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International Friendship Programme

HAMK International Friendship Program connects HAMK’s international students with local residents!

Do you want a new international friend? Do you want to learn more about a language or culture? Or would you like to mentor an international student in everyday activities or even from a business perspective? – Join us, this programme is for you!

At HAMK, there are international students who are looking for local friends. The International Friendship Programme provides students with the opportunity to get acquainted with everyday Finnish life, culture, and local customs, thus expanding their support network in Finland. For those participating as local host friends, the program offers the chance to make new international friends, through whom they can explore different cultures, practice languages, or even engage in professional discussions.

International students come from over 70 different countries and represent various cultures. The programme is based on open-minded, respectful, and non-judgmental thinking. The fundamental requirement of the program is that friendships are built with open and unbiased minds, regardless of countries or cultural backgrounds.

Fill in an application to join!

Moderate English language skills and a willingness to spend some time with an international friend are all you need to get started.

The activity is voluntary and open to all individuals aged 18 and above. You can join alone, with a friend, as a Finnish student, as a family, or as a representative/entrepreneur from a company.

The application will be open throughout summer.

Activities can range from anything like having coffee together, engaging in shared hobbies, cooking, going for walks, practicing languages, visiting museums, or even attending company visits and having professional discussions. You decide together with your international student friend what activities to engage in. There are no financial obligations associated with the programme; generally, everyone is responsible for their own expenses and insurance and decides on their own budget.

After the registration period ends, the staff at HAMK will match the international students and local host friends. Following this, the first meeting will be organized on campus, where participants in the Friendship Program will discuss among themselves how they plan to meet in the future and exchange contact information.

A few words about cultural differences

Students come from different cultures, so it’s important to note that small things can have different significance and meanings in different cultures. As a result, these differences may sometimes lead to misunderstandings or confusion. In such situations, it’s always advisable to communicate about the issue so that concerns are addressed and perspectives can be better understood in the future.

If you want to prepare food for your friend, please make sure in advance about any allergies, dietary restrictions, or beliefs.

We Finns take pride in our sauna culture, but remember that sauna might be unfamiliar to someone from abroad. If you want to offer a sauna experience to your friend, it’s a good idea to discuss it beforehand.

If you have any questions or issues, please reach out to HAMK staff, specifically the campus coordinators responsible for the Friendship Programme. One of the fundamental principles of the program is to prioritize the well-being, safety, and cultural differences of both parties in all activities. We will collect feedback from participants, which will help us in developing and improving the International Friendship Programme.

Who can join as a local friend?

• A family of any kind (a couple, a family with or without children)
• Empty nesters, for example couples whose children have grown up and moved away
• A single adult
• A pensioner or retired person
• An alumnus of a university community who lives in the campus municipality or its vicinity
• A local resident with immigration background
• Finnish speaking students studying at HAMK, HAMI or any local schools
• A company mentor

About joining as a company mentor
Please note that by joining as a company mentor, your relationship with the matched international student friend is also based on friendship. Talking about work and career is just one of the many friendship activities you can do together.

If you or your company is interested in organising a mentorship programme, please visit International students in cooperation – HAMK and contact Tiina Björkskog.

Who can join as a foreign student friend?

A non-Finnish native student studying for a whole degree at HAMK
• bachelor´s or master´s
• full time or part time
• the student might have lived in Finland for some time before studying at HAMK.
• the student might have just arrived in Finland and started the studies at HAMK.

How does the programme work?

The programme is organised once a year. Registration is usually open in the spring and will stay open until autumn. After the registration form is closed, the matching process will start. Once the matching process is finished, we will kickstart the programme by organising a get together meeting, which is usually held around October – November. In this get together meeting, you get to meet up with your friends. The event is family friendly, which means families, partners and spouses are also welcomed to join. After the meeting, you decide when to meet up again and where. You build the friendship in your own way.
The programme does not have an intended end date. Quite often the matched friends remain in contact after years. Therefore, it can be a lifetime friendship.
We will send follow up greeting messages and feedback survey to you.
You can share your experience and give us feedback at any time by filling in the survey link below.

What campus is the programme organised on?

The HAMK International Friendship Programme connects HAMK´s international degree students and locals, and it is organised on all our seven campuses:

What can matched friends do together?

You can do what friends do! For example,
Grill sausages
Go hiking
Go to the nature
Play video games or boardgames
Play board games
Cook and bake
Do sports and exercise
Listen to music
Watch a movie
Do handicrafts
Learn new languages
Go travelling
Explore photograph
Go swimming and have sauna
Visit museums
Go shopping

Important notice about the matching

The matching is largely based on the information given in the registration form. Important criteria for the matching are for example, location of residence, pets, interests, and hobbies. If there is more than one international student friend for the local, we also consider combining students from different degree programmes and cultures.

We try our best to meet the applicants´ wishes and expectation. However, we do not guarantee that everyone can get a matched friend, or the matched friend will meet all your expectations.

Keys to successful participation

The keys to the successful participation in this programme are language, interests, mutual understandings, and time.

Most friendship pairs´ communication language is English. There might also be other languages depending on the pair.

Having genuine interests for each other´s cultures and experiences is key motivation for building a friendship. It is important that you are willing to share your experience, stories and introduce your cultures, for example by doing things together, which are related to your own culture.

Respect others. Intercultural encounters are sensitive occasions. Differences exists among all of us, and we need to acknowledge and respect them. When differences arise and they start hindering the development of friendship, it is good to have open conversations and find ways to understand each other.

The last key factor to building a healthy friendship is find time to meet. Meeting at least once a month is recommended. In between meetings, it is important to keep in touch via phone calls, messages, or via social media.


This programme is entirely voluntary.

Participants can withdraw from the programme at any time. In this case, please inform about the changes by contacting the campus contact person.

There is no guarantee that a new friend can be found if the friendship discontinues after the programme has started.

The local friend does not have any financial obligations towards the student; studies, accommodation and recreational activities are paid by the international students themselves.

The local friend may not use the student as workforce (e.g. as a babysitter) unless both parties’ consent to the arrangement and conclude a written agreement.

The well-being, safety and cultural differences of both parties must always be taken into consideration.

If some problems or questions arise, local friends and international student friends should turn to the campus´ contact person at HAMK.

More information about the programme

Simply fill in the application form. Application is usually open in the spring and will stay open until autumn. When the registration period is open, the registration link will be open and published on HAMK´s website.

The programme does not have an intended end date. Quite often the matched friends remain in contact after years. Therefore, it can be a lifetime friendship.

By joining as a company mentor, your relationship with the matched international student friend is also based on friendship. But on top of that, you can also talk more about work life and career related topics. Mentors can also invite international student friend to visit the company or the workplace.

If you or your company is interested in organising a mentorship programme, please visit International students in cooperation – HAMK and contact Tiina Björkskog.

Yes, you can. You can join the programme as a group. Write down the number of participants in your group and their names in the application form.

We are happy that you are interested in participating in the programme again, and you can apply again. We try our best to find you a matched friend.

After the application for the programme has ended, the matching process will start. We will inform you via emails when we find a matched friend for you. We will also send an invitation via emails to a get-together meeting, where you will meet your matched friend(s).

International students and locals that are matched will be invited to a get-together meeting. You will get to know each other and exchange contact information. After the first meeting, you decide when and where to meet again.

Contact us




Forssa ja Mustiala

The program coordinator