Last modified 15.3.2011 at 13:22
Ordinary things upside down
Text: Susanna Siironen Photos: Milan Kolarovic
Coming to a foreign country is always a bit shocking. Customs are always a bit different than in the home country and everyday matters may appear to be upside down. So what kind of things you should be prepared for when you are coming to Finland.
International Relations Officer Sami Niemelä deals with exchange students’ issues almost everyday. There are lots of small details which are strange for exchange students.
– The Finnish way of taking shoes off when you go to indoors is odd for foreign students, Sami gives an example.
Sami says that Finnish house construction is a bit different than in other countries and that causes sometimes problems. Finnish water taps arouse wonder among exchange students. In Finland we do not have separate taps for hot and cold water. There is only one tap.
– Students wonder how you can turn the water tap on and how you can fiddle temperature, Sami explains.
Czech exchange student Honza Javorek has faced up to same snag.
– Your taps in kitchens and bathrooms are totally different than in my home country, he laughs.
Doors which opens outwards and a sauna almost in every house are odd things, too.
– You have saunas everywhere. In my country it is something special, something like "to go to a cinema" or "to go to the gym". For you the sauna is an extraordinary thing, Honza says.
He has also noticed that wood is a common building material in Finland.
Cold, colder, Finland
Finland is a cold place. This is a fact that every exchange student knows before they come to Oulu. Still it is always such a surprise that in fact it really is cold here. Students from warm countries might come here in the middle of winter wearing nothing but shorts and a t-shirt.
– Here in Finland you have extreme temperatures. It was easy for me to get used to this, after some days it was no problem for me to handle -20°C temperatures. But it was bigger of a problem for my French roommate, Honza laughs.
Still Honza thinks that a cold temperature is not a bad thing. Even the period of darkness can be handled, because here it is a real winter.
– I love your winter and I hate ours. Your winter means temperature like -5°C to -10°C and snow and frost and snowmen and so on. Our winter means dirty brown snow in the streets in the cities and absurd temperatures like 0°C.
Relax at campus
Planning Officer Anna Kolehmainen from the School of Business and Information Management says that many students have mentioned about Finnish low hierarchy and relaxed atmosphere.
– Students have said that the atmosphere between teachers and students is very relaxed so you feel like being on the same level.
That can appear to be strange for some of the exchange students who come from a country where hierarchy is higher and there is a chasm between students and teachers.
– One student was very happy about teachers and students’ relationship. He said that he always knew that he could ask the teachers about anything, and the teachers had always time and they were very supportive.
Anna mentions also that some of the students were surprised of Finland’s high level of technology. For example there are brilliant facilities in Oulu University of Applied Sciences. There are several computer rooms and students may use school’s equipment freely on campus.
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