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Millennium Youth camper Martin Radev digs computer science - MyScience [archived]

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Millennium Youth CampMYC News - Mar 14, 2014

Millennium Youth camper Martin Radev digs computer science

2013 Millennium Youth Camper Martin Radev, aspiring computer scientist, talks about the ups and downs of coming to study in Helsinki. “Helsinki can be a great place. It is up to you how things will go,” he tips.

Photo: Martin Radev

Martin Radev attended the International Millennium Youth Camp in 2013 in the ICT and Digitalization theme group. He comes from Varna, one of the largest cities in Bulgaria and is currently studying for a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at the University of Helsinki.

He says the camp was the main reason he came to study in Helsinki, as Millennium Youth campers are offered the possibility to enroll as students at the Faculty of Science. Mathematics was Martin’s choice for major subject, but after a few months of studies computer science has captured his interest.

“Long story short this is how it happened: I was planning to study abroad and I had a few options. The possibilities and the curricular freedom at the University of Helsinki took the upper hand and I chose it.”

“I was waiting for so long to receive my acceptance letter and I had to answer the other universities what I was planning to do. Basically at the expected date of acceptance I was considering whether I should wait a few more hours or just enroll at my other choice. Luckily, I got my acceptance letter via email right away and now I am here.”

“You learn a lot of new stuff,” Martin says about moving abroad on your own. And not all of it is sunshine and walking on roses.

He arrived during the Christmas holidays, which meant a delay in getting the keys to his apartment. Happily a network of helpful acquaintances made his arrival a bit smoother. Finding a part-time job at a start-up company is also helping him settle into his new life.

“I spent a few days at a Bulgarian family I keep contacts with since that occasion. Afterwards, I had some things to get done – get the keys, get a bus card, etc. Here, I have to thank Liine Heikkinen (Millennium Youth Camp 2013 guide) for the help she has offered.”

“Since then, everything has been going rather smoothly. Some exams have passed. It was rather easy to find a part-time job as a programmer. Currently, I am helping one of the professors with his research project. In my experience I believe most of the stuff is really well thought out. Issuing documents and registering for services is extremely easy.”

“You will read “Living in Helsinki is expensive”. If you think about it, it is not that expensive compared to other European cities. You can also land a job pretty easily if you have some experience in some field prior to your coming to Finland.”

Martin also has an important tip to share: “Never leave your key inside your room or you will get yourself locked out and then you will have to pay a fee, a very important lesson in life,” he laughs.

He has been satisfied with teaching and tutoring at the University of Helsinki. The main difficulty he has faced is that bachelor-level courses are in Finnish which means some communication problems and plenty of independent study.

“I believe that most of the courses are really well organized (at least in the Math and Computer Science department). It seems that most of the Computer Science professors are putting effort in their courses and some I believe are free to enroll online even for people who do not study at the University of Helsinki.”

“In some cases the language barrier is a huge problem. I have been to some lectures and exercises and what a non-speaking Finnish person can get are just some terminology in English and nothing more. I even had the bad experience that in one of the exercises session in one of the courses no one to want to join my group since I do not know Finnish. However, I was quickly able to find a group in one of the other exercise sessions.”

“In most cases, you can easily find study material for most courses or at least you will be suggested such. The exams are always translated in English if they see that someone wants to take the exam in English. So, basically there are possibilities for International students. What I believe is that you can do fine without knowing Finnish, but if you know Finnish, you have a little more opportunities at least if you are a Bachelor,” Martin explains his views.

Martin keeps himself busy with his studies and is ambitiously working towards his goals.

“I am not really relaxing right now since basically you can make so that every month is full of exams and homework. It is up to you how things will go here. If you want to study a lot, graduate ASAP or anything of that sort – you can do it. The system is free. You can take as many courses and exams as you want. You do not have to go to lectures if you feel you know the material,” he says.

“Also, after finishing your Bachelor degree you can directly continue to a Master degree at the university without any exams.”

However it’s not all work and no play: “If you want to party, you can do so. The minimum amount of credits is not so much and you can basically be a party animal if you want and still do pretty well.”

Millennium Youth Campers Nidia Obscura from Mexico and Victor Hugo Corrêa Rodrigues from Brazil are also students at the University of Helsinki. Read their interview in MyScience!

The main organisers of Millennium Youth Camp are Finland’s Science Education Centre LUMA (University of Helsinki), Technology Academy Finland, and Aalto University.

Maija Pollari is a science journalist whose background is in molecular biology research. She enjoys flamenco dancing, reading, and roleplaying adventures.