Students' stories

Hairdresser student Laura Baudini’s weeks in Turku

Spring brought not only sunshine but also a radiant visitor from the small French town of Villefranche de Rouergue near the Pyrenees. Her two-week visit to Finland and practical training at the Bleis Salon under the guidance of owner Heli Tikkanen evidently went swimmingly, because Laura Baudini says she would like to come back to Finland again.

She didn’t know much about Finland other than Father Christmas and snow, and that there are tall, blonde people here. She really didn’t have any prior expectations, because not much is written about Finland in France. Her understanding was, however, that people act honestly.

“Finland is far away and the flights cost quite a bit. It is nonetheless easy to get to,” ponders Laura.

She originally had the opportunity for an apprenticeship exchange in either Italy or Finland, but exotic Finland won the day.

“Finland felt like somewhere you can go perhaps once in a lifetime. Perhaps a second time too, but preferably in summer,” she adds.

Two weeks a suitable period

For the owner, Heli Tikkanen, this student exchange was the first. A positive attitude to the exchange was helped by her own work experience in France last autumn. She organised a varied programme including things outside the actual practical training.

“It was a good experience and I would be happy to take more exchange students in the future. She (Laura) got to know my colleagues well, and did colouring, styling and cutting. We visited hairdressing institutes and wholesalers. For example, we followed the Hair Show that just happened to be organised at the time by hairdressers in Turku,” says Heli.

Laura spoke good English, and got on well with customers. One difference with France was the opening times for hairdressers.

“In France, hairdressers are not open on Mondays. On the other hand, however, they can stay open until 11 in the evening. Here customers are friendly and you feel as if you are welcome everywhere. Even young people with wild-looking multi-coloured hair behave in a disciplined fashion and wait their turn. In France, young people go here and there, demanding to be served first,” says Laura.

New experiences and perspectives

Laura did not have time to say too much about her home town, but its history dates back a long time. Dolmens, aqueducts, monasteries and churches tell of a far-reaching past. In a short space of time, Laura got to see much in Turku too. For a girl who likes roaming in the mountains, she found walking on the ice at Ruissalo to be an interesting experience, but she also had good things to say about Forum Marinum and Turku Cathedral.

“I took long walks along the River Aura and visited museums. I took hundreds of photos. At home I don’t like the atmosphere of churches, but here it was somehow lighter. There were plenty of restaurants and the service and food are good,” she says.

She attended the Voice of Finland singing contest at Logomo and got to know Turku nightlife too.

“At home we always watch the French equivalent on TV. It was a great experience to actually be there, even though I couldn’t understand the words and jokes at all.”

Of special Finnish characteristics, the huge amount of coffee-drinking caught her eye.

“At my bed-and-breakfast, there were 15 sailors, who would stay up till four in the morning! In the morning, they were amazed that I didn’t eat more of the goodies on offer, just croissants with marmalade. It’s because I’m French,” she laughs.

Laura would like to recommend Finland as a good place for practical training, but says in the same breath that any experience abroad is OK. Two weeks was just the right length of time, and she could not have stayed here longer.

She has many future plans. She is fascinated by the movie business or theatre make-up. In June, she is aiming to conclude her two-year training as a hairdresser.