Our first “date” was in Albertin Kellari – Friendship story


International student (left) Mona
International student (middle) HAMK 2nd year student
Finnish local (right) Hippu
Year when friendship started 2021
Matching type 2 international students + 1 Finnish local friend
NB: HAMK Friend Family programme has been officially renamed as International Friendship Programme since autumn 2023.


“Our first date was in Albertin Kellari where we enjoyed a live music together. We were getting to know each other, and we ended up dancing and having many laughs.”

Sometimes, a lifelong friendship starts in a bar where you dance and laugh together… and it happened.

Our foreign students meet their Finnish local friend at a bar for their first meeting.

“Cooking, Finnish dinner, nights out, hanging out, day trips, and a 4-day trip to Italy.”

We do what friends do.

In the friendship programme, matched friends can cook and eat dinner together, go camping, hiking, cycling, and shopping, watch a movie or an ice-hockey match, participate in concerts, or go to a Finnish cottage together. It is all up to you to decide!

“I enjoy the fact that she makes me experience things in a Finnish way and explore places that only locals know.”

“I get to build connections while everything is new for me, and I try to make the best out of the journey by experiencing the routine of Finns´.”

Having a Finnish local friend is like owning a key to the “mysterious” Finnish culture. What is a Finnish way of doing things? What are those mummo-like secret places that only locals will go? What is a Finnish local´s everyday life like? What might surprise us? There is not any more direct way to find out then having a local friend.

“It is a great opportunity to get a closer look at the Finnish culture and engage with it.”

“It’s really good program to get to know locals at the first year and blend in the culture of Finland by knowing more aspects about it.”

The Friendship programme (known as Friend Family programme before 2021) connects foreign students studying at HAMK´s English taught degree programmes with Finnish local families, friends, and company representatives. It is a great opportunity for Finnish locals and foreign students to learn about each other´s culture. It is also a key programme offered by HAMK to support foreign students´ integration into the Finnish society and culture.

“You can truly make friends through this programme, and it is a great way to learn more about Finland.”

International Friendship Programme 2023 will be open again in autumn this year. Stay tuned by following HAMK´s social media or website at https://www.hamk.fi/friend-family-programme. Sign up for the programme when the registration link is open.

— Share your friendship story with us! —

Share your work or frienship story on HAMK´s blog! HAMK talent boost encourages foreign students to inspire, encourage and empower one and another through their own work and everyday life experience.

For work stories: Fill in My work/volunteering/project experience in Finland survey.

For friendship stories: fill in My friendship story survey (for students)

Contact qingyang.li@hamk.fi for more information.

Mona Achaaoud from Smart and Sustainable Design English taught degree programme &
A second-year student from Construction Engineering English taught degree programme
The story is edited by Qingyang Li, Talent Boost Mentor from HAMK International, based on student´s answer to the My Friendship story survey.
I met Mona in one of our campus tours and Mona was happy to share her contact information with me. I contacted Mona about half year later and asked her to share her stories with us. Mona was really helpful and fast in replying to my emails. Her friends also shared their experience and thoughts respectively.
Thank you all for sharing.


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