International tutoring = doughnuts, forests and meeting new people

This autumn Interaktio received 13 new exchange students from different parts of the world. They were welcomed here in this small but exciting (?) Tampere by 9 international tutors. With their personal tutors the exchange students got to know Tampere and, for example, how to buy milk, where to do laundry and how to get to Ikea. We have also organised few events for the whole international group of Interaktio, and the exchange students have been welcomed to take part in parties with Finnish students as well.

One example of the events organised by the tutor group so far was a trip to a rainy forest in Hervanta, which didn’t tempt too many participants, but was a nice experience for those involved:

”At monday the 19th of September we were in forest in Hervanta, trying to find some mushrooms. There were four of us, but anyway we had a nice trip. And found some mushrooms also.” -Anniina

Later in the autumn we are planning to organise a food night, where the exchange students can get familiar with some masterpieces of the Finnish kitchen: mämmi, karjalanpiirakka, salmiakki.. And everyone is, of course, waiting for some snow to come, so that we can enjoy some winter sports and swimming in avanto. Some of the exchange students and tutors are waiting to see Lapland and Santa Claus too, as a trip to Rovaniemi will be organised in the beginning of December.

Being a tutor

What is international tutoring like? Well, let’s give the tutors a chance to share their thoughts:

”When I first signed up to be an international tutor, I thought that it was all about helping out the exchange students by doing everything for them: finding things out for them, taking them to banks and post offices, pretty much holding their hands through their time in Finland.
When the exchange students arrived, though, I remembered what it was like moving abroad myself. I wanted to do everything myself: get to know the country that I now lived in, find out how certain things worked, be proud of myself when I found the place I was looking for or finally got the courage to interact with the locals in their own language. That’s also what I saw these exchange students go through when they arrived to Finland: they politely thanked us for our help, but were perfectly able to take care of themselves.
Now I think that being an international tutor is just about getting to know new people, even making friends if everything goes well. And of course being ready to help out, when your exchange student needs to know how to get tickets to a party, for example…” -Maria

”My experiences as an international tutor have been very positive so far. I haven’t been able to take part in the student association activities yet because of my hectic schedule, but I’ve been able to find time to hang out with my tutees and other exchange students every now and then. It has been a lot of fun and also helpful in preparing for my upcoming exchange year. Anyone who has the chance should consider becoming an international tutor, you can learn so much about other cultures and yourself as well!” -Jenna

”I got an inspiration to be an international tutor at the end of my studies. I hope being a tutor will look good in my CV someday. 😉 and certainly meeting new (international) friends is always a pleasure! Journey so far has been easier than I thought it would be, the only thing missing is meeting with my tutee…Unfortunately I haven’t been able to join everything organized by our tutorgroup because other life gets in the way, but I hope many great events are still waiting for us ahead on the road of tutoring.” -Anna

”I wanted to become an international tutor because it’s always interesting to see how people from different cultures see my culture. About a month ago Anniina took us to a forest in Hervanta and it was such a great experience to explore Finnish forrest with a Chinese student. Things that are pretty common to me, for example mushroom picking, can be exotic and strange to someone else…” -Laura

My name is Sanna, and I have been tutoring an international student this autumn for the first time. I have heard that here in our university we have really good tutoring system compared to other countries, where they may not have tutoring system at all. I myself have felt quite useful to my international ”tutee”, and I really think this system really eases international student to start studying and living here. Besides, we have spent a really good time with my tutee and other international students, and I also have learned a lot from this time. So I really recommend becoming a tutor to an international student: it’s a great experience and you get to meet people from other places and cultures, which can be very broadening!” -Sanna

”Tutoring international students has been a great experience so far. Getting to know new people from different countries and cultures has given a new perspective to see the world.
My exchange student has already become an important person to me and it’s been so nice to spend time with her not only in official events but on our freetime too.
International tutoring has also been a great opportunity to improve my english skills but also to have fun with new friends. I hope we’ll have many great and unforgettable moments in the future too!” -Tiia

”The best things being an international tutor have been a change to meet new wonderful people and to practise english! I´m one of those people who have been learning english for several years, but for whom speaking english is something very scary! Now, in autumn I have had a good reason to speak it!
International students have also given a reason to explore places in Tampere: I have lived here only one year, and for example Pispalan näkötorni, where we visited, was a totally new place for me too!” -Anne

So, what do we learn from this? All the current tutors seem to think that international tutoring has been a positive and rewarding experience so far. We can all highly recommend it! New tutors will be searched in the spring, so if you are interested, keep your eyes open and emails checked.

Jenni (one of the responsibles for international tutoring)



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