Interesting memories,  University of Helsinki


I visited the Faculty of Science of the University of Helsinki with the Foreign Student Advisor Mrs. Helena Allahwerdi in August 1970. I had short meetings with the head of the biochemistry department, Professor Jorma Erkama, and the head of the chemistry department, Professor Osmo Mäkitie, and asked about the possibility to continue my studies at Helsinki University.

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Both professors told to me: “Your English sounds sufficient, “if you continue your basic sciences studies for another semester at Hacettepe University and get good grades, then you can get the possibility to transfer here. “You need to send us a study transcript in English, showing the courses you attended and the grades you got!”I also had applied to a new medical school that Hacettepe University Rector İhsan Doğramacı established in Kayseri. I was expecting news from there latest in the next spring.


One day, while walking with my classmates from Hacettepe University Campus towards Ulus, we visited the newly established Private Pharmacy and Private Dentistry Faculties above Hergele Square. We said that we studied the second year at Hacettepe Biology.

We have been told that we can transfer from Hacettepe after the New Year as we study Basic Sciences in both schools. They also said that the tuition fee could be paid in installments and gave us the application forms. Dentistry was not my field of interest, the clinical pharmacy might be of interest to me, but since the University of Helsinki was in my mind, I did not consider applying to these private schools.

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I remember one of my friends from Hacettepe attended the Faculty of Pharmacy, the other to the Faculty of Dentistry. Ironically, these private faculties would be nationalized by the state and connected to Ankara University after two years, and students would not have to pay tuition fees anymore!


I was listening carefully to Mathematics, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry lectures and studying for the exams Helsinki in my mind! As a result, my grades were pretty good. I talked to our head of department, Professor Altan Günalp, and asked him his opinion.

”Your exam results look rather good. We will give you a detailed transcript in English. They might probably accept you to the University of Helsinki. If you ask my opinion: I would go if I were you”, and added: “State universities in Europe are free, but living expenses are high. You’d better get a scholarship or a study loan ”.

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At the end of the year, I sent the transcript I received from Hacettepe University with the application I filled to Helsinki. A month later, I received a large yellow envelope from Finland! It was from the Faculty of Mathematics and Science of the University of Helsinki and stated that I was accepted to the second year of the Faculty of Chemistry beginning from March 1971! I became extremely glad!

There was no mention of the scholarship in the letter, but the envelope included  Finnish State Student Authority’s application for student support and forms for the study loan from the Finnish banks to be filled when in Helsinki.

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In February I traveled to Finland and started my studies at the University of Helsinki.  Lectures were mostly in Finnish, but the books were in English. I was the only foreign student in the class and my fellow students were friendly and helpful! Teachers told me they would arrange examinations for me in English.  

I forwarded student loan and financial aid applications to the State Student Support Office. I became glad when my applications were accepted and confirmed in a couple of weeks by Votk, a State student support agency.

I would receive a little amount of study support and a loan for study with low interest. As soon as I opened a bank account and received the money to my account, I bought expensive English and American books for the chemistry department of the University.  


After a month I moved to Finland, in late March I received good but at the same time sad news from Hacettepe University. My name was on the list of accepted transfer students of the newly established University in Kayseri and I had to go there and register myself in the Faculty of Medicine within a week.

I became so happy that I was accepted to the medical school which was my dream since my childhood. At the same time, I became so sad I couldn’t stop my studies I started a month ago at Helsinki University return to Turkey within a week! I knew I could regret this sometime in my life! This was a twist of fate too!

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I shared an apartment with two Finnish students at one of the Student Appartments at Kirstinmäki, Espoo, and stayed there one year. Then I moved to a pretty modest room from downstairs of a car park on the beautiful island of Lauttasaari, 5 km west of Helsinki centrum. My close friend Mr. Kasim once drove me home in his car and saw my place under the garage, he was shocked! He said he owns a few flats in Helsinki and would rent me one of them as soon as a tenant moves away.


So next autumn, I moved downtown to his 1+1 flat on Fleminginkatu of Kallio district. After a couple of months, a Turkish cook, Naim moved to the flat too. He was an easy-going friendly man, but he used to smoke heavily when he came from work in the evenings. I felt uncomfortable under smoke because we couldn’t open the window due to the cold winter.

I attended Finnish for foreigners courses and I could speak and speak Finnish well and could pass the exams in Finnish in two years. Occasionally I even started working as a translator.

The Faculty of Chemistry Department moved from Hallituskatu to Vuorikatu in Kaisaniemi. They were planning to move their science faculties to Viikki outside the city a few years later. I had in mind to graduate before the school moved out of town.

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Last two years of my studies at university I worked a year as a laboratory assistant at the Salmisaari Power plant of City Electric Company and another year as a guide and sales representative at a travel agency called Ihannematkat-Ideal Tours in Helsinki.

I completed all the necessary courses, exams, and laboratory studies for my graduate degree. My thesis on borax and boric acid was accepted, and finally, I graduated as a chemist at the end of 1977 with a Bachelor of Sciences degree from the University of Helsinki.

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