“Oulu has its own Northern spirit. I really love Oulu.”
Filip Polak from Slovakia came to Oulu in 2019 and he is studying at the University of Oulu for the fourth year. Filip started working part-time at Nokia in February 2022.
My name is Filip Polak, 24, and I’m from Hul, Slovakia. Hul is a small village of about 1 000 people in Slovakia and it is located not far from Bratislava. I moved to Finland four and a half years ago, first to Tampere and then to Oulu.
I moved to Oulu to for the University studies. First, I was afraid of moving to Oulu because it is such a Northern city. But now it would be scary to move away. I have made great friends here. A big part of the thanks goes to the university Of Oulu because there is a strong culture of bringing students together. I have also made friends outside of the university.
I am studying in the Intercultural teacher education programme at the University of Oulu. I have studied Finnish mainly independently. Before moving to Finland, I studied words from the dictionary. I have also done a few Finnish courses at the University of Oulu. I’m planning to stay in Finland for a while.
At the moment I work as talent attraction trainee for the recruitment department at Nokia. I want to speak Finnish with my colleagues during morning coffee and lunch breaks. I think that is the best way to learn Finnish.
I was surprised at how big the town is in terms of area. There are 200,000 inhabitants in Oulu and they are spread over large areas of the city. In Slovakia, cities are more concentrated.
Now I work part-time because I am also focusing on my studies. I work from home and go to the office every now and then. We usually talk between colleagues and arrange to be at the office at the same time.
I think there is a lot of independence in the northern way of working. There is a lot of trust between the management and the employees. The management encourages employees a lot to bring up their own thoughts about work. That is a big thing for me.
I have found some new hobbies in Oulu. Before I moved to Oulu, I hated running. But I fell in love with running in Oulu and started running during the winter. Oulu has many great opportunities for running throughout the year. For example, there are a lot of forest paths and other beautiful places for running here. I like to run around the Kuivasjärvi lake or sometimes to the beach to see the sea.
Another new thing for me is playing the drums. I started drumming thanks to an opportunity offered by the university. There are a lot of spaces for practicing music at the University of Oulu, so you do not have to have a whole kit at home. And I have always loved board games. I really enjoy playing board games with my friends.
I have also found karaoke while living in Oulu. This has been the biggest surprise for me. I go to sing karaoke with my friends every week. And from my experience in other countries, I have not seen as big a karaoke culture anywhere as the one in Finland.
If you move to Oulu from another city in Finland, do not fear the Oulu dialect. I was surprised how Finland has so many different dialects and how different the dialects of Tampere and Oulu are, for example. It really took some time for me to get used to the language here because of the strong Oulu dialect when I moved here from Tampere. Bu I am very used to the Oulu dialect by now.
I think that Oulu in a nice city. It is not too busy a city but there is still a lot going on and it has a very important role for the region. I think that Oulu has its own kind of spirit, the Northern spirit.
There are a lot of ICT companies in Oulu and therefore a lot of jobs in the industry for those who can speak English.
I go to Slovakia twice a year. There are many connections from Oulu to Slovakia. Nowadays I travel by ship or by train for environmental reasons, and it takes a little bit longer. Of course, the easiest way to go is to fly.