Episode 45

PhD in Finland & Connection between Finland and Japan

This week, Jean sat down to chat with Karina, a PhD student of Applied Linguistics at the University of Jyväskylä. Originally from Japan, Karina began her upper secondary education in Australia. There, she experienced quite a bit of culture shock as a result of the louder, more direct Australian culture. In Finland, Karina once again feels at home.

While looking into possible research environments for her PhD research, Karina flew to Finland to establish research contacts. Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä, likely impressed by her initiative, offered to help her develop a research plan. With the help of university researchers and a supportive mother, Karina was eventually offered a spot at the university.

After a quick and stressful residence permit application process, Karina arrived at the University of Jyväskylä. She began her program without funding, but was awarded a scholarship that funded her degree after a semester of hard work.

You might have heard about the supposed cultural connection between Finland and Japan. During her time in Finland, Karina has noticed a few behavioral similarities that make Finland an enjoyable and somewhat familiar place to live.

“I’ve never felt uncomfortable living in Finland,” she said. “I think it is because we are quiet. We don’t like to argue. We want to harmonize and try to listen to what others are saying.”

She elaborated, observing that Finnish people make conscious listening a part of the communication process. Karina’ experience in Australia was quite different; she recalled that Australian people tend to interrupt each other often. Because Finnish people and Japanese people share a value of quietness, Karina felt more at home in Finland.

In terms of art and design, Karina mentioned the popularity of Finnish brand Marimekko among young Japanese women, and noted the popularity of Finland among Japanese travellers. Her mother, for example, described visiting Finland as a “dream come true.” If she had to guess why, Karina would chalk it up to the wondrous, novel snow and nature.

However, Karina also noted significant differences between Japanese and Finnish cultures. For one thing, Japanese workers tend to prioritize work and to work late into the evening. “Whereas in Finland, I think they try to save time for family and save time for leisure,” she said.

While writing her PhD thesis, Karina was grateful for this difference between the Finnish culture and her own. She observed gratefully that her supervisor has not rushed her to finish her article faster.

“I’m really appreciative of that thinking,” she said. “I feel that people in Finland know that each of us has our own pace. From their attitude, I’ve learned that it is okay,” Karina said.

Be sure to give episode 45 a listen to hear more about Karina’s experience in Finland, and don’t forget that you can find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, or send us a message at mastering.finland.podcast@gmail.com. Thanks for tuning in!