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“DUTCH IS SUCH A STRANGE LANGUAGE”

Ulpu (27) and Juulia (27) are two friendly Finnish girls who did a 4 month internship in the Sint-Augustinus hospital in Wilrijk. In Finland they study biomedical laboratory sciences, but here in Antwerp they worked in a lab where they do research on how to fight mutations of prostate cancer.

“The work is very interesting for us, because the machines that we use are very rare, for example. Did you know that there are only 20 of them in Europe and none of them in Finland? The research quality is extremely high as well, so we did learn a lot!”

In Finland, research internships are exceptional because most of the laboratories only accept master students. Professional bachelor students are merely trained to work in health centres or at university hospitals. Since Ulpu and Juulia absolutely wanted to gain experience in research, they tried their luck in Belgium. “With regards to the country of our internship, we could choose between Italy, Portugal, Germany and Belgium. We chose the latter because in Belgium the people speak English very well.”

Strange pronunciations

As Ulpu and Juulia speak English, they don’t really have any troubles understanding their colleagues at work. However, when they just started the internship it was quite hard to learn the difficult medical terminology. But that is nothing compared to Dutch. “For us the Dutch pronunciation is so difficult, there is no logic in it at all! In Finland we pronounce the words as they are written. In Belgium you have diphthongs like au, oe, outhat are pronounced very oddly.”

 Unhealthy Belgians

When we ask the girls about their experiences with Belgians their responses are very positive. “Belgian people are more open than Finnish people, very friendly and nice. For example at work, all of our colleagues always offer to help us. Even when we don’t ask for it.”

Belgians also have some strange habits, however, especially with regards to food. Minced chocolate with butter on unhealthy white bread, a lot of fried food and the milk is actually very poor. That’s in stark contrast to Finnish people, who eat quite healthy with lots of dark bread, but also drink a lot of coffee. “We really miss Finnish coffee!”

Weekends are for relaxing

Ulpu and Juulia don’t have much free time because they work long days. On weekends they sometimes have visitors from Finland, they meet with other Erasmus students or they go out for dinner with their colleagues from work. “Also, every week we have one day that we just stay inside, relax and don’t do anything.”

When we get back to Finland…

Ulpu: “The first thing I’ll do is drink one litre of cold, good Finnish milk!”

Juulia: “I will stay at home for a whole week to be with my family, my boyfriend and my cat.”