A journey through the wonderful world of internationalization

The current times have challenged internationalization in unforeseen ways. As borders have closed and travel restrictions tightened the internationalization efforts have also come to a halt, at least when it comes to mobilities. At another front, this unusual era has worked as a propeller for innovation, harnessed to discover alternative routes of internationalization. In between obstacles and innovation, we are living exciting times when it comes to the future prospects of internationalization of higher education. This is also visible in the new Erasmus+ programme season (2021-2027) where the priorities are set on inclusivity, environment and climate action, and digital transformation.  The future is sustainable, digital and includes us all.

At the forefront of this expedition, we want to welcome you to the new blog of Laurea’s international services. The intention of the blog is to bring the wonderful world of internationalization closer to Laurea’s students and staff. The blog is run by Laurea’s international services, but also students and staff interested about internationalization are encouraged to take part and publish their ideas. As the intention is also to introduce the work of Laurea’s international services, our first blog post will be devoted to introducing our team.

Tiina Päivärinne, Director of HR and International Affairs

Will you introduce yourself and tell us about your job position in Laurea?

I’m Tiina Päivärinne and director of HR and international affairs. I started in Laurea as an HR Director a little longer than four years ago and since our previous Director of International affairs Arja Majakulma retired by the end of last year, I’ve had a dual position both in HR and in International affairs. I have a long background in HR, but this international part is new for me. I have learned a lot during the past months, but still feel some uncertainty in many occasions. Luckily I have this wonderful and extremely talented international team to work with!

What motivates you in your job?

I have done my whole career in higher education sector in one way or another; first as a researcher in history, and in science and technology studies, later in different administrative positions in University of Helsinki and Aalto University. In all my jobs, in this current one and in all previous ones, I’ve felt this is my modest contribution to make the world a little better place for future generations.  

What is the country that you want to travel again and why?

Italy! We have spent many wonderful holidays in Italy when our kids were little… Just love it, both the country and the memories

What do you like to do outside work hours?

As all of our three kids are still living with us, there is always quite a lot to do at home. Besides that, I like travelling, cross-country skiing (my favorite sport!) and jogging. I’m a constant user of our local library as well as the nice jogging route around the nearby Malmi Airport.

Conrad Lyaruu, Senior Specialist, International Affairs

Will you introduce yourself and tell us about your job position in Laurea?

My name is Conrad Lyaruu, Laurea Senior Specialist in the International Affairs office. I am responsible for the internationalization of business Education for both Bachelor and Master students. I am as well coordinating Erasmus, TFK and North to North programmes at Laurea.

What motivates you in your job?

I am an international person. The key motivation to my work is working with and in support to the international aspired people. Deal with diversity enjoy being different and use it to bring unique touch of purpose in my everyday work.

What is the country that you want to travel again and why?

I would like to travel to a country that I could make an impact or at least learn a trick on making impacts to people and communities around them. As I have travelled enough in my life, I do not miss so much an ordinary travel experience. I could take up a work assignment abroad and this can be in any country.

What do you like to do outside work hours?

Outside my work hours, I like to do outdoor work, play with my little kids, do some YouTube, check out my private projects and try to stay away from calls as much as possible.

Riikka Lindholm, Senior Specialist, International Affairs

Will you introduce yourself and tell us about your job position in Laurea?

I am Riikka, senior specialist in Laurea’s international services and I have been working at Laurea a bit over four years now. My tasks in the team include coordinating and developing international exchanges, traineeships and partner network in Hospitality Management degree programmes. I am also the main user of our SoleMove mobility database, and all kinds of development projects from Online International Learning initiatives to things related to the safety in mobility are on my table – the days vary a lot and the work definitely never gets boring.

What motivates you in your job?

My biggest motivator aside from our team and my colleagues are our students – it is amazing to see and hear about the personal and professional development that students get during their time abroad, and to be a small part in that journey is really a privilege! I also really like to network with our partners all around the world. Maybe I could say that people motivate me.

What is the country that you want to travel again and why?

Oh, there are so many places I want to return to and especially now that my suitcase is dustier than it has ever been before! My forever favourites are Chile where I spent my student exchange ages ago, and Spain – specifically the Basque country and Barcelona have taken my heart with their restaurants, wines and sceneries.

What do you like to do outside work hours?

My ”hobbies” are quite traditional: I love to travel whenever that is possible again, and I really enjoy reading books (and watching a lot of Netflix). But my dearest hobby is food: cooking, eating in restaurants, talking about food, reading about food, watching others cook on tv… You get the picture. So if you ever feel like talking about the latest new restaurants or what to have for dinner – hit me up!

Anna Joutsijoki, Planning Officer, International Affairs

Will you introduce yourself and tell us about your job position in Laurea?

I am Anna Joutsijoki and I am working as a planning officer at Laurea’s international services. My main role is the internationalization of social services and health care students. In addition, I have the overall responsibility of outgoing students, including i.e. marketing and our go abroad-study unit for outgoing exchange students. This job has taught me a lot and I have really liked working here. I am however leaving this position starting from 24.9., as I will be moving to my own field of social work. I am excited for the new prospects, but at the same time sad to say bye to this current position.

What motivates you in your job?

I am motivated by being able to make a positive impact in the society.  Here I have been able to do that by enabling students to gain international experiences. Student exchanges are a great way for students with different range of backgrounds, resources and needs to get international while receiving support to make this come true. At their best, these international experiences can not only transform the individuals experiencing them, but also have the potential to create positive impacts on wider societies, through raising awareness and global solidarity. One aspect that I have appreciated the most in working at Laurea is that you can really utilize your personal interests and skills. For me this passion project has been to develop internationalization activities to be more responsible, ethical and sustainable.

What is the country that you want to travel again and why?

Out of those countries that I have visited, I would say that Kenya always calls my name, as it is the first foreign country I ever travelled to and where I did my two traineeships. Another country that left a lasting impact is Mexico, which even after months of backpacking around left such a variety of places waiting for a visit. As I do tend to focus on the quality over quantity on my travels and take also sustainability questions into consideration it might take me time to visit these places again, as there are also so many other’s I’d like to visit. I am nevertheless ready to take it easy and do look forward to any exploration that comes my way.

What do you like to do outside work hours?

I love swimming, exploring both near and far, reading and studying, taking part in volunteer or association work, and spending time with my husband, dog and family and friends.

Kirsi Viitaharju, Planning Officer, International Affairs

Will you introduce yourself and tell us about your job position in Laurea? 

My name is Kirsi Viitaharju. I work as a planning officer at Laurea International Services. My main responsibility is coordinating student exchanges and internationalization in three degree programmes: Business Information Technology, Beauty and Cosmetics, and Safety, Security and Risk Management. I addition to this, I have been coordinating the overall process of our incoming exchange students and acting as Laurea’s contact person to HOAS regarding exchange student housing. Currently, the digitalization process of the Erasmus+ programme, the European Student Card (ESC) Initiative, is an important part of our work. Implementing the new digital tools step by step following the European Commission’s timeline is a big task that will extend to the coming academic years. My role is to follow the developments in the ESC process and represent Laurea in the national Erasmus Without Paper team coordinated by the Finnish national Agency of Education.

What motivates you in your job?

I find my motivation in the active and enthusiastic Laurea students interested in everything international. It is rewarding to follow their exchanges and see them having great experiences abroad. Also, connecting with colleagues in different countries and institutions offers so many new ideas and valuable insights into developing international activities.

What is the country that you want to travel again and why?

I spent four months working in Stuttgart during my own studies and came to love this cozy student city a lot. In addition to the city itself, there are a lot of nice places not too far away e.g. in Schwarzwald and at the Bodensee. I have visited Stuttgart once after my traineeship but I would love to go back for a third time and perhaps combine it with a bike trip around the beautiful Bodensee.

What do you like to do outside work hours?

A lot of my free time is spent outdoors exploring the parks and islands in Helsinki. At times you will find me in Ostrobothnia at our old family farm house. I love to read books and visit the theatre every once in a while. I can warmly recommend National Theatre Live screenings that will hopefully return to Finnish cinemas after the corona break.

Chaitanya Marthala, Coordinator, International Affairs

Will you introduce yourself and tell us about your job position in Laurea?

I go by the name Chaitanya, I’m an extrovert and am always interested in talking to new people. I have been a part of the international team for a little over a year now. I first started as an intern and since then I have been responsible for incoming student exchange process, partnership management as well as assisting students with questions they have on their exchanges.

What motivates you in your job?

My main motivation for work is to better myself. I always want to improve myself and learn new things about internationalization. There are many motivational factors that effect my work life here in Laurea. External motivational factors such as sweet team members, work environment, interesting work tasks, multi-cultural event help to keep up my motivation to its peaks.

What is the country that you want to travel again and why?

I would want to visit Italy and more specifically Rome because of its history and mythology. I have always been interested in ancient life and history. Some of the other places I would love to visit are Spain, France, Hawaii, Japan due to their particular attractions.

What do you like to do outside work hours?

I mostly like to spend my time alone with myself on the other hand I have quite number of friends who help me keep myself busy all the time. I’m a foodie and like to try new food every time there is a chance. I play a lot of video games and FPS games. In fact, I am also in few gaming clubs. Other than these, I do like to watch anime, Netflix, read comics and Manhawas.

Lida Nazari, Trainee, International Affairs

Will you introduce yourself and tell us about your job position in Laurea?

I’m Lida, trainee at international affairs office. I’m studying Service Business Management at Laurea UAS and I will be graduating December 2021. My role at International office is to help and assist the team in different tasks and provide service for students and other stuff when needed.

What motivates you in your job?

I like that Laurea is very international working place. Everyday there is something new to learn and most importantly what motivates me at my job is having a friendly and supportive team. I got more motivated after I met the team. They are always there to answer questions and help if needed.

What is the country that you want to travel again and why?

The country I want to I want to travel again is my home country Afghanistan. I haven’t been there in years. It is a beautiful place and I have some friends and families still there and a lot of good memories.

What do you like to do outside work hours?

Well, as a parent there is a lot to do outside work hours 😊 but aside from the activities I do with my child I like to go cycling, walk in the nature and do photography.

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