Chisaki already knew a couple of things about Finland: the famous Alvar Aalto architecture and furniture, Eliel Saarinen, and of course – Marimekko. She also knew that the Finns are crazy for ice hockey, an unusual hobby for a Japanese girl, but Chisaki’s favourite. In Oulu she easily found a women’s ice hockey team in order to pursue the sport, and she has learned to act as a referee.

Chisaki 019When Chisaki arrived in Oulu in September, the most difficult thing for her was shopping for food. But now even that is not a problem. She has not encountered many differences in studying, but it’s the lifestyle in Finland that is the most different. Chisaki thinks that people in Finland live a much more relaxed life, whereas in Japan they are always running somewhere and work long days.

"I see more families spending time together, playing out in the parks with children. There is more space in people’s minds here," said Chisaki with a smile.

The Finnish stereotype of silent, shy people makes her laugh: "To me the students are much more lively than Japanese, and they are learning so many languages!"

Chisaki described the best part of her exchange so far: "To be able to meet people from so many countries. In the University of Oulu there are five hundred exchange students from all over the world, so I have learned to know not just Finnish people, but all kinds of nationalities. I have also a wonderful Kummi family*, with whom I spend time cooking and playing all kinds of sports."

*The Finnish word “kummi” means godparent, a godmother or a godfather