“I know that in Oulu, I can trust people”

Gökhan Depo studied in the Education and Globalisation (EdGlo) master’s programme at the University of Oulu between 2014 and 2017. Now he works at E2 Research, an independent, multidisciplinary, research organisation.


My name is Gökhan. I’m Turkish and in my mid-30s. I studied in the Education and Globalisation (EdGlo) master’s programme at the University of Oulu between 2014 and 2017. After completing my master´s degree, I went to the United States to pursue a PhD in the University of Minnesota.


I had initially wanted to come to Finland for a master´s degree because my goal was to study the best education system in the world, and Finland had constantly been ranked as one of the best. Also, I really love the cold weather. For me, the cold climate was one of the reasons for coming up north and choosing Oulu.

I genuinely love Oulu. It’s a big enough city that you can find things to do, but small enough that once you leave your home, within 5 to 10 minutes, you’re in the woods. And that’s literally what I want in life: I can go out on a Friday evening and find something to do, but I can also go for a walk on a Sunday morning.


Throughout my PhD in the United States, I realised how much I love Oulu and Finland, so I came back in 2021. I work at E2 Research, an independent research organisation based in Helsinki. The great thing about E2 Research is that my work there is something I’m passionate about. It focuses on international scholars living and working in Finland and how to improve their societal impact, which is a topic very close to my heart.

The other project I’m working on is about international talents living in Finland – how to attract and retain them and how to provide solutions based on research. These two projects are aligned with my own life goals and desires. So, I’m a very happy employee.


I would say the bicycle culture was very surprising for me when I first came to Oulu. When I arrived, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been on a bike since childhood. Then I came to study here, and suddenly I was going everywhere by bike. It’s a different world, and your life completely changes when you come to Finland.

Other surprising thing, which still gets me to this day, is how we hang our coats at the entrance of the university on the coat rack. It is the most shocking thing. I still can’t believe it.

You can find the same natural environment in Turku, Helsinki or Rovaniemi, if you want, but the combination of nature with the amenities you have in this city is something I love about Oulu. It’s not just the nature itself that’s wonderful but being able to be in nature so quickly while being able to reach a business centre in the same short time span. That’s what I love in Oulu – everything is 15 minutes away: woods, lake, work, city centre. Everything is close by, and everything I need is here.


I spend some time in Helsinki due to my work. Almost twice a month, I’m in Helsinki and spend some amount of time there. I like the fact that I can work from home and go out for a walk when I want to, but I’m also part of a larger community. And that community is not necessarily just in Oulu; it’s also in Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, and other places.

Oulu is calmer. People are peaceful and kind. I know that in Oulu, I can trust people without thinking much about it. I believe that if I fall, people will come and pick me up, both literally and figuratively.

Most certainly, I see myself here in the future. I see myself settling down here and enjoying life. I have been telling everyone I know this. I tell them I love Oulu.

When international students come to study here, the University of Oulu offers support in many things that help you settle in. I believe students can just enjoy life here, whether they have longer-term plans or not, because they will receive a world-class education. Finnish universities are of high quality, and they are all fairly similar in terms of the quality of education they provide. You can receive the same quality of education in Oulu, Tampere or Helsinki, so students can just enjoy their lives.

This article was originally published at oulutalenthub.fi

Oulu Talent Hub

Talent stories you may be interested in:

The incredible journey of Chiara Bosetti

Maja Terning: “I think everybody can find friends here”

Débora Oliveira: “During my first walks in Oulu, I felt like I was in a fairy tale”

Doris Yue believes her dreams will come true in Oulu

Junnaid Iqbal: ”You must come to Oulu with an open mind and a big smile”

Tamara Louis: “Oulu is a perfect environment for families”

Sharmin Farah: “Northern Lights – the best thing to experience while living in Oulu”

Viktors Sobolevs: “If you want to work in Oulu, believe in yourself and push hard”

Kiran Pandit: ”Oulu is a helpful place for international students, and people are nice”