In English

Insights on Local Culture Without Language Barriers

(Article): Lukas Lundén
(Photo): Nella Keski-Oja
  • “We want to celebrate the people that make Turku the great city that we know it is”, says Lauren Cook (right) here with Roos Hekkens.

Culture Collective: Turku is a new crew of students who share tips about the local culture and folk in English. Rather than simply laying out the whats, whens and wheres, they add the whys and hows.

”We wanted everyone who writes an article to have their own style and voice,” declares main editor Lauren Cook.

“We just started because we thought this is a good idea and we wanted to make it happen”, Roos Hekkens continues.

Culture Collective: Turku, the diverse ten-strong group comprised of both Finnish and international members, has already amassed a profound stack of cultural insight of Turku on their site which was launched only a few months ago.

CC:TKU shares sensible monthly articles in English ranging all from cuisine and art to design and shops, without forgetting the people behind them. All things regarding events and happenings are collected to a nifty calendar. Every writer brings in their own interests and expertise, each doing it with a true-to-self temperament.

“For us, personality and transparency are important. We want our readers to interact with us and vice versa. We don’t want to hide who we are”, Cook explains.

Keenly writing their in-depth People of Turku-features, the collective sees each person as a chance to delve into the mainstays that make the city.

“I feel there’s much more to tell about the people and the happenings. The networking and collaboration with people make the core of our collective”, Hekkens says.


THERE HAS been demand for an English- language source centered upon all the cultural possibilities that thrive in Turku.

“[Turku] has a very international community; a lot of exchange students, foreign workers and visitors”, Cook points out.

Hekkens clarifies their vision:

“There’s no one spot where you can get this kind of information on what’s happening around town and read about the people behind them.”

Cook moved from Australia three and a half years ago and Hekkens returned last year after living in Turku for a semester four years ago.

“We’re both studying the same Master’s degree in Popular Culture Studies. I had this really sudden idea of maybe making a culture magazine in English about cultural life in Turku and I told about it to my husband and Roos, who was very enthusiastic about the idea. I don’t think it would’ve become a reality without Roos’ enthusiasm”, Cook outlines.


THE COLLECTIVE runs with an open volunteering attitude.

“I’ve put money into the site myself, but none of us have been getting any payment for this work. It’s something that we want to do and enjoy doing”, Cook clarifies.

This intent is at the heart of the collective’s philosophy. Everyone is welcome to contribute to CC:TKU directly and the other way round; they’re open-heartedly accepting new tips and partnerships to share about.

“On the site I can express myself in the way I want and think. For me it’s not about what I gain from it but what I can share with others. In my other writing for the university, I have to conform to a certain way of writing. CC:TKU gives me a chance to explore the town’s activities and meet new people”, Hekkens encourages.

CC:TKU has some way to go, as Cook tells: “I think the main area we need to grow is our events calendar, getting it consistent and well managed. At the moment it’s been a little bit chaotic.”

Still, they show absolutely no signs of deceleration, as Cook sheds light on some possible plans:

“Maybe in the future it’d be nice to try and work with Visit Turku, because their English-language outlets aren’t as active.”

Hekkens hopes to witness the collective extend its reach, envisioning relations within relations:

“[The] first thing to work on, is to make the collective grow, not only the writers and photographers involved but also connecting with new people and creating a network.”

You can find CC:TKU on their own website, Facebook or Instagram page.


Face the Locals While on Exchange

INCLUDING EXCHANGE students and short-term visitors comes naturally for the collective – making integration as easy as possible.

“When I was an Erasmus student in Czech Republic, I knew only two Czech people. I’m not sure if it’s the same for Erasmus students in Finland”, Lauren Cook recalls.

In her experience meeting locals can prove difficult in a temporary environment living mostly with other exchange students.

Roos Hekkens wrote an article for Turku Student Magazine earlier this year about integrating international students with the university’s activities. She learned the university is serious about integration, thinking of new ways to involve people yearly.

“If you want to know what happens outside the academic life in the city you study in, CC:TKU provides really fascinating backgrounds and interesting activities to explore,” Hekkens says.


DESPITE BEING students themselves, Cook and Hekkens aim for a wider audience.

“We want to be as inclusive as possible. We’re not focusing only on students, but we hope they can find a lot of things that interest them as well. I think people our age should be out enjoying the city they live in. I hope we can share some interesting insights and events besides the usual student parties”, Cook concludes.


More articles:

Queer Life in Turku

For a small-ish city Turku offers a nice variety of events, activities and friendly locations for LGBTQIA+ people. Check out our tips for the queer crowd.

International Students Can Have a Hard Time Finding Their Subject-specific Organizations

Tutors can help in making the connections between international students and organizations.

Artists Envision Student Village of Murals

Wall murals are becoming increasingly common in Finland’s cityscape. Might we get some to the Student Village as well?