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Aalto Squadcast podcasters help young people to make informed decisions about their future

Aalto Squad student ambassadors wanted to give peer support through open and honest dialogue. Now they share their stories, personal struggles and what helps them to cope in tough times.
Five students posing in a mini podcast studio at Aalto University
On the left side from top: Olga Morozova, Beatriz Glaser and Anubhuti Goel. On the right: Owein Iveson and Bhattarabhop Viriyaroj. Photo: Owein Iveson

Launched last autumn, Aalto Squadcast shares the experiences of international students at Aalto University. The podcast hosts, Owein Iveson, Bhattarabhop Viriyaroj, Anubhuti Goel, Labiba Abdul, Beatriz Glaser, Olga Morozova, Milica Stefanović and Anastasiia Ivanova wanted to provide casual conversations about their personal journeys as students and to help others navigate the struggles they may have when moving abroad to study. They were also excited to learn about podcast production and the process of creating content from scratch. Iveson, Viriyaroj, Goel, Abdul, Glaser, Morozova, Stefanović and Ivanova met while working as Aalto Squad student ambassadors. 

‘The idea of starting a podcast was floating around for quite a while. I think listening to students’ experiences and hearing their voices could form a deeper connection,’ Goel reflects.

In the first season, the hosts take you on a journey through their studies at Aalto University. They start from receiving the admissions letter, and guide the listener through the orientation week, helping to understand the buzz at the university. The student life is reflected on from various angles, covering topics like coursework, housing, finances, hobbies, student associations, events, and social life.

Five Aalto Squadcast podcasters posing in front of a whiteboard and laughing.
From the left: In the back Owein Iveson, Olga Morozova and Bhattarabhop Viriyaroj. In the front Beatriz Glaser and Anubhuti Goel. Photo: Owein Iveson

‘As an international applicant, you would like to get a package of important information to help you prepare for starting the studies, such as housing, banking, transportation, and other practicalities,’ Viriyaroj explains.

‘We cover a little bit of everything, trying to give an overall idea of what it’s like to be an Aalto student in Finland. We focus on our own, real-life experiences,’ adds Goel.

Not a walk in the park

The podcasters themselves had their concerns when they made the decision to move to another country for studies. Now they want to help people in the same situation to make informed decisions about their future.

’Initially, I had concerns about the expenses. Finland is expensive especially in comparison to the United Kingdom where I’m from,’ Iveson says.

‘I had a good job in my field which I left behind, and that meant I didn’t have a steady income anymore. But I really wanted to pursue my higher education and Aalto University seemed like a good opportunity,’ says Goel.

Goel also mentions that she was worried about the difficulty of the courses. However, she soon realised that the courses are designed to build on the fundamentals, and with regular work, they become manageable. She was pleasantly surprised by the lack of hierarchy in the relationship between teachers and students. 

‘I did not expect the teachers to be this supportive. The relationship with them is very casual and they are quite approachable,’ Goel continues.

While student life can be exciting, it is not always a walk in the park. The students agree that finding a balance in life while pursuing a demanding degree is the biggest challenge. Adapting to a new culture and climate, managing studies, and taking care of practical matters like banking and housing can be overwhelming. And let's not forget the importance of having a rich social life, which adds another layer of complexity to everyday hustle and bustle.

Looking beyond the student life, the podcasters also express concerns about employment opportunities and the possibility of staying in Finland after graduation. For some of them, this is an issue yet to be figured out. Breaking into the industry as an international graduate without fluent Finnish language skills can be a tough nut to crack.

Students taking a selfie outside on campus in Autumn
From the left: Labiba Abdul, Owein Iveson and Beatriz Glaser. Photo: Aalto University / Ari Toivonen

Friends are the lifeline in turbulent times

Despite the occasional downturns, the journey to this point has been transformative for the students. Goel, for example, says that her thoughts about her future have changed slightly over the past years. Viriyaroj feels more confident and empowered, and he has learned how to contribute to society at a whole new level.

One thing that the podcasters can agree on is the power of the community. Classmates and friends have been a source of support and a lifeline during tough times. 

’I find it quite fascinating how easy it is to make friends here, regardless of the event. Whether it’s a random party, some kind of a student club gathering, or even when you’re doing your laundry, creating new friendships is an extremely low threshold occurrence,’ says Abdul.

‘I have previous experiences of home sickness but great friends at the university have made Finland my new home,’ Iveson sums up.

As the first season of Aalto Squadcast nears its end, there are still a few episodes to be published this spring. The first season has been venturing into the new, and now the focus shifts to the possibility of producing a new season.

Start listening to the Aalto Squadcast now! You can also chat with the student ambassadors on Unibuddy

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