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Experiences of friend activity: "Spending time together and chatting are the most important"

Published on 24.2.2022
updated on 24.2.2022
Tampere University of Applied Sciences
Eija Lähteenmäki started as a friend family for an Iranian student to learn about a new culture. The friendship became an experience which united her whole family.

We joined the friend activity as we were interested in learning to know a new person and culture. On the other hand, we wanted to introduce a foreign student to the Finnish culture.

The activity offered us an excellent possibility to use the English language but also to support a foreigner in learning Finnish. It was mind-opening to familiarise ourselves with a foreign student’s life and position in Tampere.

With a foreign friend, it is possible to go deeper into the culture, learn a lot as well as expand and internationalise your social life. We also met our friend’s parents when they visited Finland.

We had the chance to experience what genuine Iranian hospitality and friendship are.

We did not have any actual challenges or difficulties with our friend. At the beginning, there was some pressure to organise a special programme for our meetings. In the end, we however noticed that even if it is nice to do things together, spending time together and chatting on all sorts of matters are the most important. For example, we went to a cinema to see an Iranian film and had an interesting discussion on it afterwards.

We considered it important that we could genuinely help the foreign student. We had confidential discussions and our interaction was open and respectful.

We were even able to support our foreign friend professionally when he was planning his entry to working life after graduation.

My tip for foreign friends is to search for Finnish contacts. I encourage to use Finnish always when possible. Because Finns often start speaking English, it is important to tell that you want to practise and learn Finnish.

We can warmly recommend friend activity to other Finns and Tampere Region residents. If you have a family, it is an advantage if your whole family engages in the activity.

We have found that the experience unites the whole family.

– Eija Lähteenmäki