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ThemesDigital Communication - Feb 26, 2013

Student life and work at Department of Computer Science

22-year-old Ksenia Konyuskhova studies in the Algorithms and Machine Learning subprogramme of the Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki. She has also landed a job at Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT.

Ksenia Konyuskhova on the staircase of Exactum building, Faculty of Science. Photo: Sakari Tolppanen.

Ksenia Konyuskhova from Russia studies computer science at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Science. Before beginning her studies in autumn 2011, she had completed Bachelor’s degree in the Faculty of Business Informatics in her hometown, Nizhny Novgorod.

“My studies there were mostly connected to computer science, too,” Ksenia says. At Kumpula science campus, she studies in the Algorithms and Machine Learning subprogramme and her minor subject is mathematics.

“I’m very interested in machine learning and artificial intelligence that are used in developing intelligent algorithms to monitor user upheaval or predicting something that will happen in the future.”

Ksenia says that applying to study at Department of Computer Science a few years back was quite a spontaneous decision.

“I was looking for nice universities and nice countries in Europe when my mother suggested Finland and I started to do some more Googling.” Ksenia found out online that the University of Helsinki is high-ranking, among the top-80 universities in the world.

The high-level of education, research, and standard of living were the main reasons why she decided to apply. “Finland is also close to Russia so it was convenient for me to come here,” she adds.

From the start of her studies, Ksenia has been very pleased with the university and how the teachers care about their students. During the first year, she was so excited about everything that even the cold and dark Finnish winter didn’t bother her too much.

Ksenia says that the best thing about her studies at the Faculty of Science is the freedom to choose courses according to her own interests. “You can focus on specific specialisation areas, and go deeper in studying them.” That differs from the higher education in Russia, where the students complete a predetermined set of courses to get a degree.

Master’s-level studies take usually two years to complete. Currently, Ksenia is working on her Master’s thesis on reinforcement learning. At the same time she is working at Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT in a project that develops an information retrieval system for scientists.

Ksenia is involved in the development of reinforcement learning algorithms to train the system during the search session “The person starts searching and can manipulate some features to get something new and the system adapts to his current interest,” Ksenia explains.

She adds that working at the University and doing her studies at the same time is a very good opportunity and through that she has gotten the chance to participate in scientific conferences.

“People keep asking if I’m going to do a PhD as well,” Ksenia says laughing but that she hasn’t decided yet. In any case, staying in Finland after graduating is a plausible option for her. “In addition to career and research, there are many things that attract me to stay here. For long term living, I like the idea of how the government cares about the people,” she says.

Ksenia adds that everything has gone quite smoothly during her stay in Finland. The only problem with the language she has faced is that everyone speaks English so well that it is hard to stay motivated to learn the Finnish. But she is trying and is already on her fifth Finnish course.

English is a widely used language in the science community of University of Helsinki, and most of her free time Ksenia spends with other international students of Faculty of Science. “Together we go to the cinema, visit museums, go bowling, do sports, and visit other Finnish towns,” she lists.

This article has been published also on the Admissions & Studies website of University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Science. Visit also Studying at UH site to find out more about the study possibilities at the University of Helsinki.

Elisa Lautala works as web editor for University of Helsinki's Faculty of Science. Elisa likes all kinds of cultural events, good books, warm weather, and aqua-jogging.