Taylah Clark and Justin Spiroski are the first Australian students from the Western Sydney University to come to TAMK for an exchange experience in the paramedicine and emergency care field. None of them have been to Finland before, so we asked them a few questions.
Can you tell us about your studies back home and how did you end up in Tampere?
Taylah: We’re studying paramedicine; it’s our 3rd and final year. We are the first group of students to be sent internationally for a different learning experience.
Justin: It was a big process with many applicants and we had to choose between England, Finland and South Africa. I wanted to come to Finland because the Scandinavian health care is really good and it sounded like a challenging experience. Weather conditions are exactly the opposite back home and there was also the language barrier to consider.
Any expectations before coming here?
Taylah: I had no idea what to expect. I only knew the flag color.
Justin: I knew it was going to be cold. I’ve never been below zero and on my first day here, there were -28 degrees.
Taylah: We had to buy new shoes, jackets and gloves. It felt like we had to learn how to walk again when it got below zero because it was so icy. We both slipped over and fell in the snow. I thought that now, I’m Finnish (she laughs).
Justin: I had never seen snow before coming here. I had a snowflake in my hand and I kept staring at it. We made snow balls and snow angels. It’s been good.
You worked at the central fire station and in ambulances in Tampere for five weeks. Have you noticed any differences in the technical equipment used in Finland compared to Australia? What about the procedures?
Taylah: I would say most of the equipment is pretty similar but the technology is more advanced in Finland. For example, our ambulances don’t have ultrasound, only the emergency ones, while yours do. You go the extra mile. Otherwise, simulations are quite the same.
Justin: I think that one of the things we do better at home is the information given to paramedics from dispatch. We provide full details and we ask a lot more questions. If the paramedics would knew more information about the patient, it would be much easier to deal with the situation.
Share some funny or memorable moments with us.
Taylah: It was funny sometimes with the language barrier and that many Finnish people introduce themselves saying that their English is not good and then you have a 10-minute conversation in English with no problems.
Justin: If there is any advice I would give to a Finnish person, it would be this: Your English is great! Use it! Don’t be shy! And memorable moments… jumping naked into the snow and ice water was memorable.
Are you planning to come back?
Taylah: Definitely! If Finnish language was an option to learn, I would come back for sure. I could start with three months, work in a bar and learn the language meantime. I’m sure the Aussie bar in Hämeenkatu will hire us (she laughs). Actually, I want to experience the Finnish summer in 2018.
Justin: I wouldn’t hesitate to come back or recommend it to any of my friends. It was cold, but warm in the same time because everyone treated us so nicely.
Taylah: Considering I did this for my degree, I had so much fun. I’m not sure how many people can say that. It was a life learning experience as well. I have never been away from home for so long. I feel I have learned a lot and I’m more confident about the way I handle new things.
Justin: It felt great to be so far away from home, but in the same time to be made feel like home.
Interview has been condensed and edited.
Text & photo: Andruta Ilie