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Job learning abroad period - From Spain to Finland

I had the chance to participate in an Erasmus+ exchange and so I decided to go abroad. I had to choose between Rome, Italy or Oulu, Finland to do my job learning period.

Who am I? And why Finland?

My name is Sandra, I´m a student of Administration and Finances from Alcoy, Spain. Currently I´m on the last year of my studies and to finish my studies I have to do 400 hours of job learning.

To be honest, my first choice was Italy because I´ve been there several times and I liked everything there. But after days of reflexion I thought why I´m choosing a country that I have visited several times and where I can go whenever I want to? Then I felt that Finland was the best option I had, because it could be a good experience, I would learn a lot of things with a totally different culture, different weather and quite far from my hometown.

Expectations before I arriver to Oulu

I have to say that I had some preoccupations before I arrived to Oulu. I was worried about if I would be able to make new friends, if people would understand me when I spoke in English, if I would fit into the company I would make my job learning, or if I would adapt to Finnish culture, which is so different from Spanish culture.

The first week in Oulu

Someone told me that the first week abroad is the worst one and I can say that this is true. The first week can be totally chaotic, you have many expenses because you have to buy everything you need like food, bus card or bike and in my case, I had to buy cookware because in the apartment that I live there was nothing.

Also you have a lot of things to do like meeting the company where you will make your job learning, trying to make new friends, doing some sightseen, learning a bit of general culture from Finland.

Summarizing if you survive to the first week everything will be fine!

Differences between Spain and Finland 

Weather

My first impression about Finland was the snow, wow, I was so excited to see everything with snow! Because in my city it is not normal to see as much snow as here and I loved it! And of course the weather… I remember that my first day in Oulu we were like -10 C it was totally insane for me and I was freezing! And also I hated that slippery streets… It was a weird situation when I was walking just "like a duck" because I was afraid to slip over! Well I have to say that in all the time I’ve been here in Oulu, I didn’t slip over at all so I’m proud of myself! Nowadays the weather is warmer even though people told me that spring came too late. But comparing with Spain this weather is not spring time, it looks more like winter time for Spanish people

Culture

I was surprised when I got to know the meals schedule that Finnish people have, because is totally different to Spanish. 

(General schedules...) SPAIN  FINLAND 
LUNCH TIME  14:00  11:00 
DINNER TIME  21:00  18:00

Work schedule is also different, definitely I prefer the Finnish work schedule. In Spain we usually work 8 hours for day and it is normal to make some extra hours.

(General schedule
for business office)

SPAIN FINLAND
WORK TIME

09:00 to 14:00
and 
17:00 to 20:00

08:30 to 16:00

At first impression some Finnish people look shy and maybe a bit rude because in Spain we are used to greet everyone. Some of Finns do not greet back or they just look at me with confused face or something like that. So yes, for me this experience was a bit awful because my first weeks I didn’t know how Finnish people are.

Being part of the OSAO staff

As I said before, I worried how I would fit in the company. Well in my case, this is second month doing my job learning in OSAO Kontinkangas and the first impression was excellent, all the staff members are so friendly even some of them that don´t speak English very well they try to communicate with me. They care about me, they are able to help me with anything and they help me to learn more about Finnish culture.

My normal work place was OSAO Kontinkangas Unit as I said before… And I was lucky because I could visit other Units from OSAO, too. My first week I visited the Muhos Unit and I had the chance to see all the animals and I was so happy! Also I spent one week in Myllytulli Unit and I went to Kaukovanio Unit several times to work with one of my classmates from Spain who came to Oulu with me.

Visit other OSAO Units was a very nice and interesting experience, I met more staff from OSAO and I could learn more about how people work in Finland and I felt more integrated in the organization.

During my period in OSAO I’ve prepared some presentations about Spain and I presented to some groups of students. Also I had a meeting with a group of students who were going abroad to Spain, particularly in Alcoy, my city. So I made a helping guide to survive in Alcoy for them and I’ve prepared a document with typical Spanish expressions and words for them. I´ve helped my co-workers with their own projects… Some tasks I made are translating to Spanish some documents for Marketing, scanning and photocopying documents, documents and achieve management and I´ve also designed flyers and accreditations for visitors.

Erasmus+ experience 

I haven’t finished my Erasmus+ job learning yet but I can say that being part of an Erasmus+ project is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. This kind of projects can help you to improve your English or other languages, you learn more about different cultures, it helps you to overcome challenges for yourself, it makes you mature, independent and of course this is very good for your future because companies value the fact that you have been abroad for your job learning.

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