Ilmakuva Vaasan kaupungista

A language course that is more than just a language course – getting to know the culture and fellow students before your arrival in your new hometown

To better integrate into the society of a foreign country, it is good to know the local language. The University of Vaasa and the Talent Coastline Employment project are organising Finnish and Swedish courses for international students starting their university studies in the autumn.

But these language courses are not just about learning a language. They are a way to get to know the local culture, your new hometown and also make new friends.

University teachers Susanna Rönn and Mia Juthman from the University of Vaasa are the lecturers of these courses this summer. Rönn teaches the Finnish online course and Juthman the Swedish course.

– Over 150 students are taking the courses this summer. This is a considerable number that tells these courses are needed, says Rönn.

The students come from over 45 countries across the world, for example from Egypt, Bangladesh, Estonia, Philippines, Germany and the US. Some of them are already living in Finland but most of the participants will be moving to Vaasa as their studies begin in the autumn.

– The course is divided into two parts: in the summer, we study online and, in the autumn, we meet face-to-face before students start their studies. In the face-to-face meetings, we will explore the city, have lunch together and the students can get to know each other better, says Juthman.

The courses focus mainly on spoken language. In addition to independent study, students can participate in online meetings where they can ask any questions they have on their mind.

“My past experience taught me that even though you can get by with English, knowing a local language is a huge boost for integrating into the local culture”

Students’ thoughts on the language courses in Finnish and Swedish

Students are very satisfied with the courses. A nursing student from Novia University of Applied Sciences, Marcella A Kirwa, who is from Uganda but living in Malawi, is doing the Swedish course.

– I signed up for the Swedish online course because I wanted to get a wider understanding of the language. The teacher has been amazing. Her way of teaching makes it much easier as she does not make us feel like we must grasp everything at once. I chose Swedish because right from the start I realised it was close to English so it is easier for me to understand.

– I chose Finland because I was looking for a country that would be perfect for my family. Calm and peaceful, not so busy with a good social welfare. Finland also has an amazing education system which I wanted my children to benefit from and learn a new language.

Marcella A Kirwa from Uganda
Sabbir Ahmed from Bangladesh

Sabbir Ahmed from Bangladesh is going to start his master's degree in Finance at the University of Vaasa in the autumn.

– I learned that this is the only EFMD-accredited programme in Finland. So, I chose this programme for the betterment of my career. Finland is known as the happiest place in the world consecutively for the last five years and it has the best education system in the world. Finland also has beautiful nature.

–  The course has been very useful as we have little or zero knowledge about Finnish. The best part of this course has been the weekly support sessions on Zoom. Basic knowledge of Finnish will make my life easier in Finland.

Timur Galiullin from Russia has been living abroad for almost nine years and is now moving to Finland to study a master's degree in Finance at the University of Vaasa. He has a bachelor's degree from Hungary and has also been living in Canada for four years.

– I was looking for a master's degree that would add value and be exciting. The University of Vaasa has a comprehensive programme in finance with a possibility to access Bloomberg data, while the programme itself is accredited by a recognized financial organisation. Finally, I was intrigued to learn that the university offers the Finland scholarship, which is an amazing opportunity that I ended up getting.

– The course has been informative and helpful so far. The best part of the course is that we get weekly webinars with a native Finnish teacher and these webinars are supported well by self-study and other extra material.

– I chose this course because it offers a unique possibility to gain exposure to the Finnish language and culture before coming to Vaasa. My past experience taught me that even though you can get by with English, knowing a local language is a huge boost for integrating into the local culture.

Timur Galiullin from Russia
Jessa Canullas from the Philippines

Jessa Carmela Canullas from the Philippines is currently working as a senior engineer in quality management and process improvement in a renewable energy company in the Philippines. She is an active and outdoorsy person. During her spare time, she loves to do outdoor activities such as running, hiking, trekking, camping and freediving.

– I am going to study a master's programme in Industrial Management and Engineering at Novia University of Applied Sciences. The programme offers courses that are relevant, well-aligned, and the most logical extension of my experience and expertise. They will be a great step towards achieving my objectives.

–  When it comes to quality education systems, Finland is known as one of the best.  I also love nature and Finland offers accessible nature and outdoor activities.

– I always find learning a new language a fun experience, especially if I will be able to use it in my professional or everyday life. I decided to participate in this course so that I will be able to further learn the Finnish language and be able to communicate with native speakers when I arrive in Finland. I chose the Finnish language as it is the most widely used language in Finland, but someday, I would also like to learn Swedish.

Aerial image of Vaasa copyright: City of Vaasa Christoffer Björklund

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