Guide to intercultural communication
TUT brings together students from diverse cultural backgrounds. The Oh Behave guide helps them adapt to the Finnish style of communicating.
In autumn 2009, Senior Researcher Jouni Lyly-Yrjänäinen came up with the idea for a guide that would help incoming students understand the pitfalls of intercultural communication. The need for such a guide was recognized across the campus, as faculty members had noticed that cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings that do not occur in the context of monocultural communication.
Increased awareness of cultural differences
The guide is distributed to both international degree students and
during the orientation week. Further copies are
available at the International Office.
The main impetus for writing the guide was to ease international students' transition into the low-context culture of Finland, meaning that there are fewer unwritten, social rules defining how to behave in a given situation.
Sometimes foreign students are amazed that even teachers and professors from the same faculty may expect different levels of formality from students. Especially Chinese students may find this challenging, because they are used to it that all faculty members expect similar treatment.
In addition, the working group wanted to emphasize that in Finland students enjoy a great deal of academic freedom, but it comes with responsibility.
Rather than a comprehensive guide to intercultural communication, the booklet is intended to introduce students to the nuances of life in Finland, encourage them to reflect on their cultural background, and recognize different communication styles.
"No one style is better than the other, but knowing the Finnish way of communicating helps students get things done here," says coordinator Minna Baggström.