Developing my sensitivity on culture

by Zipporah Jerugut, degree student in Environmental Engineering

A Christmas tree, a church in the background

Christmas time in Tampere city centre

A step for everyone considered to be the first on entering a foreign country, is to adapt to the society of that particular country; Finnish in this case. This is because history and culture just like any other country influences our ways of communication and doing things. My encounter in Finland have made me understand how culture impacts other people’s behavior and now am able to explain why certain things are done in particular ways-making it easier to cooperate, work and communicate.

Studying abroad contrary to touring interesting places provides a good opportunity to learn to use a foreign language in practice and even more importantly, to work and study with it. While trying to get things done, studies have forced me to interact with local people, an opportunity that touring seldom gives to experience foreign culture. I have developed some sensitivity on culture difference and confusion has seized.

As opposed to Kenya, it is not necessary to ask a secretary to make an appointment with a professor in Finland. Any student can approach the faculty directly and this as factor enables a friendly interaction with ease to matters relating with studies. Interaction with professors is very informal therefore equality between people is very evident. It is perhaps one of the nicest elements in the Finnish university system!

Finnish people as I have noticed are strict in obeying rules. It greatly moves when you see people stand at the red traffic light even though there is no one else around. This clearly potray the Finnish culture that is built on honesty and trust.

Small red shop cottages and decorative evening lights

People exploring Tampere Christmas market

Finnish people according to my findings do not practice their religion regularly as they do not consider it a very important part of their life. However, holidays like Christmas is mostly celebrated extensively as early as 23rd of December all through 26th unlike in other places where celebrations are only 25th and 26th.

Finland’s living standard is highly enhanced due to the basics needs of citizens being taken care of by Government unlike in many other countries. People primarily pay their taxes honestly because from it they gain benefits of free education, free healthcare and even the well-functioning public infrastructure. Anyone despite the family background get an access to education and is equally important contributor to the well-being of the nation. In other countries, access to education is only for those who can afford.