“When I first heard about the opportunity to study abroad, I was a bit hesitant. I had never studied in another country before. However, in the end, that is also why I decided to go."
Tane Leilua is a third-year Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Civil) student who spent four months studying at Finland's Lappeenranta University of Technology.
“When I first touched down in Finland, there was an immediate culture shock," he recalls. "It was -28 degrees and for the majority of the time, the place was pitch black as the sun rose at 9.00am and set around 3.00pm.
He recalls that this took him some time to get used to as he had come from a New Zealand summer.
"Because of this, the first week was quite tough, but after that it felt like home," he says.
Located a three-hour train ride from the Finnish capital Helsinki, Lappeenranta University of Technology has an intake of around 220 exchange students.
“That was great for me as a new student as it meant I wasn’t alone in the first few weeks. I started to meet new friends and get into a routine, which consisted of going for walks around the frozen lakes, studying in class, then heading into town for a look around the shops, before topping the night off with a sauna.”
Tane was also able to fit in some travel around Europe during his weekends.
"It was so cheap to travel around and I got to meet so many amazing people from all over the world which was just awesome."
Looking back at his trip, Tane notes that he not only gained an education and travel experiences, but also friendships and contacts all over the world.
"It truly was an experience of a lifetime, " he says. "So for anyone a bit hesitant or unsure if Study Abroad is right for you, I would say just do it. It’s an amazing opportunity that you would regret wasting.”