First of all, I should say that although I share quite similar experience and opinion about being an international student in Xamk with my group friends, this essay is still quite subjective. The first time that I visited Finland was in August in 2019 when I came to study in Xamk. I decided to become a student here mainly because of the study programme. I won’t hide, there were many challenges that I faced because of coming to a totally unknown place. Without any friends, family where people, language, culture, everything is totally new… This is what all international students face. So, I feel that it is very important for the university to do its best to help students integrate easier and faster. Here are some thoughts about what is done or not done in Xamk that affects the well-being of international students.
To begin with, language is probably the main obstacle that international students from other countries face. Even though you try to learn Finnish, it takes a long time. And without Finnish it’s not so easy to orientate in Finland. Another thing is that, sadly, but Finnish students are usually not so cheerful to talk in English. As I noticed already, Finnish people are quite shy, especially about their English language skills. Honestly, no one cares if you choose the perfectly correct word, I know that international students are pleased when Finnish student decides to overcome his insecurities about the language and get to know that strange foreigner. Also, I always appreciate that for example, posts in social media or emails are translated into English. I like when I don’t need to use Google translator on every step. That makes me feel more as a part of the university and that is the point, right?
Also, to feel better in university students always try to find activities and friends. Since it’s not so easy to become friends with Finnish people, I tried to look for activities and student gatherings where I could find more international students. Although there are plenty of sports activities and parties, they are mainly for Finnish people. It would be great to have more events for international students. And with this point many other international students agreed too.
The last thing would be the services of Xamk. Another thing that many other international students agreed about was that student services are working great, people there are always happy to help with occurring questions. Although I and others from my group had to experience not the best work of services when it came to our welcoming. I heard an idea that tutors should write a welcoming letter for coming international students. They should answer students’ basic questions like where should they live or how can they travel in Finland. Tutors should make this super stressful time to be at least a bit more relaxed. Unfortunately, we didn’t have tutors and had to find everything by ourselves. All you want in such circumstances is just clarity and that someone would care about your coming. I noticed that welcoming for exchange students is organized way better. Maybe the same strategy should be applied to international students too.
To conclude, I didn’t talk too much about why it feels great to be an international student in Xamk, however, I believe that the above mentioned things can be just good ideas for improvement. Nevertheless, even if there are some flaws I still love being a part of Xamk and I am really glad about my choice to come here!