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Histo­rical Silk Roads to Uzbe­kis­tan and Paths to Excel­lence at Karelia UAS, Finland

This is the story of five young coura­geous Uzbek students who decided to come to Karelia UAS, Finland, to study during the Covid pande­mic. Despite difficul­ties, they finally succeed in adap­ting to Karelia UAS and to the Finnish society. This article hope­fully inspi­res young people to seek their life excel­lences in Finland and at Karelia UAS.

Disco­ve­red by a Chinese diplo­mat, the Great Silk Road main routes unite the East and the West, passing through the terri­tory of the present-day Uzbe­kis­tan. Uzbe­kis­tan was one of the places where the first civi­liza­tions emerged and deve­lo­ped (UNESCO 2022).

Although the history of Uzbe­kis­tan went by with many ups and downs, Uzbek people stay strong with their natio­nal charac­te­ris­tics. They are peace-loving and peace-seeking people in all aspects of life. Worldwide history witnes­sed how Uzbeks have always tried their best to reach better lives. They are excel­lence seekers. The history docu­ments thousands of Uzbeks working very hard abroad to earn their livings and send money home to their fami­lies. The history also witnes­ses the high-level entrepre­neu­rial spirits that the Uzbeks have in buil­ding their own lives, fami­lies, future and nation. The Uzbeks stand out with hard-working, family-orien­ted and peace-loving personalities.

There are thousands of Uzbek students abroad, and Karelia UAS welco­med five young students from Kokand who flew to Finland in the middle of corona pande­mic in 2021. They are the most coura­geous excel­lent seekers who believe in their future ahead in Finland and at Karelia UAS.

With help of their mutual trust­ful, deep and profes­sio­nal part­ners­hip, members of inter­na­tio­nal staff at both Karelia UAS and Kokand worked hard to prepare their students for coming to Karelia UAS in spring 2021. The curricula of both insti­tu­tions were reviewed. Kokand accre­dits courses offered by Karelia UAS to their students’ curricula. After recei­ving admis­sion letters from Karelia UAS, students from Kokand applied for their study permits. This shows the deter­mi­na­tion of these young students. Four Uzbek students recei­ved a posi­tive deci­sion from the Finnish Embassy. They imme­dia­tely packed their suitca­ses and flew to Finland in the middle of a cold, snowy winter during the Covid pande­mic. Their exci­ting life jour­neys started…

Simi­larly, many of us packed our suitca­ses and went to study abroad when we were young. We stepped out of our comfort zones and started the journey as excel­lence seekers. We met people from diffe­rent count­ries and cultu­res, and people with diffe­rent langua­ges and perso­na­li­ties etc. We learned how to survive, adapt to new places and seek for life excel­lence. In spite of chal­len­ges which may hurt us, we reco­ve­red and grew even stron­ger than we had been before. More impor­tantly, we learned to distin­guish between good and bad, and defi­ni­tely we need to be strong heading towards the good and nice paths of lives.

These life jour­neys help us to form diver­si­fied pers­pec­ti­ves, mindset, tole­rance, and open­ness towards diffe­rences among us.

The same applies to Uzbek students.

Four Uzbek students arrived in Finland in winter­time in the middle of a snows­torm. Karelia UAS assig­ned some members of their staff to welcome the students and took them to their new home, Karelia UAS. The fifth Uzbek student was also finally granted his permit. Even though he came to Finland almost a month after his peers, he finally made his way to Karelia UAS.

Adap­ta­tion at the begin­ning: difficult but exciting

The begin­ning period of five Uzbek students at Karelia UAS was full of difficulties.

The first difficulty they faced was the high level of digi­ta­liza­tion at Karelia UAS, with advanced levels in research, inno­va­tion and deve­lop­ment. For example, the Presi­dent of Karelia UAS uses elect­ro­nical signa­ture systems and signs his docu­ments when he is on busi­ness trips. Karelia UAS students receive their degree certi­fica­tes online nowa­days, and no paper is needed. Karelia UAS systems are all digitalized.

It was a huge jump from their own tradi­tio­nal univer­sity envi­ron­ment to the highly digi­ta­lized Karelia UAS lear­ning envi­ron­ment. Students are requi­red to have their own laptops and learn how to use Karelia UAS systems, adapt to teac­hers’ teac­hing approac­hes, etc. More impor­tantly, inno­va­tive and crea­tive thin­king is encou­ra­ged among students.

It took the five Uzbek students some time to learn how to use all Karelia UAS systems and join their classes. However, young people learn to adapt quickly. They made it.

The second difficulty the Uzbek students faced was that Finland is a highly-digi­ta­lized society where meetings with public orga­niza­tions like banks, the Digital and Popu­la­tion Data Services Agency, etc. require them to book the meetings online in advance and come to meetings on time. Otabek, one of the students, told us that he was shocked when he disco­ve­red that the Finnish banks in Joensuu do not receive custo­mers with no sche­du­led appoint­ment, and the appoint­ments must be made in advance. On the cont­rary, banks in Uzbe­kis­tan have wider opening hours, and there is no need to make an appoint­ment beforehand.

However, despite the longer process with booking appoint­ments with the bank in Joensuu, all of the students finally got their own appoint­ments and succee­ded in opening their Finnish bank accounts. They also learned how to use the online systems of Finnish banks. They have succee­ded in adap­ting into the Finnish digi­ta­lized society.

The third difficulty lies in the hearts of these young students. They miss home and their fami­lies. Growing up in the loving arms of their dedica­ted parents and surroun­ded by their rela­ti­ves and friends, these Uzbek students have gotten used to their warm and safe circle of family and their own social networks. When they first came to Karelia UAS, they needed to start from the scratch to make their new circles of friends and their social network. In order to ease the home sick­ness, the Uzbek students usually post their acti­vi­ties in Karelia UAS in their own social network chan­nels and receive “likes” from their fami­liar circles of friends and rela­ti­ves back in Uzbe­kis­tan. At the same time, they start joining more outdoor acti­vi­ties here to make new friends.

In addi­tion to having more friends, they have also found it easy or less hierarc­hical to discuss with Karelia teac­hers. They can ask for help when needed. More impor­tantly, they have found their ways to part-time jobs which help to sustain them­sel­ves financially when studying in Finland.

Although the Finnish culture is diffe­rent from the Uzbe­kis­tan culture and the Finnish weather is cold, these five young Uzbek students have realized how warm, nice, kind and profes­sio­nal Finnish people and Karelia UAS staff, in particu­lar, are from the inside.

The warm­ness and kind­ness of Karelia UAS staff helps to strengt­hen these five young students’ belief that Karelia UAS is their right choice. Most of them have decided to conti­nue and complete their inter­na­tio­nal Bachelor’s degree program­mes at Karelia UAS next year.

Life oppor­tu­ni­ties open for coura­geous excel­lence seekers

Where can coura­geous excel­lent seekers start their journey? Is it Finland, and why Finland?

The answers for this simple ques­tion can be found by keen readers in many websi­tes all around the world. Perso­nally, the author of this article spent almost five years of her life, working, studying and doing research in many count­ries ranging from New Zealand in the Sout­hern hemisp­here to Norway and Finland in the Nort­hern hemisp­here. Among many count­ries that she has been to, Finland is the best country in many aspects. She wished that someone nice and kind had told her to “Go to Finland” at the begin­ning of her life path seeking for excel­lences. She did not have to waste five years of her life to find out her final desti­na­tion, Finland.

It is the author’s honor and happi­ness that she can share her own perso­nal excel­lence-seeking journey to the students and every­body who is inte­res­ted in it.

Why Karelia UAS? Our five young, smart students have also found their answers. We, Kare­lians, are so happy for them.

Warm congra­tu­la­tions to our five young, coura­geous, smart Uzbek students for choo­sing their excel­lent life oppor­tu­nity path straight to Finland.

“When there is a will, there is a way.”

Karelia warmly welco­mes all inter­na­tio­nal students to come, study and stay.
For more infor­ma­tion, you can read our website.


Kha Trinh (Katri) Truong, Global Educa­tion Officer, Karelia Univer­sity of Applied Sciences