Being an Ita­lian exc­han­ge stu­dent in Oulu

Giorgia Tononi is a 17-year-old exchange student hailing from Italy. She has embarked on a captivating journey to the land of a thousand lakes and a myriad of seasons.

Gior­gia Tono­ni is a 17-year-old exc­han­ge stu­dent hai­ling from Ita­ly. She has embar­ked on a cap­ti­va­ting jour­ney to the land of a thousand lakes and a myriad of sea­sons. She arri­ved in Fin­land at the dawn of August and will spend the enti­re year in Oulu. She is exci­ted and loo­king forward to get­ting to know Fin­nish cul­tu­re and count­ry.

Alt­hough Fin­land was ran­ked as her last pre­fe­rence among five exc­han­ge count­ries, she is still very ent­husias­tic about her upco­ming exc­han­ge year. Fin­land was inclu­ded on the list because she belie­ved it to be qui­te dif­fe­rent from other Euro­pean count­ries. By good luck, she ended up in the capi­tal of Nort­hern Fin­land whe­re she can expe­rience the best aspects of all the sea­sons.

During Giorgia’s stay in Fin­land, she will be living in a host fami­ly that has a sis­ter of the same age. Both attend Laa­ni­la High School. Throug­hout the year, Gior­gia will jour­ney through dif­fe­rent host fami­lies eve­ry three months, gai­ning unique insights into both Fin­land and Oulu’s way of life. Howe­ver, she will remain in the same school throug­hout year. Gior­gia feels warm­ly welco­med in her cur­rent fami­ly.

In such a brief time, Gior­gia has alrea­dy fami­lia­rized her­self with Oulu city. She has taken a long bike trip with her host fami­ly around Oulu, and she also joi­ned a bas­ket­ball team. Cur­rent­ly, they are plan­ning to visit an Ita­lian res­tau­rant in Oulu down­town with her host fami­ly. Gior­gia is enjo­ying her time in her new home­town, Oulu.

Gior­gia was surpri­sed by the dif­fe­rence between the reser­ved Fin­nish people and the out­going Ita­lians. She has also taken note of the mar­ked dif­fe­rences between the Fin­nish and Ita­lian educa­tio­nal sys­tems. In Ita­ly, they have a six-day-long school week, and the school day is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Stu­dents remain the same class­room throug­hout the day and have only one break. They do not have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to choo­se their own sub­jects and cour­ses. Also, the school does not offer any lunch. Ove­rall, the Ita­lian school is much stric­ter than the Fin­nish one. Gior­gia pre­fers our sys­tem more. On the other hand, she thinks that food is much bet­ter in Ita­ly. Spi­nach soup at school lunch was not as tas­ty as Ita­lian pizza and pas­ta.

As expec­ted, Gior­gia is eager­ly awai­ting the win­ter. That is somet­hing that makes Fin­land worth visi­ting, especial­ly for ice ska­ting and skiing, which are on Giorgia’s to do ‑list. One of the bene­fits of living in Oulu is its excel­lent loca­tion, offe­ring a lot for eve­ry­one. It is near to the good skiing spots like Ruka, and we have one in Oulu as well cal­led Rus­ko­tun­tu­ri.

The­re are also ice-ska­ting oppor­tu­ni­ties eve­ryw­he­re! On days when you do not feel like being out­si­de during a chil­ly win­ter day, you can always find a cozy cof­fee shop in down­town. Gior­gia has many unfor­get­table expe­riences ahead in Fin­land, and hope­ful­ly, she will get a chance to see the nort­hern lights.

Text: Iida Kyl­mä­luo­ma, Til­da-Mari Jur­mu, Anna Män­ty­vaa­ra, Gior­gia Tono­ni
Pic­tu­re: Giorgia’s first day in Oulu with her host parents.