Coming to Finland was not originally the plan of Obada Alzghool, 25, but now he is determined to build his future here, pursuing his passion in the pharmaceutical industry.

Having studied pharmacy in his home country, Jordan, Alzghool came to Finland in August 2015 to study in the Master´s Degree Programme in Drug Discovery and Development at the University of Turku. The year 2015 was the first time that the programme was conducted in English – previously, it had existed only in Finnish.

Alzghool had been looking at different options to study abroad and was considering the United Kingdom as his primary option.

– Nordic countries are not a particularly popular destination for students in Jordan but when I searched for information on Master’s studies in different countries, I became excited over the Drug Discovery and Development programme and that eventually brought me to Finland.

Desire and consistency play a key role in job search

Alzghool is very satisfied with his studies and the quality of training in Turku. He graduated in the summer of 2016 and one of the greatest decisions for him after that has been between pursuing a PhD and finding employment in a company. He has been applying actively for both but now feels that doctoral studies would suit him better. Especially the university staff and course coordinators have been very helpful with career questions.

– The pharmaceutical industry is very competitive and it is difficult for fresh graduates to find employment. When looking for a job, I believe that the two most important qualities are desire and consistency.

Alzghool is particularly interested in Alzheimer’s disease and its treatment. He would like to work in this area and feels that a PhD would allow him to follow his passion, contributing to an important cause.

Tackling the cultural shock pays off

Alzghool would like to share his advice to any new international students coming to Finland. Firstly, he finds it important to learn about the culture in advance, as knowledge and cultural awareness facilitate integration.

– When I came here, adapting felt difficult at first. There are significant cultural differences between Jordan and Finland. However, now Turku is my home. There is a space for me in the society and an opportunity to fulfil my potential.

Secondly, Alzghool advises new students not to overthink or become overwhelmed. It is best to let things happen, to enjoy new experiences and to be open-minded. Alzghool also strongly recommends learning Finnish. He does not speak Finnish yet himself but intends to learn and believes it will also be an asset when looking for employment in Finland.  

– One more piece of advice for new students: don’t forget to get yourself student overalls, Alzghool adds.

Text and photo: Aino Koivisto