Case 2

Friend Family Program in the University of Lapland

The University of Lapland launched the Friend Family Program in 2003. The feedback has been positive, and the Friend Family Program is currently organized in cooperation with the Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences.

The Friend Family Program allows students to become more closely acquainted with the Finnish culture and customs in addition to providing comfort for possible homesickness. Some of the international students also wish to learn the Finnish language. At the same time, Friend Families can practice their foreign language skills.

The Friend Family Program also gives rise to friendships that do not have to end when the exchange student returns to his/her home country. Informality and reciprocity are the two fundamental pillars of the Friend Family Program. The purpose is not to organize structured activities, but instead the student’s and the family’s personal interests and temporal resources determine the extent and duration of Friend Family activities on a case-by-case basis. Becoming a Finnish Friend does not require anything else but an open mind and an interest toward other cultures.

Suitable Friend Families are families or individuals who are prepared to occasionally include a foreign student in their everyday routines as well as stay in contact with the exchange student according to their personal resources and interest. New Friend Families are sought after every year.