more courses and entire degree programs can be taken in English and in other foreign languages in Finnish universities. The best advantages of lectures, however, are gathered by students who understand Finnish because some courses are taught in Finnish only.

It is possible to arrange independent study in English as the equivalent to Finnish lectures. Papers and exams may usually be taken in English. Arranging this will involve some extra work by your professor on your behalf. The more self-directed you are, the greater your chances of success.

It is wise to contact a professor in your host institution well in advance to outline what you would like to do, what you feel you are able to do on your own, and what you expect to be available as resources. You should be very specific in communicating with your host about your expectations for the study period, as well as the expectations your host has.

Keep in mind that your host is used to working with Finnish students in a Finnish university setting, which is different from the American one. Your supervisor might not have prior experience with Fulbrighters or other American students.

Please also see “University Education” section in this Guide.

Teachers

Each teacher grantee and project is different and therefore the needed materials may vary significantly from teacher to teacher. It is largely up to the grantee and the host to decide what type of activities the grantee is involved in, which may also have an influence on the type of materials that should be brought along.

It is good to keep in mind that an important part of the Fulbright program is sharing knowledge and mutual learning. Therefore the teachers should plan already at home what they will be able to teach to the Finnish hosts and schools and plan the materials accordingly. University library collections in Finland are comprehensive in most European language groups also in the field of pedagogy.

If you have your own key readings that you need for your project and cannot find them in the host university’s on-line library catalog, it can be a good idea to bring them along.