Finnish schools – Karelia UAS amongst them – has long traditions of students called “tutors”. They are just like your average everyday students but they have one special task: they are the ones that make sure that the new students manage the start of the new school and, even more importantly, their brand new social circles. Many of the students in higher education institutions move into a whole new city and thus know nobody in their neighborhood. It is tutors’ task to help them get to know to each other.
Apart from regular peer tutors Karelia UAS also has a group of International Tutors. Our job is basically the same as the peer tutors’ but instead of taking care of new starting classes we look after the international students. Karelia has dozens of both exchange students and degree students that come from all around the globe just to study with us here in Joensuu.
As an international tutor my main task is basically just to be there for my tutees: every international tutor gets a few tutees of their own. We help them to adapt to both Finnish culture altogether and the mysterious ways of Finnish school system. We are waiting at the airport to pick them up (even though sometimes coordinating all the rides for several tutees arriving on the same flight can truly be a challenge, haha!) and we help them with the basic things during their first days in Finland: where is the nearest shops and bus stops, how to get to the centrum and campus, how to rent a bike… Even the simplest things may be a challenge when moving to a whole new country – and that is why we want to be there to help our new classmates out!
I have been a tutor for a few months now and have fallen in love with this job. I have learnt so much about foreign cultures and languages when talking with the tutees and made so many new friends around the world! I’ve had a change to organize some pretty awesome events for our tutees and see them enjoy their time in Finland. I’ve even learnt a whole lot of things of myself and my home country, too: seeing the tutees get so over-excited about common things like snow and forests has opened my eyes to see the beautiful things around me that I have paid so little attention to before.
I still have half of my tutoring left. Most of our exchange students are only staying for one semester and will thus be leaving us soon. We have already got the list of the arriving students for the spring semester and are looking forward to meeting all of them! But in the meantime I hope all those of you who are leaving have enjoyed your stay and will be back to Joensuu soon – you’ll always be welcome!
your tutor Mira
PSST! Do YOU want to become an international tutor for the academic year 2017–2018? Check your e-mail after holidays: info of the application will be sent in January/February!