When comparing the amount of exchange students in universities of applied sciences in Finland, JAMK University of Applied Sciences is an overwhelming winner. JAMK also has the top position when it comes to incoming teacher and expert visits. I asked a couple of exchange students what they think about JAMK Library.
The interviews were done at the end of May just before the exchange students left JAMK and sunny Jyväskylä (how great it was that they could see Finland in its “summer attire” and not only the cold, chilly days of winter). It was in the middle of last exams, and maybe for that reason I got answers only from three students.
Rona – the amazing flower from China
Wu Zhao Rong, Rona for classmates, has a very special name. Her name means a wonderful and remarkably beautiful flower in the swamp area in China. She has studied in the International Business Program at JAMK for 10 months. In China she studies Digital Media.
Rona, what is your favourite place in JAMK Library?
– It must be the discussion area with computers, she says, and continues:
– It is like a bridge connecting the quiet zone and the bookshelves. I have had most of my pleasant time there with my study group, searching for information and giving immediate feedback to them. We liked it very much. It is a place we can gather around and do our work and go get books if we want. And we can talk to each other if we need any help. Sometimes I wait for my friends there too.
Like many digital media students, she doesn’t go to the library very often, but uses the library’s databases enthusiastically:
– The thing I appreciate most in the library are the databases of JAMK. We can find documents we need in those databases for our academic papers, Rona says.
That sounds very good! I ask Rona to give me some advice for developing our library:
– I think for me, the library is nearly perfect. The only thing I think should be there is a closed section for real quiet study because the quiet zone is not always quiet and it can be annoying. One more thing, I think there should be more than just course books in the library. I noticed that most of the books that are not course books are in Finnish and there are few choices for exchange students. It is the biggest difference compared to China, she says.
These suggestions sound like something we should consider, to better our exchange students" study experience at JAMK. How about the difference between printed books and e-books? Which format is better according to foreign students? Rona says that she prefers paper books over e-books, because printed books give her a feeling that she’s really reading and e-books just make her feel like she’s playing with an electronic device, she explains to me.
What conclusions can you make about Finland and Jyväskylä?
– Finland has treated me well. My studies here have been very fascinating. I have got to know people from all around Europe and their lives. I will certainly miss it when I get back. I think the international atmosphere is the best thing Jyväskylä showed to me. Everyone is so warm and nice. Though Helsinki is a bigger city, I have to admit that I like Jyvaskyla much better, she smiles.
Hannah likes the vertical garden
Hannah Forsthuber is a paper technology student from Munich, Germany. At JAMK she has studied Mechanical Engineering for five months. I ask her what is best about studying at JAMK as a foreign student and if it was easy to begin studying here.
– Everyone speaks English very well, this makes it easy to orientate oneself. Almost everything is handled online, from the course schedule to the menu in the cafeteria...this was also very helpful and made it very easy to start as a foreigner here. It is quite easy to study here if you have a good time management and always keep track with your tasks, Hannah says.
Hannah’s favourite place in JAMK Library is in front of the vertical garden across the stairs in the big room. She loves to look at something green while studying. Besides, she can stretch her feet – which is not possible at the study places upstairs, she explains. Studying and printing are the main activities she does in the library, instead of hanging out with friends.
But do you read either printed or e-books more than the other?
– I prefer real books for reading. Although I have to admit that it’s easier to search inside e-books, she tells.
I’m curious about the differences between JAMK Library and the (academic) libraries in Germany.
– There are no self-service hours for students in Germany. There is a book return box outside the building to give back your books, even if the building is closed. And we don"t have different study areas, divided in zones (social zone, study zone, etc...), Hannah reveals.
Hannah, in your opinion: What attractions should we show to foreign visitors in Jyväskylä?
– I think Jyväskylä has wonderful nature and it’s very close to the city. Right behind the Main campus there is a little forest, a park and a wonderful lake that I discovered just today, she says and continues:
– When I go back I will miss the personal relationship to the teachers. In Germany we are not allowed to call our teachers by their first names.
Marion prefers to study in the Library
My last interviewee is Marion Moro, a young lady living in Paris. She studies international business (sales, marketing, leadership etc.) in her own university in La Rochelle in the southwest of France. At JAMK she has taken also tourism courses, a subject which interests her a lot. She has studied at JAMK for almost a year, as she arrived in Jyväskylä on August 19th 2017.
I ask her the same question as I did Rona and Hannah: What‘s your favourite place in JAMK Library?
– I think that my favourite place is the place where there is just a little chair and a little table, and just behind the chair there is a wall of plants: I don’t know why but every time that I was in the library, I directly went to this place. It was perfect because I was not distracted because nobody walks near this place. But I appreciate too the balcony: I really liked the little view of the outdoors especially when the snow was falling, she says.
The Library is important to her as a studying place:
– The most often I appreciated to study in the library. To be honest, I know that if I work in my flat I will be distracted so I prefer to study in the library! I think that the computer to search extracts of books is really useful, and I have used also the photocopier a lot of times. I don’t know what services should be in the library, I don’t notice that something is missing, Marion describes.
So, what book format do you prefer? Do you like e-books more than printed books, or vice versa?
– Printed books for sure! I really dislike e-books, I think there is not the charm of reading a book and it’s sad. I appreciate reading a printed book, put some post-its, highlight the important quotes…, she says.
How does JAMK Library differ from academic libraries in your own country?
– In my own university, there are no wall of plants! Seriously, I think that JAMK Library is really well organized, all is accessible, there are many places to study at, many computers. Most often in my own university there are not enough tables for example. And I think it is really good to have some places where we can speak in groups, and on the other hand, some silent places: great idea!, Marion thanks.
In Marion’s opinion, the quality of the courses is for sure the best thing about studying at JAMK as a foreign student.
– Here some courses were really interesting, I am thinking in particular of language courses. I think that I have learnt more in nine months here than in France in two years! It was really easy to begin studies here because all the supervisors of exchange students are really kind and benevolent, they want that we feel good and it is really appreciable. They give a lot of information, it is really cool!, she tells.
– I think I will miss some excellent teachers and the quality of life that I had here: Finnish people are so lucky to have snow, sun and lakes! If foreign visitors come to Jyväskylä in winter, skiing, walking or skating on the lake and participating in a hockey match (the thing that I regret not having done) should be offered to them. In summer, hiking and taking a rest at the beach or in the harbour are attractive activities in Jyväskylä, she recommends.
I am very grateful to Rona, Hannah and Marion for sharing their views and experiences of JAMK Library. How wonderful exchange students we have here at JAMK!
Photos of the favourite places of JAMK students on JAMK Library’s Instagram.
Suvi Perttula, Information Specialist, JAMK University of Applied Sciences