She­fat Islam: “There is some­thing for every­one in Oulu”

Woman posing to a camera

She­fat Islam is orig­i­nal­ly from Bahrain. Cur­rent­ly, she is a com­mu­ni­ca­tions intern and stud­ies MSc. in Mar­ket­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oulu.


Ter­ve! I am She­fat. Study­ing MSc. in Mar­ket­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oulu. I have been a com­mu­ni­ca­tions intern for Oulu Tal­ent Hub and Business­Oulu.

I hail from Bahrain, a beau­ti­ful island in the Mid­dle East. I am a Bangladeshi raised in Qatar, where I lived most of my life. My daugh­ter and I came to Oulu in Octo­ber 2021 to ful­fill my dream of com­plet­ing my mas­ter’s degree. We came direct­ly to Oulu and the scenic town stole our hearts.

My fam­i­ly is from Min­neso­ta, USA and some are from Swe­den. They were my biggest sup­port­ers, all echo­ing -’It’s Fin­land! One of the safest places to be!’, which was extreme­ly impor­tant to us since we decid­ed I move here with our daugh­ter while my hus­band stays behind.

My pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ences include cus­tomer ser­vice and rela­tions, busi­ness devel­op­ment, admin­is­tra­tion, and oper­a­tions super­vi­sor for Qatar Air­ways. Being able to live in many coun­tries and work for orga­ni­za­tions in var­i­ous posi­tions is some­thing I am grate­ful for. Mar­ket­ing was always inter­est­ing to me. I believe it’s one field where you can add the cre­ativ­i­ty aspect in busi­ness. I am thank­ful to Business­Oulu for giv­ing me the unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to gain expe­ri­ence in this area.


Because why not Fin­land? when I was look­ing for places to study, I thought of Fin­land because I was work­ing for a Finnish fran­chise preschool in Bahrain. That is where I learned first­hand why the edu­ca­tion sys­tem is so renowned in the world. This made me look for master’s study pro­grams, and I real­ized, there are AACSB accred­it­ed uni­ver­si­ties here which were so afford­able when com­pared to the uni­ver­si­ties in the USA, Cana­da etc., where most of us inter­na­tion­al stu­dents flock to. It was an eye open­er. I did not think twice and applied at the uni­ver­si­ty of Oulu because their cours­es were more aligned to what I want­ed to study and the rest, as they say, is his­to­ry!

Apart from Fin­land being rat­ed best in terms of work life bal­ance, the hap­pi­est coun­try in the world many times in a row, there are two more things wor­thy of men­tion­ing. One, is that I have a gap in my edu­ca­tion of over five years and Fin­land is one of those few coun­tries that accept any gaps in edu­ca­tion or work. Being accept­ed and able to get back on track is such a relief for us who have had a break in our stud­ies.

And the oth­er is the sup­port I receive from every­one being a par­ent. From work to stud­ies, the pro­fes­sors, the col­leagues and even the class­mates, every­one is under­stand­ing and sup­port­ive. This sup­port is such a ginor­mous help to any­one think­ing of mov­ing here with kids.

Woman and school kid


Some of the perks of being a stu­dent is that we receive a lot of ben­e­fits like dis­counts at super­mar­kets, restau­rants, com­mute and, of course, the uni­ver­si­ty hous­ing, which is a such a bless­ing! The rent is quite rea­son­able and even comes with the inter­net.
We are in love with the Finnish cui­sine. Salmon soup is our absolute fav!

Oulu is more of a com­mu­ni­ty and peo­ple are super friend­ly once you approach them. Yes. You must make the first move. I appre­ci­ate peo­ple for say­ing things as they are. I love how they teach kids inde­pen­dence at such a young age. It was a pleas­ant sur­prise to see 7‑year-olds walking/biking to schools alone! They build the inner ‘sisu’ in kids right from the start. The weath­er doesn’t stop them from out­side play time at school. The impor­tance giv­en to out­door play and read­ing books for kids here is praise­wor­thy.

What I also appre­ci­ate this coun­try is for the efforts it takes for for­eign­ers to feel wel­comed and at home. If you look beyond the dark­ness and frost, there is so much of live­li­ness here the peo­ple would like you to see. The lan­guage cen­ters are free, there are sev­er­al net­work­ing events which are also free to con­nect with peo­ple, make friends. Business­Oulu and Start­up refugees are some of the com­pa­nies that are inno­vat­ing new ways to help peo­ple set­tle down here. I have seen all their efforts work­ing for Business­Oulu and I must say, I haven’t seen it any­where else!

Anoth­er thing I noticed and absolute­ly love, is that all jobs are giv­en impor­tance. You could be a clean­er or a CEO. You know you will be equal­ly respect­ed. How beau­ti­ful is that?

If giv­en the chance to redo, I would start with my Finnish skills before I got here! I would say, do your research, don’t be shy to ask. Remem­ber, there is no such thing as a stu­pid ques­tion! I still have a lot to learn, and I am learn­ing some­thing new every day. We have been trav­el­ing between Oulu and Bahrain and it gets upset­ting wit­ness­ing my daugh­ter look out the air­craft win­dow say­ing, ‘Bye-bye Fin­land, will miss you!’ It is amaz­ing how Oulu has tak­en up such a big space in our hearts in such a short time.


My advice to stu­dents try­ing to set­tle here would be, please go ahead to the Career cen­ter at the uni­ver­si­ty dur­ing your first year and make use of their work­shops and keep your­self up to date with recruit­ment events that take place. They are there to help. From cre­at­ing resumes to tak­ing your resume pic­tures and men­tor­ing you… they are there to guide, so make use of this amaz­ing ser­vice from day one!

For activ­i­ties and hob­bies, there are plen­ty of things to do around Oulu. We enjoyed the sum­mer activ­i­ties, the mid­night sun, the train ride to the theme park and, of course, Nal­likari beach. Win­ter comes with its own spec­ta­cles, snow, and, if you are lucky, the north­ern lights!

A must place to vis­it is the Lap­land and see Santa’s vil­lage. The ice cas­tle in Kemi is anoth­er great spot. There are so many sports activ­i­ties to give a try. But dur­ing those lazy win­ter days, we just love to stay cozy, watch the snow fall and drink our hot choco­late… After all, life is all about the sim­ple things, isn’t it?

For year-round activ­i­ties and hob­bies, there are many sports halls here. The uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent coun­cil has the well­be­ing tutor­ing, which has a lot of activ­i­ties all year round and they are most­ly free. As for kids, there are a lot of hob­bies like swim­ming, gym­nas­tics, music, and karate… There is some­thing for every­one in Oulu!

This arti­cle was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished at

Woman with lake view

Oulu Tal­ent Hub

Tal­ent sto­ries you may be inter­est­ed in:

Moa­men Ibrahim: “Know­ing peo­ple here is what makes things eas­i­er”

Jawad Malik: “All you have to do is to break the shell”

Kamal Singh: “What I love about the peo­ple here is that they are great lis­ten­ers”

The incred­i­ble jour­ney of Chiara Boset­ti

Niy­ati Kandikan­ti: “I feel pos­i­tive about my pos­si­bil­i­ties here”

Vanes­sa Phekani: “Don’t say ‘No’ when oppor­tu­ni­ties come knock­ing”

Gökhan Depo: “I know that in Oulu, I can trust peo­ple”

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”

Moustafa Khairi: “Win­ter activ­i­ties in Oulu make it an even more spe­cial city”