It’s been now a little bit over one month here in TAMK, working as the new social welfare counsellor. During this time I’ve been trying to figure out this organization, get to know a lot of people and also had the time to admire the views from my offices window as my office is located of the top of the S-building. I was hired to TAMK to work with foreign degree students and in the beginning it just means meeting people, hearing what they have to say, gathering experiences/info and making plans on those things that I’ve heard.
The main objective of my work with degree students is to give support in everyday life. Social matters and issues are my area if expertise, but I have to know a little bit about everything. Guiding, counselling and giving information for students in a wide range of different issues: Living in Finland and Finnish culture, accommodation and housing, residence permit and registration, working and taxes, social allowance and students’ financial aid, finding social networks (inside or outside school) and also other problems.
If a foreign student doesn’t know where, how, what: they can come and ask. Or when one just needs to talk to somebody. I have the obligation to maintain secrecy (and basically I am not much of a blabbermouth), so private issues are safe with me. As to my personality: I’m just a bit of a thinker and as some Finns are: quiet and calm, I am a sort of a prototype of a Finn. Yet I can use high-pressure methods when needed.
In spite and because of the fact that I am the only social welfare counsellor in TAMK, I will be cooperating with the rest of the staff: student counselors and secretaries, teachers, pastor, health care etc. And of course student’ union Tamko’s staff and tutors will be my partners in cooperation. During this spring and summer I will be making new contacts inside and outside TAMK, and hopefully I will get excited people to work with me from different kind of organizations.
Although my main objective is to support the foreign students, I hope trough my work, we can find ways that bring good things in student life in general. The wellbeing of one is eventually benefit for the community and vice versa. Usually we see the domino effect in practice when something bad happens, but it’s still there when something good happens, you see it if you stop and look closely.
Different kinds of ideas are developing and things that are coming up are: meetings with students and groups and hopefully some activities like international get-together. And I am also planning to get some kind of Survival kit for degree students, a similar kind what exchange students have had the chance to have. But everything is still under construction so let’s see what I’ve done by the time next autumn semester starts. I am hopeful.
Text and photo: Emilia Seppä