What’s it like studying in the happiest country in the world? | Top Universities

What’s it like studying in the happiest country in the world?

By Aisha K

Updated July 27, 2022 Updated July 27, 2022

Choosing where to study abroad can be one of the most exciting decisions you might ever make. Whether you want to brush up on your language skills in Europe or make the most of backpacking across Asia, the world is truly your oyster – but what about countries that have been rated as the happiest in the world?  

The World Happiness Report, published by a United Nations agency, uses global survey data to report how people evaluate their own lives in more than 150 countries worldwide. Key variables that contribute to explaining life evaluations include generosity, social support, health life expectancy and freedom to make life choices.   

Top 10 happiest countries in the world, according to the World Happiness Report 2022 



Highest-ranked university 


University of Helsinki 


University of Copenhagen 




ETH Zurich 


University of Amsterdam 




KTH Royal Institute of Technology 


University of Oslo 


The Hebrew University of Jerusalem 


New Zealand 

University of Auckland 

With Finland being ranked as number one on the list, we asked international students from Aalto University and the University of Turku to share their experiences of what it’s like to study in the world’s most joyful nation. 

A healthy work-life balance

Jonathan Murphy, an alumnus of the University of Turku

Jonathan Murphy, an alumnus of the University of Turku, who decided to stay in Finland after graduating, says the work-life balance makes a positive difference to daily life. “My experience in Finland so far has been ‘work hard, relax hard’. Work and studies are taken seriously, but there is always time for family, holidays and other interests away from the office.”  

The beauty of Finnish landscape 

Hilyah Audah, a student at the University of Turku

Damilya Zhaugasheva, a second-year student at Aalto University who is originally from Kazakhstan, said: “I am a big fan of a Finnish nature and its close proximity to urban areas. After classes I usually take a walk in the neighbourhood. It only takes five minutes and I am already in a small forest or next to the sea with a beautiful scenery.” 

It’s clear that the picturesque landscape extends to other parts of the country, including Turku. Jonathan said: “I really enjoy the pace of life in Finland as well as the proximity to nature – I live next to a forest just a 10-minute drive outside the city centre.  

“Coming from a smaller town in England, Turku is a perfect-sized city. It is not as busy or expensive as Helsinki, it is the undisputed food capital of Finland and has breath-taking archipelago on your doorstep.”  

Benefits of the Finnish system  

Jonathan Murphy, an alumnus of the University of Turku

So what is it about the Finnish system that makes the country the happiest in the world? Hilyah Audah, a master’s student at the University of Turku, studying human neuroscience, said: “I think it’s a combination of factors. First the country’s infrastructure, which supports all your basic needs, so you don’t have to struggle just to survive and put food on the table.  

“Finland has very good public transportation, healthcare, social services, and it’s even easy doing your taxes here! I also love how clean the air here is, in comparison to Jakarta where I live in Indonesia.” 

In terms of other benefits, Jonathan mentions the benefits of raising a family in Finland. “With generous parental leave and low day care costs, Finland is a great place to raise a family, and as a new parent is it reassuring to know that having a child will not break the bank. You also get the famous ‘baby box’ for free!”  

Cultural aspects 

Damilya Zhaugasheva, a student at Aalto University

With Finland being the sixth country that Hilyah has lived in, one of the biggest cultural differences she’s noticed is that people trust each other to be honest and they’re respectful of others.  

“It’s the little things. I like the fact that you can leave your laptop unattended at the library, or if you dropped your wallet somewhere it will probably still be there, or someone would have picked it up and tried to find you to return it.”  

“There’s also the concept of Finnish sisu, which I guess put simply is determination, perseverance and resilience. Overall, I think the system, culture, and mindset results in less individual stress, allowing people to focus on other things that matter to them and make them happy.” 

Reflecting on the unique Nordic lifestyle that Finland embodies, Damilya said: “Most Finnish people are family oriented. They enjoy a slow living lifestyle and cherish every moment of their life.”  

Happiest memory?  

Jonathan Murphy, an alumnus of the University of Turku

Given Finland’s status as the happiest country in the world, we asked our interviewees to share their happiest memory of studying in Finland. Here’s what they had to say: 

Hilyah: “There are so many to choose from! But if I had to pick, my best memory at the University of Turku is when my fellow Neurds (Neuroscience nerds) and I did a riverside barbeque. We had good weather, good food and good company.  

“I made kebab skewers, French fries, and a chickpea salad with cream cheese. One of our friends put on a fire performance for us, which was very cool. Afterwards we went to a friend’s apartment and just hung out there eating cookie dough. It was a perfect day!” 

Jonathan: “As an international student ambassador, I was invited to participate in the University of Turku’s 99th anniversary celebrations. It was a privilege to be involved and to represent international students, who were considered an important part of the institution’s history – and future. The afterparty wasn’t bad either!” 

Damilya: “During my first year of university, I took a course called Digital Thinking and Electronic Prototyping. We were given a task where we had to come up with an idea of a product that would be beneficial to society.  

“At first, it seemed like an uphill battle, making something from scratch. But after a while, when things started to work out as planned and the final result exceeded my most optimistic expectations, I felt like there was nothing I couldn’t do, learn or master.” 

This article was originally published in July 2022 .

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Written by

Aisha is Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, creating and publishing a wide range of articles for an international student audience. A native Londoner, Aisha graduated from the London School of Economics with a degree in Philosophy and has previously worked in the civil service. 

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