“I love this place. I really like the people here”

Leroy, 26

“My name is Leroy and I’m from Jakarta in Indonesia, the Java Island. I studied advertising and design in Singapore for three years and then I worked there for a year. After that I went back home, helped my dad with his business and decided that I wanted to study in Finland.

I started international business in Turku, that was my first touch in Finland. It was really funny. The first interaction I had in Finland was with the bus driver at Helsinki airport and he was angry and yelling at me because I wanted to help him put my luggage into the baggage hold on the bus. I wished to help him, but he was like “Hey! What are you doing?” I was just trying to help. He was just looking at me. I was confused but I thought maybe this is a different way, maybe they have their own way of doing things. I thought I will ask someone later when I get to know other people. Maybe it’s a common thing that happens here.

When I first arrived it was crazy. It was just like 16 degrees. So for me it was like “Oh my God why is it so cold here” and my friend was just like “Huh? Really? Look at me, I’m wearing a t-shirt. It’s warm dude!” It was the end of summer.

I remember when I told my family I wanted to come to Finland they thought I was crazy. “Why do you wanna go there? It’s cold. You can die there.” And then when I said I wanted to study business they said it doesn’t make sense because all the business and growth is in Indonesia and other places in Asia. They actually had a point, but I just wanted to come and see what’s happening. For me it’s not really about being at a particular university. When I was in Singapore I realised that the most learning I did was cultural learning, the things I see and experience outside school. I learn about how people think and how they behave and then I see their perspective.

In Turku I realised that if you live in a small city, your inner circle are the ones who make the difference. It’s about the people. It takes time, but when you actually know them you really know them. This is something that I really like about Finland, especially Turku. People are honest and there isn’t much social bullshit happening. It is how it is. If you don’t like it you just say you don’t like it, and if they like it they will say they like it. It’s better that way, it is more simple. Because there is no bullshit, I can really trust people. And this is one of the qualities that for me is really important. It means I can open up and not be afraid of what people think because they basically give their opinion.

Before moving here I just kinda knew it’s Finland up there and it’s gonna be cold, that’s it. I wanted to try something that was really radical and totally different. Because I’m from a sunny place, beaches, lying around, having coconut water in my hand. Just chilling. I just chill, you know, it’s normal. Maybe let’s try to go to the coldest place on earth and see what happens.

My life in Turku, one year in Turku, was the best one year of my life. I’m serious. Everything is so nice there, it’s so beautiful. People are amazing. I just loved it. But I felt that maybe it does not really make sense, it felt too nice. Something must be wrong, I thought. Then I realised, oh, I’m already in my comfort zone and my goal is to have my own business so I have to grow more and to do that I should go to Helsinki to study, to also observe business life there.

It was a really tough decision for me. I hated that decision, but I knew I had to do it because I really felt that in Turku everything was just perfect and I didn’t want to live that kind of life. I thought, how can I throw away a life that is so beautiful. But it was necessary to progress. I moved 1.5 years ago. Helsinki is a bigger place so the relationship you have with your friends is not as intimate as it is in Turku. In Turku it was really close, we felt really close.

My studies will end next year and I’m planning to stay here. I love this place. I really like the people here. I like the way they live and interact with other people. I really feel that there is a real human relationship here. Even the most simple things like pure nature, which is a very different kind of nature to what I’m used to. Back home it’s tropical forest and it’s quite a different experience. I don’t feel like threatened by a tiger or poisonous snake or something. I can just roll around doing some things.

I speak better Swedish than Finnish. I know Finnish, but only enough to get me killed in a bar or something. I’ve studied Swedish for 3 or 4 years now. I started in Indonesia a year before I came here. I wanted to go to Finland, right, so I went to the Finnish Embassy and said: “I’m kinda interested to know more about Finnish, do you have a language course here?”. They said no, but you know what, Swedish is the second language and if you go across the road there is the Swedish Embassy. Ask them if they have Swedish language courses. So I just went to the Swedish Embassy and asked if they had a Swedish course and I got in touch with this Swedish teacher who I still know to this day. She taught me so much, not just about language but also culture. My friends are like, “You speak better Swedish than we do. What the hell is wrong with you?” I think it’s much easier especially when you have an English base. I’m still thinking about what the advantage is. I should just learn Finnish. But Swedish is also interesting. I mean, I learn it also just because it’s interesting for me to learn new languages.”

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