In Belgium the earliest classes start at 8:30 sharp. In Finland it’s 15 minutes earlier so that was something I had to adapt to. Another thing about the duration of the lectures is that in Belgium one lectures is one hour, meaning 60 minutes. I was surprised that in Turku one hour of class is actually only 45 minutes and that the remaining 15 minutes are break. In my opinion it’s very good to give the students a break during the lessons, but when I have a two hour class, it’s only a one and a half hour class. Furthermore, something I noticed in class is that students are allowed to stand up and go out of the room. This can be for different reasons, for example to make a phone call, to fill their water bottle or to go to the bathroom. In Belgium this is not done. You have to ask permission to leave the room. The teacher will always say yes, but even so, we have to ask it.
The next difference I encountered was in the cafeteria. At my school everyone eats a warm meal around 12 o’clock. In Belgium some people do that as well since we do have a school restaurant, but most of the students bring sandwiches or a salad. In my home country we can eat a bowl of soup at noon in the cafeteria, but I haven’t seen it yet at Sepänkatu campus. In my home institution we drink water, soda, coffee or tea with our meal but in Turku they drink milk with their meal. The first time I saw it, the guy was eating pasta I guess, so I thought that it was quite a normal combination. The next day someone was eating fish with potatoes and there was a glass of milk on the tray. Finnish people and their milk and milk products seem to be like an inseparable combination.
Text & photo: Elise Ploem