– Football and I have a special relationship, says Betty Alemu, researcher in the Department of Sport Sciences at the University of Bern. In her dissertation, Betty Alemu studied women who arrived in Switzerland from Ethiopia and sport as part of their social relations and integration process. She has personal experience of this, as Switzerland is the fifth country, she has lived in. Finland and University Jyväskylä is also familiar and dear to her.

Betty Alemu has played football since she was a little girl. When she played, she felt a sense of freedom and that she could be herself in the game. Through football, Betty also found many like-minded friends. The experience was so powerful that it developed into the subject of a dissertation.

Now Betty is visiting Finland and Jyväskylä. It’s a pleasant visit, as she has a master’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Jyväskylä. She studied in the international master’s degree Programme of Responsible Management and Business of Sport (RESPO) which is implemented by the University of Jyväskylä’s Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences and the School of Business and Economics.

The RESPO programme will provide graduates with the in-depth knowledge and skills to plan and implement strategic and tactical actions in managerial and expert roles related to leadership in today’s sporting society. The core of the training is to understand the aspects and objectives of sport management and business in different types of sport organizations and to apply the principles of accountability and ethical thinking.

Betty Alemu was doing the third year of bachelor’s studies in the USA when she started considering options to continue higher education leaning towards connecting education in business and management with her passion for sports.

“My childhood best friend at the time was studying in Vaasa and told me wonderful stories about the quality of Finnish education, affordability, and Finnish culture. After extensive research on Finland, I started to look into master’s programs and stumbled on the international master’s program at the University of Jyväskylä at the time called Sports Management and Health Promotion in the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences.”

She decided to apply for the master’s program. Betty says that she had an excellent interview process with Dr. Hanna Vehmas and Dr. Antti Laine. – I was convinced it was the right opportunity for me to explore.

The university and faculty provided much support. That made Betty Alemu feel welcome and cared for. – I loved how international students are supported from the minute of their acceptance to study at the University of Jyväskylä—being assigned tutors who served as a mentor in the preparation for arriving in Finland, settling in, and starting our university journey, she explains.

“I loved every minute of being on campus and all the occasions from orientation week to the final day of graduation. I really enjoyed the international and faculty social events that helped us get to know the city of Jyväskylä, the university, and the student group. I really love how friendly and welcoming everyone was. Most importantly I loved the international diversity and dynamic of the students and faculty. “

International sports faculty-student group impressed Betty. She found it to be unique: young and talented students from all around the world who enjoyed learning with each other and sharing adventures. – Devoted and loving teachers who made me feel like the faculty was my second home, Betty says with a smile.

“I miss the friends I made while studying at JYU whom I am fortunate to still be in touch. I miss the beautiful Finnish summer, nature, lakes, and even the snow. I miss the sauna and lake swimming life. I miss the Finnish humor and social interactions. I miss the sense of community and support we have created in the student apartments and the endless adventures along the way. And of course, the beautiful northern lights.“

Recalling her student days in Jyväskylä, Betty says that she was surprised by how beautiful urban planning can be. In Jyväskylä and Finland in general she was surprised at how well the city and nature living was put together. – I love how easily accessible nature was and the love and respect that the community has for it. I enjoyed endless memories of the outdoors as a result of it.

“I was also surprised by the power of student involvement in providing wonderful learning experiences but also living experiences within the universities also in the city of Jyväskylä and in Finland in general. I was not surprised but more impressed by the close relationship students and faculty have.”

Betty has tips for those considering applying to study in University of Jyväskylä. She encourages everyone to give themself an opportunity to live and study in the most well-rounded environment you could possibly find. – Explore the Finnish nature don’t be discouraged to get out of your comfort and explore a wonderful education system and culture that can make your higher education unique.

“Enjoy studying alongside students who come from different sides of the world and walk life. Most importantly, don’t be scared to go out and get lost in searching for memorable adventures in Finnish culture, food, nature, and adventurers!”



Betty met some of favorite JYU teachers while at a conference in Norway.

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