Bioeconomy and Forssa are the best!

An unusually large group of about 70 international students started their studies at HAMK’s campus in Forssa this autumn. Most of the students come from Asia and Africa, and they’re studying in the ICT Bioeconomy Engineering programme taught in English.

Neljä iloista ihmistä aidan luona. Taustalla virtaava vesi sekä puita.Duxing Li (left), Zhaleh Marzban, Kira Lingwood and Fan Liu are studying in Forssa to become ICT engineers.

HAMK's international students are studying to become ICT engineers with expertise in matters relating to the circular economy and a sustainable future. 

The circular economy and green transition also brought Zhaleh Marzbani from Iran to Forssa a year ago, and now she acts as a tutor for first-year students. 

- I studied urban planning at a university in Iran, and I’m particularly interested in the green transition. Unfortunately though, it isn’t a topic of discussion in Iran. That's why I wanted to study in an EU country and ended up here, says Zhaleh. 

- I also appreciate that this is a great place for women. On top of that, the happiest nation in the world dwells here. That doesn't necessarily mean that people are laughing and dancing in the streets, but it translates into a good life. You can gladly live and pay taxes here. We pay taxes in Iran too but nobody knows where the money ends up. 

Zhaleh has introduced the new students not only to the secrets of studying but also to the city of Forssa and its services. 

- After a year, you'll be surprised to find that you know almost everyone here. You’ll soon be saying hello to every other person in a grocery store. That's one of the best things about this small town.

Crowds gave way to peace

Fan Liu and Duxing Li, who arrived from China, quickly discovered that the people in their apartment building were friendly and wanted to communicate even if they didn’t speak English. 

- I think it’s important for me to learn Finnish first. I want to put as much effort into it as possible during the first year of school, said Fan Liu.

Fan comes from a city of thirty million people, and he professes his love for Forssa, its tranquillity and cleanliness. 

- I recently visited Helsinki and it felt wonderful to come back here. In the future, I’d like to work remotely so I can live here in Forssa. I feel very lucky that I’m able to study here. 

The new residents feel that the lack of a railway line and scarce bus connections to bigger cities are the only downsides to living in Forssa. 

Duxing, on the other hand, has already found his way to Forssa's jogging trails and gym. The running shoes he brought from home are the wrong kind, though, designed for running on hard asphalt. In Forssa, you can run on a much more varied terrain.

Theory and practice

Kira Lingwood is originally from the UK but she’s been living in Finland for eight years now. She first studied sustainable development in Finnish at HAMK for a year. 

- I wanted to switch to a programme taught in English because studying and especially working in groups in Finnish was a challenge for me. The studies were also quite theory-based, and I’m more interested in experimentation and application. That’s why this bioeconomy engineering programme was more appealing to me. 

The Chinese students, Fan and Duxing, also appreciate the unique study programme. They wanted to study something related to programming. Bioeconomy has the potential to solve many problems of our future. 

All four students would also like to work part-time alongside their studies and integrate more into the community. Kira already works weekends at an ABC gas station. 

- My main advice would be to make friends and to look after them. Friends are important when the dark and cold winter sets in, says tutor Zhaleh.

Friends introduce you to local life

HAMK has an International Friendship Programme that supports international students in getting to know Finnish culture as well as local people, businesses and communities. The programme gives students the opportunity to learn about ordinary Finnish life, culture and local customs, thus strengthening their own support network in Finland. 

For the locals participating, the programme provides the opportunity to make new international friends, through whom you can get to know new cultures, practice your language skills or discuss professional matters if that’s of interest. A community or a company can also participate in the programme as a friend.

Find out more about International Friendship.