Interview with Nelli Asikainen: The tutor is a diplomat

Nelli Asikainen, 23, hails from the town of Varkaus. Nelli is about to complete her studies in English Philology in the University of Helsinki. She is an outgoing personality and has travelled widely for her age. Nelli did not have to think long before deciding to start as a tutor: she wanted international work.

“I spent six months in England as an exchange student in 2010 and enjoyed the experience”, Nelli says.

Earlier Nelli had received good tutoring, and this inspired her to start as a tutor in Finland. “Finland is an exotic and alien country to many international students.” Nelli wants to help the students settle in, give them useful tips and generally be of help. Tutoring is also a way to make friends with folks around the world and gain new perspectives.

“I have gathered good experience and widened my horizons”, Nelli continues. International students network with each other, too. It is important to know people from different countries from one’s own field. At the same time, you learn new ways to accomplish things, and the acquired contacts are valuable when hunting for a job.

“The tutors are many international students’ first link to Finland. It’s vital to give them a good introduction to the country and some practical tips to survive in everyday life.”

Nelli is the tutor of altogether 15 international students. A sociable, easily approachable tutor is a valuable companion. The first weeks are busy, sensitive and crucial. “I have to work together with the students to arrange apartments and travel cards for them, and introduce them to the university.”

Nelli spends more time tutoring than the obligatory 12 hours. She has made friends with her tutees, and time flies in their company. Most of Nelli’s tutees have been satisfied with their exchange studies in Helsinki.

Nelli hopes that cooperation between the faculty and international students will become more intensive.

“We definitely need more hours. The groups are big and twelve hours is not much!”

Nelli sends her greetings to the universities of applied sciences and encourages them to take up tutoring, too.


Saamio Mohamud, VALOA-trainee and journalist