||What I’ve Learned from Living in Finland: Education Is the Key

What I’ve Learned from Living in Finland: Education Is the Key

Penulis: Ibnu Ahsani –  Masa kecil Ibnu yang sempat dilewati di Finlandia memberikannya banyak pengalaman hidup yang berharga. Campus Ambassador Dana Cita dari UNPAD ini juga belajar betapa besarnya pengaruh pendidikan dalam kehidupan manusia.


It was night time when I arrived in Helsinki back in 2006. The roads were only lit up by luminous orange street lamps served to guide drivers through the slippery ice-covered asphalt. The environment around me seemed very cinematic, like something that I’ve only ever seen in Western movies or TV shows.

The skies were pouring down thick snowflakes with distinct ice patterns that were visible to the naked eye, the sidewalks were mounded with a meter-high stack of snow because nobody had treaded over them for a while, and every breath I exhaled reminded me of how cold the temperature was because it made me look like an active smoker. That day was very picturesque to say the least, but as the years go by, I start to realize that this country had more to offer than just stunning sceneries.

“Time flies when you’re having fun” is a phrase that people often apply during their vacation to a paradise island, or a trip to an amusement park. But in my case, I associate it with my experience studying in Finland. Okay… Maybe I didn’t have fun every single day that I went to class, but when I tried to look back on the times that I did spend in my classrooms, I only remembered joy and happiness.

Back then, I was never afraid or tired of going to school. In fact, I was actually excited because I knew I was going to learn something new. The classes were not stagnant, it wasn’t linear. We didn’t sit in our desk and payed attention to the teachers all day, but we explored intriguing study topics and conducted researches, which then encouraged us to develop our own thought process, rather than think the way our teachers think.

In fourth grade, I conducted a group research about volcanoes and an individual research about Egyptian mythologies, and the teachers had no problem with it because it was something I was interested in at that time. Three or four times every season, we would have physical education lessons outside of the school building and expose ourselves to the environment around us. Like going ice skating in the makeshift ice rink a couple of blocks away from our school during winter, or commute by tram to a small forest within the city to learn about contour maps during autumn.

Keep in mind, all of this happened when I was in primary school. There’s a reason why Finland has one of the best educational system in the world, and the fact that I get to experience it firsthand, only solidify that claim in my mind.

Even though I’ve mentioned a lot of positive traits in this article, it doesn’t mean that Finland has it all. One of the biggest differentiators between Finland and Indonesia is the culture of the people. Where Indonesia would be hospitable and warm, Finland is more individualistic and cold.

Over the four years that I lived in Helsinki, I can count by hands the times that I was greeted by my neighbors or engaged in a conversation with a stranger during my commute to school. Everyone seems to mind their own business and rarely take part in small conversations just for the sake of being friendly. I’m not saying that this is a flaw, I’m just saying that this is different from what I used to when growing up in Jakarta.

Every word I typed whilst writing this article feels like going down memory lane. I missed going to Hietaniemi and Linnanmaki with my classmates right before summer vacation, I missed playing hide-and-seek with my friends in the Indonesian Embassy. I missed the sensation of unbearable coldness as I sled down a snow-covered hill during a winter afternoon, and I missed the wind breezing across my face as I ride my bike throughout the city during an autumn evening.

Those were the good old days where my only responsibilities were studying and having fun. On the other hand though, aside from just a trip of nostalgia, the more I think about my past, the more I realize how education had an important role in all of it.

The reason why I lived in Finland is because of my father’s work. The reason why he got that work in the first place is because he studied diligently in a reputable university. One of the reasons why Finland is so famous is because of their renounced educational system. And the reason why the Finns are prosperous is because most of them are well educated. The dots are slowly connecting. Education is the key to a successful future.

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