We have 1139 international students in our university. However, they are rarely to be seen in the same student events as the Finns. So where do the international students hang around and what does Jyväskylä mean for them?
For an Australian, Jyväskylä seems like quite an exotic choice to study for a master’s degree.
”They don’t have this kind of master’s degree pretty much anywhere else in the world, which kinda put Finland on the map for me” says Joshua Bamford, 25, who is studying in the master’s program in music, mind and technology in the University of Jyväskylä.
Bamford is a degree student, meaning that he will be in Jyväskylä for the next two years.
Unlike most other exchange students of Jyväskylä, he doesn’t live with the so called international family in Roninmäki.
”Actually, I got really lucky with finding a home. I live in Kortepohja in my own studio which is fully furnished.”
For Bamford, university is a way of life. He is studying, singing in Musica Kuoro and he is quite active in different student organizations.
”Next year, I will be chairing JYY’s Subcommittee for International Affairs” he says delightedly.
He has also been involved with the Erasmus student network and the international degree student community IDESCO.
”You have great traditions like the students’ overalls”, he says and is happy to add that he has ordered a pair in black with yellow pockets.
Life around the campus seems quite hectic for Bamford.
”What is spare time?” Joshua replies with a slight sound of sarcasm when asked about his free time activities.
”I haven’t been to Sitsit party yet (a typical Finnish university party) but that has to happen. In Australia, students drink and pass out. But in Finland they sing!”
This music student definitely prefers the Finnish style.
”I came to Jyväskylä in the first week of August. My main reason to study over here was Finns’ interest in sports, and better job opportunities”, says Andrea Guardato, a 25-year-old sport management student from Rome, Italy.
Guardato likes to spend time with other students, especially the Spanish.
”I’m never alone, and there is always something to do.”
In his spare time, Guardato is hanging around in Roninmäki with other international students. Usually they watch movies or just chill out in this intercultural Jyväskylä family.
”We always get together for dinner”, he mentions.
The Finnish student restaurants also get his approval.
Once or twice a week Guardato goes to the city center.
”Escape is my favorite club but Play-Station and beer are my reasons to go to Passion.”
One of the assumptions often associated with international students is that they consider living in Finland very expensive.
”For me, it’s not that expensive because I come from Rome.”
The weather is not a surprise since Guardato has lived three months in Norway during wintertime.
”The darkness is difficult for me. Sometimes I feel at 4pm it would be time for me to go to bed.”
Guardato has enjoyed his exchange experience in Jyväskylä.
”For me, everything is in the right place in Finland: school, government, job opportunities and so on”, Guardato states.
Actually, Guardato is thinking of coming back to Finland to work or to study another master’s degree.
”But next time I would probably choose Helsinki!”