An International Student in the Language Centre

Anna-Lena Krug.

The first time I have entered the Language Centre was during my Welcome Fair and I do not think I really left since then. When I am not in the building, I study the international Master’s degree programme “Global Politics and Communication”.

I have taken various language classes at the Language Centre as an international degree student and worked as an international Course Assistant as well as an assistant in the OOTU department (Support for Teaching and Learning Unit). All of this brought the work of the Language Centre closer to me.

Then, in August 2019, I started the traineeship at the Language Centre as part of a traineeship program organised by the university to improve internationalisation in the different departments of the university as well as include international degree students into the Finnish working life. A lot of the working language is Finnish. A big reason for this is that the Language Centre has more than 150 members working in different departments. I was part of the OOTU team, which spoke English to include me, but also pushed me from time to time to improve my Finnish skills.

Nonetheless, a lot of the work of the Language Centre is aimed at international students, which is something I have appreciated from the start. As a trainee, I was directly involved in this work and could help to make the predominantly Finnish learning environment here at the university a bit more approachable for international students. A big part of the student life here happens in Finnish, and while, for example, most clubs have no issue translating for non-Finnish students, it is not the same as having activities directly aimed at us internationals. This is why I think the Course Assistance Programme, as well as all the other events and activities the Language Centre is organising, are quite special within the university.

One of these events are the Language Centre workshops. Course assistants, and OOTU assistants in particular, are encouraged to actively participate in the planning phases and bring in their unique voices and experiences. The main part for the assistants is to host and prepare the Language table for the interested students, but in planning meetings before, they had the opportunity to help shape the workshop and the activities as such. Before becoming an OOTU trainee, I was a host for the German table at two workshops and I liked the creative freedom we have had. Looking at the workshop from the perspective of being a trainee was like taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture. It was very interesting to no longer be “just” a student, but to also have a deeper knowledge of the structures and happenings that makes the Language Centre and its activities what they are.

This creative freedom was not only restricted to the Language Centre workshops, but translated to most of my work. I really enjoyed that I was able to influence what I wanted the job to be. I worked mostly together with working professionals and, therefore, I was happy to include a student’s perspective into the work environment, especially one that was not necessarily Finnish. I could include my own voice and interests in the preparation of various events or write about the aspects I found interesting and important in a personal blog.

My time in Helsinki and, therefore, my time in the Language Centre, is slowly drawing to its close. I have enjoyed the work, the people and the whole environment here immensely and I would not want to miss the experiences I have made.

Text: Anna-Lena Krug, international trainee