Navi­ga­ting Oulu through its dif­fe­rent sea­sons: adap­ting to a new life in the North

Beatriz Rocha

Beat­riz Roc­ha, 25, came here to do her master’s degree in Lear­ning, Educa­tion and Tech­no­lo­gy. Cur­rent­ly, she works as a Mar­ke­ting Trai­nee at Business­Oulu.

Who

Moi! My name is Beat­riz Roc­ha, I am 25 years old and I am ori­gi­nal­ly from Rio de Janei­ro, Brazil.

I have been living in Oulu since August 2021, when I arri­ved here to do my master’s degree in Lear­ning, Educa­tion and Tech­no­lo­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oulu. I cur­rent­ly work as a Mar­ke­ting and Com­mu­nica­tions Trai­nee for Oulu­Health, at Business­Oulu.

Why

Ever since a young age, I wan­ted to have the expe­rience of living abroad, mee­ting new people, and get­ting to know dif­fe­rent cul­tu­res. That was how I ended up in Por­tu­gal, whe­re I got my bachelor’s degree in Educa­tion. Whi­le I was the­re, I disco­ve­red the Eras­mus+ pro­gram­me, and I knew that I couldn’t was­te the oppor­tu­ni­ty of explo­ring yet anot­her count­ry.

Being an Educa­tion stu­dent, it was not hard to choo­se Fin­land as my des­ti­na­tion. I deci­ded to embark on a new jour­ney and moved to Joen­suu for a semes­ter. It was Janua­ry 2020 when arri­ved in Fin­land for the first time – and I quickly fell in love with the count­ry. My expe­rience was so good that I star­ted to think about pos­sibly coming back to stu­dy in Fin­land for a lon­ger period.

But then, the COVID-19 pan­de­mic hap­pe­ned – and litt­le did I know, but that would ulti­ma­te­ly bring me to Oulu. At the time, I got ext­re­me­ly inte­res­ted in stu­dying the inter­sec­tion of Educa­tion and Tech­no­lo­gy more deeply. I imme­dia­te­ly star­ted searc­hing for master’s pro­gram­mes in Fin­land that focused on this – and I found just the right match at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oulu.

Beatriz Rocha

What

Befo­re deci­ding to apply for the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oulu, I had heard very litt­le about the city – I basical­ly just knew it was very up north, and that it is a big ICT hub. But as soon as I applied for my master’s, I got exci­ted and star­ted doing a lot of research on the city. I did alrea­dy know qui­te a bit about how life in Fin­land could be, due to my pre­vious expe­rience, but I still ended up diving into web­si­tes such as Stu­dy in Fin­land, This is Fin­land, and many, many blogs.

I was inc­re­dibly exci­ted to reach my new city, but still a bit ner­vous about embar­king on a new life – this time, for at least two who­le years! Alt­hough this was my third time moving cities, it still felt a bit sca­ry. Many ques­tions went through my mind – “what if I don’t adapt well to being that far north?”, “what if I can’t make any friends?”, “what if I don’t feel welco­me?”, and the list goes on.

I was glad­ly surpri­sed to see how recep­ti­ve the people were, and how the uni­ver­si­ty was equip­ped to welco­me the new inter­na­tio­nal stu­dents. This was somet­hing that surpri­sed me very posi­ti­ve­ly about both the cities whe­re I lived in Fin­land: the uni­ver­si­ties were very well pre­pa­red to make foreign stu­dents a part of their com­mu­ni­ty. Whe­re I had stu­died pre­vious­ly, I often felt like an outcast just for being a foreig­ner. Here, I got to meet people from all over the world and see how Oulu beca­me their new home.

The City of Oulu also offers good sup­port to newco­mers – late­ly, for example, I have been taking part in Vil­la Vic­tor lan­gua­ge cour­ses, which are free of char­ge. I intend to con­ti­nue taking Fin­nish cour­ses, as the lan­gua­ge is a key aspect in inte­gra­tion, but it was good to see that tho­se who have just arri­ved in the count­ry can recei­ve sup­port and access ser­vices easi­ly and exten­si­ve­ly in English, too.

The recep­tion I had and my inte­rac­tions with both the local and inter­na­tio­nal com­mu­ni­ties were very encou­ra­ging and played an impor­tant role in my adap­ta­tion, and I gra­dual­ly star­ted to feel like it was awe­so­me to call Oulu my home, too!

How

In June 2023, I gra­dua­ted from my master’s degree. But my career path in Oulu star­ted about a year befo­re that: still during my stu­dies, I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to comple­te an interns­hip wit­hin the Mar­ke­ting, Com­mu­nica­tions, and Public Rela­tions Team at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oulu. After a few months of acti­ve­ly job searc­hing, I ended up lan­ding my cur­rent role as a Mar­ke­ting and Com­mu­nica­tions Trai­nee at Business­Oulu.

The com­bi­na­tion of my stu­dies and my work expe­rience has been an inte­res­ting one – I had not plan­ned to end up in the field of Mar­ke­ting and Com­mu­nica­tions, but I am glad that I did! I have been lear­ning a lot, and I think it is safe to say that I have beco­me a more flexible, adap­table, and con­fi­dent pro­fes­sio­nal. I am very gra­te­ful to the teams that allowed me to start paving my career in Oulu with such enric­hing expe­riences.

”The thing I like the most about wor­king in Fin­land is the work-life balance.”

The thing I like the most about wor­king in Fin­land is the work-life balance. I feel like this fos­ters a very healt­hy dai­ly life, in which I also have time to focus on acti­vi­ties that I enjoy doing. This makes my wor­king life have a sig­ni­ficant equi­li­brium, which con­sequent­ly makes my work bet­ter and more pro­duc­ti­ve.

The flat hie­rarc­hies in Fin­land are also somet­hing I real­ly like – even as an intern, I have always felt very res­pec­ted by the people I wor­ked with, and like I was an impor­tant, valued part of the team.

I have also high­ly enjo­yed the plea­su­re of wor­king in places whe­re I can cons­tant­ly inte­ract with both Finns and inter­na­tio­nals. It is great to be sur­roun­ded by people with dif­fe­rent pers­pec­ti­ves and to feel like I add to that with my very own views and cont­ri­bu­tions.

Beatriz Rocha

Whe­re

Ove­rall, my expe­rience in Oulu and Fin­land has been very posi­ti­ve, and it is why I deci­ded to stay and search for more pro­fes­sio­nal growth here. I have been able to build good pro­fes­sio­nal and per­so­nal networks, and I hope to land a new oppor­tu­ni­ty soon.

When people ask me for advice about coming to Oulu, my answers are always the same: do a lot of research about the city and do not be sca­red of the cold!

As someo­ne coming from a tro­pical count­ry, I unders­tand that the chan­ge in sce­na­rios can be qui­te ext­re­me for some of us, but it is not as bad as it may seem. I have come to love win­ter, and especial­ly autumn, here.

The chan­ge in sea­sons is actual­ly one of my favou­ri­te things about Fin­land. I love how each one of them brings unique things to apprecia­te, and I feel like I always have somet­hing to look forward to. I belie­ve this makes eve­ryt­hing more enjo­y­able and easier, even dea­ling with the win­ter that I once fea­red, but now makes me exci­ted – after all, during which other time of the year could you look at the sky and just see a beau­ti­ful Nort­hern Lights show?

Beatriz Rocha