Friend families

“”Best was to learn about a new culture and get to know the student. Our friend student liked our children, so the children were waiting for the visits as well.”

Welcome to take part in the Friend Family Programme of Oulu University of Applied Sciences and Student Union OSAKO! The programme offers local families and international degree students of Oulu UAS a chance to get to know each other and learn about each other’s cultures.

Ystäväperheet

The programme aims at

New round of Friend Family Programme starts in January 2017. Registration for friend families is open until December 11th, 2016.

Contact person:
Secretary of Cultural Affairs Tanja Vallo
Student Union OSAKO
tanja.vallo@osakoweb.fi
+358 50 317 4935

Experiences

Students' experiences

“Best was dinner time with Finnish food. So warm the atmosphere that I felt like home.”

”What I liked the most is when we had lunch and talked together like a family. A real family. That means a lot to a foreign student like me.”

“Best was having new friends and understanding Finnish culture better.”

Families' experiences

”Best was to learn about a new culture and get to know the student. Our friend student liked our children, so the children were waiting for the visits as well.”

”Best was to discuss the cultural differences and features, as well as the politeness of the students.”

“We discussed and cooked and baked together. One of the students went to sauna and the other one played with the kids.”

”Best was to learn about a different culture and get to know the life of someone coming from abroad. It was nice to make trips together and give the student an opportunity to get to know our life. It was great to see how the student liked to watch our kids play and enjoyed being a part of a “normal” Finnish family.”

Information for families

Friend families are a real-life example of what ‘internationalisation at home’ is at its best. Friend families introduce international students to local life, and at the same time get a unique opportunity to broaden their own worldview and learn something new. In best case, taking part in the programme results in unforgettable experiences and lifelong friendships.

What kind of families can participate?

All kinds of families living in or nearby Oulu are welcome to apply for the programme. Definition of family is broad, and there are no specific criteria concerning family’s size or shape. Couples, singles, families with and without children, single parents and pensioners can all be a friend family. What matters is an open and positive attitude and a wish to invite the international student to join family’s activities every now and then. Family should be able to communicate with the student in English, so this is also an excellent chance to brush up the language skills.

Who are the students?

There are approximately 260 international degree students studying in Oulu UAS. Three of our degree programmes are in English: Business Information Technology, International Business and Information Technology. The students taking part in the Friend Family Programme are first or second-year students.

International degree students come from several different countries, represent different religions, and are of different ages. Many of the students come for example from Vietnam, Nepal or China. Exchange students, who stay in Oulu only for one semester or academic year, don’t take part in the progamme. Families and students are matched based on their applications, especially on the basis of their hobbies and other interests.

What can families and students do together?

Families and students can spend time together by doing simple, ordinary things. Many of the international degree students might have never been to a Finnish home before. Picking berries, cooking and baking, visiting a summer house, going to sauna, skiing, ice-skating, swimming in a nearby lake, celebrating Finnish holidays, or just meeting over a cup of coffee are all excellent ways to spend time together. Activities that seem very ordinary to many Finns might be the most interesting to international students. Also the students are encouraged to share their own culture and interests with the friend family.

There is no one right way for families and students to go about spending time together. Family and their friend student discuss together what sort of things they all are interested in, and how often they are prepared to meet.

The friend student might have some habits or customs related to his/her culture or religion which the family should be aware of. It’s also recommended to give some thought to practical matters, such as transportation – especially if the family lives a bit further away. It’s good to keep in mind that for example bus tickets can be a considerable expense when you’re living on a student budget. However, families are not in any way financially responsible for the students. All these things can be discussed openly to avoid any possible problems. Mutual learning is, after all, one of the greatest benefits of the programme.

Families will be invited to an introductory meeting to discuss the practicalities and good practices of Friend Family Programme.  Families are also encouraged to read the instructions given to students.

Information for students

With a friend family student gets to know the local life and Finnish culture. Also the student is expected to share his/her own culture and interest with the family.

Friend Family Programme is intended for the first and second-year international degree students of Oulu UAS. Unfortunately exchange students cannot apply for the programme. Students are not expected to speak Finnish – however, this is an excellent chance to practice it.

Families and students are matched on the basis of their applications. Special attention is paid to common hobbies and interests. Wishes concerning the family will be taken into consideration as well as possible, but all wishes cannot necessarily be met, and all students cannot be guaranteed a friend family.

It is good to notice that not all families are traditional nuclear families. There are no specific criteria concerning family’s size or shape. Couples, singles, families with and without children, single parents and pensioners can all be friend families.

What can students and friend families do together?

Every family is different, and not all students are going to do the same things with their friend families. Families are not required to organize trips or other big-scale activities. Many times the ordinary, simple things of everyday life are the ones that can teach you most about the local life and Finnish culture. It is also good to think in advance what sort of things you could share with the family.

There is no one right way for the families and students to go about spending time together. Discuss what sort of things you all are interested in, and how often you are prepared to meet. The most important thing is that both the student and the family are genuinely interested in getting to know each other and respect the shared time by sticking to agreed plans and by being on time. Friends or anyone else cannot be invited to join the activities, unless separately agreed with the family.

Please notice, that your friend family doesn’t necessarily know that much about your culture or, for example, about your religion. It is good to discuss things openly in advance to avoid any possible problems. Mutual learning is, after all, one of the greatest benefits of the programme.

Selected students will be invited to an introductory meeting to discuss the practicalities and good practices of Friend Family Programme. Students are also encouraged to read the instructions given to families.

Join the programme

Both families and students fill in an application. Families and students are matched based on these applications, especially on the basis of their hobbies and other interests. Family’s wishes regarding the student will be taken into consideration as well as possible, but all wishes cannot necessarily be met. If there is a staff member of Oulu UAS in the family, friend student will be selected from another campus of Oulu UAS.

Staff members can fill in the application in Heimo. Others can print the form below and post it to Tanja Vallo / Opiskelijakunta OSAKO, Kajaanintie 32 D 61, 90130 Oulu. You can also send the form via email to tanja.vallo(a)osakoweb.fi, and take the signed paper version with you to the introductory meeting.

New round of Friend Family Programme starts in January and ends in August 2017. Registration for friend families is open until December 11th, 2016. Families and students will be matched right after the application period ends, and the coordinator will contact everyone personally in December.

Application for friend families

Principles of the Friend Family Programme

Friend Family Programme is coordinated by Oulu University of Applied Sciences (Oulu UAS) and Student Union of Oulu UAS (OSAKO). The programme is meant for the international degree students of Oulu UAS and for families living in or nearby Oulu. The purpose of these principles is to ensure that everyone understands their role in the Friend Family Programme.

Families and international degree students are matched on the basis of their applications. Especially wishes, hobbies, and other interests are taken into consideration. All wishes cannot necessarily be met, and all students cannot be guaranteed a friend family. Families and students selected to the programme are invited to an introductory meeting, after which they continue the programme independently.

Oulu UAS and OSAKO are not responsible for the families or students participating in the Friend Family Programme. All activities are considered as free-time, and the participants are not insured by Oulu UAS or OSAKO. Both families and students must make sure that no one is injured or harmed in any way. The well-being, safety and cultural differences of both parties must be considered in all activities.

Families and students plan and agree together how often they meet and what they do together. Active participation and genuine interest towards each other and each other’s cultures is expected from both parties.

Families are not in any way financially responsible for the students and are not responsible for covering any expenses students might have due to taking part in the programme. However, families should be aware that students might not be able to invest in the programme financially.

It is not on the responsibility of families to arrange students’ housing, banking, residence permit or other similar matters. Students don’t have a responsibility to work for their friend family (e.g. babysitting, house work).

Families and students are expected to commit to the Friend Family Programme until August 2017. However, the programme is based on voluntary participation. If a family or student wants to leave the programme or encounters problems, the programme coordinator should be informed immediately. Oulu UAS and OSAKO have the right to remove a family or a student from the Friend Family Programme.

Families and students are encouraged to openly discuss their expectations and possibilities concerning the programme.