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Text Mikko Mykkänen Picture Niko Karvanen

Hanging out with international friends – IDESCO creates a community for both Finnish and international students

John Agkopian and Margarita Marmaridou spent a relaxed evening playing pool at IDESCO's hangout night in October.

IDESCO has succeeded in gathering together local and international students. Still, the organization struggles with marketing.

The back of the bar is filled with whispers and puzzled looks as international students try to come up with answers on Santa Claus’ hometown. The pub quiz is a part of IDESCO’s hangout night, which is held at bar Hemingway’s once a month.

The latest event gathered a few dozen students, both international and Finnish, at the pub for a night of informal mingling. This included people with varying skill levels competing at the pool table.

”I hope I didn’t embarrass myself too bad out there”, said one of the players, Mayke Harkema from Netherlands.
For Dirk Falken, the evening provided a relaxed atmosphere and a break from everyday routines.
”It’s nice that there are local students mixed in with the internationals. That’s a good way to get out of your normal bubble”, said the sports management student from Germany.

”We provide opportunities to get out, meet more people and interact with the student community.”

IDESCO, short for International Degree Student Community, was originally created in 2012 to represent the international student community at the university of Jyväskylä. But representation isn’t all IDESCO does. Many people, including David Lampert, would say that the main function of IDESCO is social in nature.

“We provide opportunities to get out, meet more people and interact with the student community”, Lampert said.
Lampert sees these events as a good site for international students to socialise and integrate with both the international and Finnish student communities.

IDESCO hosts two events per month; one being the monthly hangout at Hemingway’s. The hangouts often also have games or quizzes for the people attending.

The other event changes monthly and could be anything from the annual Magical Forest trip where students get to experience a traditional wooden sauna while spending a night in the woods, all the way to international food events with treats from around the globe.

“Last Christmas we had a Christmas festival where we cooked Christmas dishes from different cultures, and you had to pay three or four euros for the food”, Lampert said.

”Everyone is welcome, friendly and allowed to be themselves.”

IDESCO also has a good reputation among the students.

“Personally I believe that the strongest point of IDESCO is the safe environment that the organization promotes during the events. Everyone is welcome, friendly and allowed to be themselves”, Ioannis Agkopian, a Greek masters student, describes the organization.
According to Lampert, even Finnish students attend these events, with around a tenth of the students at the events being Finns

Most of IDESCO’s communication and marketing happens through Facebook or word of mouth. Their website doesn’t really get updated because of few users. Agkopian seems to agree that communication is probably the organization’s biggest weakness.

“The organization could attract even more participants than it currently does, so my focus would be on the promotional aspect and marketing. That is currently the only aspect that I would like to see improve”, Agkopian noted.

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