”Dinner time with Finnish food was the best. The atmosphere was so warm that I felt like at home.”
Welcome to Oamk’s and OSAKO’s Friendship Family program – nowadays known better as BFF -program!
In the BFF-program, international students and students / families from Oulu get to know each other and each other’s cultures in a relaxed and low-key way. As a finnish participant, you can join just by yourself or apply as a family – and the diversity of families is also taken into account: couples, big or small families can also sign up! International participants can be both exchange or international degree students. The most important thing is the desire to participate.
The program is called BFF for two reasons – as well as it’s a nostalgic shortening for Best Friends Forever, in our program it also includes terms for all participants: The international students are called Buddies, finnish applicants Friends, and families, well, Families.
BFF-program will start after the matches are made in February, and it’ll last as long as the participants want. Those selected will be notified on the end of February at the latest.
The applicants are matched together based by the applications, after which the activity continues voluntarily and in a completely free form, so you can define what your own activities will look like.
Anyone from Oulu can join, but we are especially looking for Oamk’s students and staff to join. Our goal is to promote the integration of international degree and exchange students. Commitment to Finnish everyday life and culture outside the study environment is an impressive experience for the student. In addition, the finnish applicant gets a new perspective and activity in their own everyday life as well. The activities internationalize Oamk and promote openness and community spirit.
If you have any questions, contact the contact person of the BFF-program, OSAKO’s communications and international affairs expert.
Note – OSAKO has skates and other sports and camping equipment that can be borrowed free of charge in Linnanma, which can also be used to your advantage at family get-togethers. Contact Jennika or come to Sluuppi Shop in Linnanmaa to check out our selection! OSAKO has, among other things, footballs, basketballs, racquets and bats, camping stoves, mattresses, and sleeping bags, skates, skis and snowboards, and other basic equipment.
BFF-matches are a living example of what a home internationalization can be at its best. BFF offers foreign students the opportunity to get to know ordinary life in Oulu. At the same time, the finnish applicant gets an unique opportunity to expand their own worldview and learn something new. In the best case, the activity gives you unforgettable experiences and lifelong friends.
Anyone (but especially students and their families) from Oulu is welcomed. The definition of family is very broad, and there are no criteria regarding the size or composition of the family. Couples, children, childless, single parents, and seniors can all act as a family of friends. The most important thing is an open and positive attitude and the desire to invite an international student into the finnish life from time to time. The participants must be able to communicate in English, so this is also a great opportunity to sharpen your language skills.
You can be whichever a exchange student or a student that studies an international degree here. The most important thing is that you are motivated and would really like a finnish friend – whether your stay in Finland is only a few months long or you’ll be staying here for many years to come.
A suitable match is selected based on the applications. Special attention is paid to hobbies and interests.
The match can do very everyday things together. Many international students have never visited a Finnish home before. Having some coffee, cooking and baking together, visiting a summer cottage, sauna, skiing, skating, a swimming trip to a nearby lake, celebrating Finnish holidays, or just having a chill board game session together are all great ways to spend time together. In the opinion of an international student, such a pastime – very ordinary from the point of view of many Finns – can be the most interesting thing to do. International students are also encouraged to share things about their own culture with their finnish friends.
There is no ready-made model for what the operation should be like. The participants decide together what kind of things they want to do and how often to meet.
It’s important to remember, that your match might have habits etc. related to his culture or religion, which the other participant should be aware of. It’s also good to think about practical matters, such as going to meetings – especially if one participant lives a little further away – in advance. It is worth remembering that, for example, bus trips can be a significant expense in the student’s budget. However, the finnish applicant is not in any way financially responsible for the international student or vice versa. Things should be discussed openly in good time. Mutual learning is one of the biggest advantages of the operation.
The BFF-program is coordinated by Oulu University of Applied Sciences (Oamk) and Oamk’s student union OSAKO. The activity is intended for Oamk’s international degree students, exchange students and finnish students living in Oulu. The purpose of these principles is to ensure that everyone understands their role in BFF-activities.
The participants are matched based on applications. Especially expressed wishes as well as hobbies and other interests are taken into account. Not all wishes can necessarily be taken into account, and not everyone can be guaranteed a friend or a family. After the match is made, the activities are done independently.
Oamk and OSAKO are not responsible for the families or students participating in the activity. All activities are considered free time, and no one is insured on behalf of Oamk or OSAKO. Everyone participating must take care that no one is harmed or otherwise put at a disadvantage. The well-being, safety, and cultural differences of both parties must be taken into account in all activities.
The participants agree on how often they meet and what they do together. Active participation and genuine interest in each other’s culture are expected from both.
The finnish participants are not in any way financially responsible for the international student and are not obligated to compensate the student for any expenses incurred by the activity. The same goes other way around.
Finnish applicants are not responsible for arranging international students’ housing, banking, residence permit or other similar matters. The international student does not have an obligation to work (for example, babysitting or doing housework) for the finnish friend / family.
The activity is committed however long the participants want, but it is, however, voluntary in nature. If a family or student wants to withdraw from the activity, it is allowed. If other problems arise, the coordinator of the BFF-program must be notified immediately. Oamk and OSAKO have the right to remove any student or family from the activity.
The participants are encouraged to openly discuss their expectations and possibilities regarding activities.
All participants fill the form, on the basis of which they are matched. Shared hobbies and other interests are especially taken into account. The wishes are taken into account as much as possible, but it is not necessarily possible to meet all wishes.
The new BFF-season starts in January and the application period happens on 12.1.-12.1.2024.
The participants are matched asap after the application period ends. All those who apply will be informed when the process continues.