It’s my third year of American college life as a Fulbright Finland Foundation grantee. Today it snowed almost a foot, or, like I say in Finland, thirty centimeters. I never imagined finding myself this excited about snow ever again. Life in Nashville has been the most rewarding experience, a combination of world class education, friends from multiple continents, and a rapidly changing city scenery. All in the midst of the most popularly reported Presidential Election in the history of the U.S.
As I reflect back on the most valuable lessons I have so far gathered from life in the U.S., I am faced with difficulty of choices. For one, I have discovered my love for the academia. As I sit in my history class on French Renaissance, discussing the role of exceptional women in positions of power with my fellow classmates and professor, I realize that higher education is not only about getting the qualifications for a career, but also about becoming a well-rounded world citizen.
"Building a bridge between countries and cultures, the Fulbright Finland Foundation offers students and young professionals a chance to educate themselves abroad, gaining not only subject knowledge but ultimately fostering relationships with bright-minded individuals."
The Fulbright Finland Partnership Award with Vanderbilt University has enabled me to create a home away from home and explore my curiosity for knowledge further. Without opportunities like this one, the world feels a little bit more isolated.
Building a bridge between countries and cultures, the Fulbright Finland Foundation offers students and young professionals a chance to educate themselves abroad, gaining not only subject knowledge but ultimately fostering relationships with bright-minded individuals.
Liberal arts education helped to find my passion
Finishing high school, I could not decide what I wanted to study in the future. My problem was never not having any specific interests but rather having too many of them. A liberal arts education in an American university with the support of the Fulbright Finland Foundation enabled me to pursue my passion in economics, while taking courses ranging from chemistry to 18th century English literature and anthropology. While I found my passion in international economics, I also discovered the deep interest in world history and poetry.
Living in an all-inclusive campus compasses so much more than eating in the cafeteria before walking to class on a daily basis. It means playing sports post-lectures or joining friends, most all of whom also live on campus, for an afternoon coffee before heading to the meetings for various extracurricular activities, all taking place in the same community of a few thousand people.
For me, it has meant traveling internationally to compete in intercollegiate debate tournaments, discuss contemporary events with people from various backgrounds, feeding the intellectual curiosity, a common denominator among members of this community. It’s a world of its own within a bustling city, a small world I doubt I could have lived through anywhere else except in the U.S. There’s something unique about walking back to your dorm after lectures and seeing almost exclusively familiar faces, all of whom share the reality you’re living in.
An eye-opening journey
To say my journey in the U.S. has been eye-opening would be an understatement. It’s been a non-material investment with a rate of return so high I cannot even comprehend it yet. I have learned more during my time at Vanderbilt than ever before, not only in terms of academics, but also in terms of immense personal and professional growth.
"To say my journey in the U.S. has been eye-opening would be an understatement. It’s been a non-material investment with a rate of return so high I cannot even comprehend it yet."
The lessons my friends, studying various fields and coming from so many places, have taught me about how various cultures can all bloom together under one roof, or university. This is a lesson that the wider world needs to be taught.
Being part of this community matters, because not only have I discovered my own place in it, but I am also constantly inspired by my peers, creating hope for a better, interconnected future of global cooperation. This is why I believe that we need more partnerships such as the one between Vanderbilt University and the Fulbright Finland Foundation.