‒Every time I went to a conference or seminar of some sort, there was someone mentioning Finland and the good practices and high level of research there. There was another interesting programme in Italy, so people were asking me why I didn’t choose the warmer climate ‒ but actually I really like the winter and snow. I had visited Helsinki once before and had such a good feeling about Finland being a beautiful and nice country that the decision was eventually easy to make.
Online studies ‒ and the most anticipated course
Agnese started her studies in the autumn of 2020 in a very exceptional situation.
‒Due to Covid-19 restrictions all teaching was organised online, but I had already acquired a student flat so I decided to go to Kuopio. At the start of the semester we had an online meeting where the programme coordinator welcomed us, and the student ambassadors and some alumni were sharing their experiences. We also had one-on-one meetings with the coordinator Siru, who is by the way the best! You can ask her anything.
Based on her two month study experience at the time of the interview, both the teaching and the content of the studies have met her expectations.
‒There’s a wide variety of courses: we have some mandatory courses and the rest we can choose based on the direction we want to take, whether it is computational physics or materials sciences, for instance. You also have a freedom to choose something that is not even connected to your field if you can fit it in your schedule. I also like the Finnish system where the courses are not full semester long but last for a few months and then we have an exam, instead of a massive exam period at the end of the semester.
For Agnese, naming her favourite course is easy.
‒It’s definitely Radiotherapy in Physics, because it is actually the course that I wanted to take the most when I joined this programme. I really like it because it’s about the field where I want to work after I graduate. The professor is a medical physicist himself, which is something I really value. People who teach from their own work or research expertise share really valuable insights.
On the other hand, programming has taken the most effort.
‒My previous studies didn’t include that much programming, so this side is new to me. The course Mathematical Software has been a good introduction to the theme. But otherwise I feel that my previous experience made me well prepared for the studies.
As the studies will continue remotely at least for the next few months, Agnese cannot tell much about the student life in Kuopio ‒ yet.
‒I hope that life and studies will soon return to normal and I get to meet new people face to face. Hopefully I will also get a chance to do practical training in the university hospital. Even though Kuopio is fairly small, it has a nice atmosphere and in the summer it was green everywhere. Hopefully I get to ski at some point, because when I was a kid, we had snow in Latvia, but now due to climate change those days are gone.
As Agnese has already found the field of expertise she wants to specialise in, her future plans are somewhat clear.
‒I want to work with radiotherapy devices, as they are very impressive and intriguing. I feel that by focusing on radiotherapy I can really help people, because cancer is a disease that more and more people will unfortunately suffer from due to ageing. I never wanted to be a doctor, but as a medical physicist I get to plan the radiotherapy process that will ultimately destroy the cancer. It’s the intriguing meeting point of doctors’ and engineers’ jobs.
After completing the Master’s degree she would like to continue with specialisation training to be officially qualified to work as a clinical medical physicist in Finland.
‒I think medical physics is a really good, recognised profession. I have many options, either to work in Finland, which is why I also started Finnish studies, or I could go back to Latvia any day where the field of medical physics is gradually developing.
Agnese is happy that she has found the perfect field of study that combines her passions, and a programme that met her needs.
‒I wanted to study something that connects natural sciences like biology, physics and mathematics to mechanical engineering, so this is exactly it: combining the knowledge of people’s health and complicated machines. I think the programme is an excellent choice because the university seems very good and there are open people who are genuinely ready to help you further.