Oct 18, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

So you're thinking of studying abroad, but you want to venture off the beaten path? We’ve got one word for you: Finland. It may not be large in size when compared to other countries, but it is large on benefits for international students. Read on for a roundup of five reasons to consider the ‘Land of the Thousand Lakes’ (187,888 lakes in fact!) as your international study destination, along with one school offering access to everything Finland has to offer.

1. It boasts a top-notch education system.

Finland recently claimed the #14 spot on US News & World Report’s “Best Countries for Education” ranking. In fact, such is its international esteem that it is held as a model by other nations, including the US. In addition to being home to many high-quality higher education institutions, Finland prioritizes hands-on learning, research, and innovation aimed at improving quality of life.

Lastly, Finland’s colleges and universities offer hundreds of English-taught programs -- meaning whatever you are thinking of studying, there is an option available for you.

2. It’s an exceptional deal.

Not only does Finland offer free tuition to all of its citizens, but also to citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland. While students from outside of these areas do have to pay fees, there are some exceptions -- including if you opt to study in Finnish or Swedish.

Additionally, there are many scholarship options for international students in Finland, including merit-based awards which may offer anything from percentage-based discounts to total fee waivers.

3. Its scenery is outstanding.

While your classes will likely be your primary focus while you are studying abroad, it’s also about the experience. And in this respect, Finland is one of the best, especially when it comes to its scenery.

"One of the main draws to Finland is its thousands of lakes offering fishing and boating. Another involves the tradition of staying in rustic, lakeside cottages far out in the country. This creates the ultimate holiday destination for isolation, relaxation, as well as easy access to ski resorts. The surrounding Baltic Sea and archipelagos offer the same experience," Culture Trip explained as it declared Finland a bucket list destination

Thirty-nine national parks, diverse architecture, and incredible landscapes round out the list of reasons why Finland is the place to be and see.

4. It has very high English proficiency.

As Finland’s unofficial third language, most Finns speak it fluently. In fact, Finland is a perennial top finisher on EF’s English Proficiency Index, and joins a handful of other countries qualifying in the ‘very high’ category for English proficiency.

But English proficiency does not exist in a vacuum. According to the World Bank, there’s a link between English proficiency and prosperity, quality of life, progressiveness, innovation, and tech exports.

5. Finland shines in many other areas, as well.

According to Statistics Finland, "The population of Finland makes up just 0.07 per cent of the world's population and its area as much of the total world area. But even a small country can jump to the top of the world, and this is what Finland has done: in international country comparisons of positive things Finland is often among the top countries next to other Nordic countries."

Finland’s list of accolades include being the most stable country in the world, the freest country in the world, and the safest country in the world. It has also been heralded for having the world’s best governance, its most independent judicial system, and the least amount of organized crime. Behind Norwegians and Icelanders, meanwhile, Finns feel the second least insecure in the world. This may explain why it has been declared the best country in the world in comparisons of human wellbeing, as well as the country with the happiest, most satisfied residents.

And that’s just a sample. The complete list of accolades Finland has earned spans measures of society, satisfaction and trust, equality, the environment, education and human capital, information society and competitiveness, and health.

So if you are now sold on Finland, you may be wondering where to go. Look no further than the University of Helsinki. Not only does this multidisciplinary research university offer access to everything Finland has to offer, but it is also Finland’s oldest and largest institution of academic education, and is ranked in the top one percent of the world’s universities. Situated in the safe, modern and scenic seaside city of Helsinki -- recognized globally for its public transport, architecture, green areas, and livability – the university is celebrated for its superiority in teaching, research, and innovation. It offers a wide variety of Finnish, Swedish, and English language degree programs for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral students.

For more information on the University of Helsinki and its master’s degree programs, read here. 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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