Episode 16

Building a Community

In this episode, Petra and Jean talk about building a community in Finland. It is not always easy to befriend Finns due to their limited exposure to foreigners; however, both Jean and Petra have successfully made Finnish friends in the past.

Many international students start by living with roommates, which certainly has its challenges. You will need to develop excellent communication skills to make it work! Jean lived with two roommates: a Russian and a Finn. She liked having a Russian roommate because she was able to brush up on her Russian language skills. However, Jean’s roommates did not always meet her standards for cleanliness, so she moved to a studio on Petra’s advice. Petra, on the other hand, has had a very good experience living with roommates. Petra recalls her year living with roommates as the best year of her academic career.

In addition to living with roommates, University of Jyväskylä students have the possibility of living with Finnish family, called a friendship family. Although Petra and Jean had different experiences with this program, they both really enjoyed it; his option allows you to form unique and memorable connections.

There are also student villages in Finland, which offer wonderful opportunities for socialization. Petra and Jean fondly recall their time in student villages and enjoyed meeting interesting people from all over the world. Although many of their friends from this period of time have left Finland after school, they still keep in touch with them. Because Finnish language courses are mandatory for foreign residents not studying in Finland, these courses are also a nice place to find an international community.

There are also opportunities for finding religious communities in Finland. Many churches provide service in different languages. The Finnish population is generally Lutheran, but there are also Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic services. There are a few mosques and buddhist temples as well. In Finland, education leaves religious studies up to individual choice, even among children.  Religious practice is always welcomed, but never enforced.


Friendship Family Program (University of Jyväskylä)