“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.

Read more about work­ing in Oulu