What is truly international university? The starting point is a university which has students, researchers and lectures from different countries. But, this is not enough. These members of the university should also communicate, study, and work together. It would be even better, if they would sometimes spend free time together, because this would enable profound interaction between them.
From my opinion, this is not the current situation in the University of Turku, although, it could be achieved. I think the communication between Finnish members and non-Finnish members of our university is mainly taking place in official occasions and less often in informal situations. Examples of these can be found among master students and doctoral students.
Master level courses in Information System Science and in Information Technology department often have international participants. However, it is rare to see international students in the student happenings which are meant for the undergraduate students. Of course, happenings for exchange students are an exception, but for my understanding Finnish students are rare in exchange student meetings. It is also possible to notice, that international students and Finnish students often spend time within their own groups between classes or during the lunch.
Similar invincible barriers of communication appear between Finnish doctoral students and international doctoral students. During the last year, I noticed that Finnish doctoral students and international doctoral students of Information Systems Science do not know each other well. In some cases, they do not even know they study the same field. In other cases, they know each other’s appearance because they have met in the research seminars, but otherwise they have not discussed together.
I see the lack of communication between Finnish and non-Finnish doctoral students as a problem because it prevents fruitful discussion between doctoral students. If the discussion takes place, doctoral students from different countries could share experiences and possibly find common research interest.
Anyone can improve the interaction with doctoral students, who have different nationality than one self has. The simplest form of interaction is greeting, which will create possibilities for conversation. Although, time or place would not be suitable for discussion, greeting itself most often provokes positive feelings, thus, causing good atmosphere in the given context. If the situation allows it, one can decide to engage in the conversation with the doctoral student with different nationality. After a while, the both probably know if they have nothing in common. If some common ground is found either from academic or personal point of view, one can suggest that the conversation could be continued later on. Perhaps, the result of this experiment could be a co-written scientific publication.