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

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