Learning Finnish is an asset

Jean Louis, BEE

“Learning Finnish is surely an asset to get integrated into the Finnish community.”

After graduation as a Bachelor, Jean was looking for a Master’s degree in his field of expertise, the renewable energy, and chose the University of Oulu. Jean enjoys the support that the students get in the University of Oulu: “I had a very good tutor who introduced me to the guild system allowing me to get to know a lot of other students. Also, our student guild has a Finnish student that is dedicated to the international students of our department. Even in our Master’s programme there is a student advisor who helps us with any problems we could be facing during our studies; she’s always there to help. Services provided to the students, such as the accommodation or health care services are well organized and very convenient. PSOAS (Student Housing Foundation of Northern Finland) helps you any time and the service for lost keys is available 24/7. The health care service is very easy to use because it’s right next to the University.”

During his studies Jean has come to appreciate the flexibility of the academic system: “The Finnish system allows choosing any topics that interest us and including them to our studies. This is very useful because if some lectures don’t fit the profile of your study, you can replace them with more interesting courses. The range of courses offered is quite wide and even if some courses are not offered by the university, it’s possible to take them with a partner university.”

Even though almost everybody speaks English, Jean has gotten to know Finnish language and culture as well. “Once I got in the university, I’ve had an opportunity to learn the basics of Finnish language in order not to get lost in the city for instance. It is very useful, especially when you don’t understand a word that’s written on the direction board. Learning Finnish is surely an asset to get integrated into the Finnish community; even though Finns say that it's okay if you don’t speak Finnish, it is really appreciated! As a foreigner, it really helps if you know Finnish students because they will introduce you to activities that are not so known by the foreigners such as Kyykkä (an ancient Finnish game) or ski trips that are organized by different student associations. Knowing Finns is also the best way to learn about Finland because they can explain the Finnish history and make you understand the relationship that Finns have with their neighbors, especially Russians and Swedes. Also, the summer cottage tradition that they have in Finland can really be experienced only if you know Finns. ”

Last updated: 15.10.2013