RIVA SANDHIAJAYA moved here from Indonesia over ten years ago for his graduate studies, which have now motivated him to help improve the education system in Indonesia.

What do you do here in Finland?

I am currently running a small company with some friends to promote educational cooperation between Indonesia and Finland (www.necs.fi). We are still in a very early stage, but we have clear goals on what has to be done to improve the quality of the Indonesian education system by learning from Finland’s expertise and experience.

When and how did you end up here?

I still remember the day I arrived, 1 September 2001. I came to get my master’s degree in political science from the University of Tampere. I have had really good experience with the Finnish education system since the early start. I also recently graduated from Hanken from an Executive MBA program.

What attracts you about the Finnish culture?

Discipline! Finns respect the law and this is something that I wish could happen everywhere else in the world.

What culture shocks did you experience when coming to Finland?

I have never seen so many drunk people in one place. It was my first vappu.

Have you been able to settle and integrate into Finnish society?

I will always look different of course, but putting that to the side, Finnish people quickly open up and accept me pretty fast. Each time two different cultures meet, it will take some adjustment, willingness to learn and tolerance to accept each other’s differences.

What are/were your worries?

I was worried that my English wasn’t good enough, and now my English is still as bad but it seems that I was able to survive.

What are your future hopes and wishes for your life here?

Pretty simple actually, I hope our economic situation will improve soon. Lately I feel that people are a bit over stressed by the economic crisis, etc. These worries affected society that is now a bit tense and not as calm and relaxed as it used to be.

What is your favorite Finnish word?

Dallaspulla (I am a big fan of Finnish pastry).

Sarrah Kassem