- 1.Social politics and international affairs
Hi, I’m Patricia, a 2nd year international Master’s student, and this year I’ve been responsible for social politics and international affairs in the executive board of the student union. I will share my thoughts on being in the board as an international student, and I will try to sum up all the things that belonged to this year.
How did I end up here?
I completed my Bachelor degree in Finland as well, in Oulu. It was shortly after the beginning of my studies that I got interested in student organization activities. I already spoke some Finnish at the time, so I decided to give it a try, and I gradually got involved more and more in the world of student advocacy. I belonged to various executive boards, I was a member of the student council, and I was also in the executive board of the student union. I have “seen everything”.
When I came to LUT last autumn to start my Master’s studies, I decided that I would take a break from it all, and I would be concentrating solely on my studies, and just enjoy the two final years of my student life. However, I somehow found myself sitting in the lounge of LTKY almost every day, getting to know some members of the previous board, and enjoyed listening to discussions about the student union, advocacy and related topics and it made me realize that I missed this world.
So this tiny thought started to emerge in my head: how about one more year? At first I tried to silent this thought, as it did not fit my plans, but it became louder and louder, so eventually I gave in. One more year it is!
What have I been doing?
In the board my main responsibility was social affairs and international affairs. Social politics might sound boring at first, but it is actually very important. The most significant topic in social politics this year were the elections. In 2019 Finland had parliamentary elections, and then there were the European Parliamentary elections in the spring, then this autumn the student union held its own elections.
In the spring my responsibilities concerning these events included being in contact with political parties, organizing an election fair and panel discussion. Raising awareness and promoting the importance of active participation in the elections was done by participating in the nationwide “voting queue” event together with other student unions. The responsibilities of the social politics also include themes and issues related to the students’ health, well-being, living and housing situations.
My other role, international affairs included tasks such as keeping track of international activity in guilds, meeting with international representatives, participating in the Finnish National Agency for Education Erasmus audit, collecting feedback to SYL about residence permit issues. During the year I also participated in various other board-related activities, travelled hundreds of kilometers to seminars and meetings, had interesting discussions about advocacy, grew my network and had fun with new friends.
Do I recommend joining the board?
In short, yes. For me personally, was a very good year, with participating in interesting projects, visiting numerous lectures and seminars, meeting awesome new people from all over Finland and around the globe. There is constantly something happening, which can be overwhelming at times, but that is also the beauty of it. Scheduling is the key, this way you can give your best to the board-related activities, at the same time progress with your studies and also have fun in your free time.
If you are an international student, and would be interested in joining, I have to say a few things about the language requirements. The working language of the student union is Finnish, so knowledge of the language is absolutely necessary, not only for the professional part, but also for day to day activities and interaction in the office. However, in my opinion, you don’t need to be perfectly fluent. You can probably do well with intermediate Finnish, a B2 level should be perfectly fine as a start. Your language skills will automatically improve anyway.
Also, previous knowledge about advocacy is not a requirement, as long as you are truly interested in the topic. You will learn all you need very quickly. So be brave, and do not miss this great opportunity!
Writer is member of LTKY board who is responsible of Social Politics and International Affairs