Alumni – Suchetana De Storvik


Suchetana De Storvik, Research coordinator and post-doc researcher

I am Suchetana De Storvik, currently working as a research coordinator and also doing research in the field of clinical nutrition at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF), Kuopio campus. I was born and brought up in Kolkata, one of the biggest cities in India. The decision to come to Finland in 2013 to pursue my master’s degree in General Toxicology is undoubtedly one of the most important ones of my life. On being accepted in the program, I looked forward to being taught by some of the renowned experts of the field, in a country known for excellent education system. However, I could not imagine how much I would learn and develop both personally and professionally by the time I would complete my degree in 2015. After obtaining my master’s degree in General Toxicology, I continued as a PhD candidate in the School of Pharmacy on “ethics of genotype disclosure”. I defended in June 2021 and have continued working at the UEF. 

Enthusiastic professors and teachers 

Before coming to Finland, I studied dentistry in India and had been practicing there for a couple of years. The first thing I noticed as a student in UEF was the ease with which I could approach the professors and how enthusiastic they had always been in discussing science with us “youngsters”. They made sure to make us feel that we are in the same journey of learning and understanding. This encouraged me a lot to persevere with my studies and later, continue in academia. Also, all the teachers were patient and tried to provide support whenever needed. The common practice of referring the professors and the teachers by their first names surprised me to no end. It was also refreshing to hear the teachers wishing a nice weekend at the conclusion of Friday classes, reminding that enjoying life outside studying was also important and expected.  

Students’ well-being 

As I was coming from a very different education system, I was inevitably presented with some challenges. Before coming to Finland, I was used to adapt to and follow rigid study and exam routines, which often failed to consider the needs of the students and ended-up undermining their well-being. In contrast, students in Finland are expected to be independent and take responsibility in making their own study choices, for example, scheduling their own studies and determining which courses to take as “alternatives”. This difference initially did create a little stress in me. However, I soon started to enjoy and appreciate the freedom and flexibility offered by the Finnish education system. Another challenge in the beginning of my studies was the use of digital tools to register for courses and exams, or access study materials. However, with the support from staffs and friends, the tools actually turned out to be very helpful. 

I also realized how students’ well-being are prioritized here when I heard that more than one chances were given to clear an exam, which was unbelievable to me. Moreover, it would not be marked in the transcripts whether one passes in the first attempt or in retakes. Students’ opinions were also highly encouraged and listened to. I still remember my surprise (a pleasant one!) when the teacher came and asked for my thoughts on the class. I liked that feedbacks were collected regularly for almost all the courses. We were encouraged to participate in seminars and conferences to keep our knowledge up-to-date and help in figuring future career paths. The availability of discounts for becoming student-members of societies was quite helpful. I was also overjoyed when I came to know that the lectures in the university are open for all. Consequently, I could listen to the lectures by some of the experts in their fields even outside my scheduled courses. 

International friends 

Our program being an international one, provided us with the opportunity to have batchmates from different countries with varied cultural and educational backgrounds. Sharing of ideas and knowledge with them, particularly during the group works, enabled me to learn a topic more comprehensively while still having fun. Our interactions extended beyond the classroom. The time we spent together helped me in knowing about Finnish and several other cultures, which I had only read about in books or watched in movies. Whether it was picking berries, going for sauna or enjoying an evening together with music and food, every occasion felt special. We shared our thoughts and realized that underneath the differences, we actually share more similarities! I am glad that the friends I made during my master’s studies have continued to remain in my life, and our bonds have only strengthened over time. 

Kuopio is my home 

When I first came to Kuopio from Kolkata, in the autumn of 2013, I was taken aback by its amazingly beautiful nature and the overall calmness. Till then I was used to the tropical climate of India and the opportunity to experience snow for the first time was extremely exciting! Of course, the cold and dark Finnish winter continues to be challenging sometimes, however, the burst of colors during summer and autumn more than makes up for it! It also helps that I can share my frustration about Finnish winter with foreigners and Finns alike! It has been more than nine years that I am living in Kuopio, and it is my home now. People here are considerate, helpful and respectful. I have made some amazing friends and also found my husband here. I always feel grateful for the opportunity I was given to come and study in the Master’s Degree Program in General Toxicology, which changed my life forever.