For exchange students

Survival Kit For Non-Finnish Speakers at OSYK

Oulun Suomalaisen Yhteiskoulun lukio (Upper Secondary School)  

Oulun Suomalaisen Yhteiskoulun  lukio (OSYK) is a well-respected upper secondary school  that emphasizes wide-scale art education. The task of our school is to strengthen general education and develop a critical, creative and independent mindset. Our learning objective is to help students become honest, independent, cooperative and problem-solving citizens, who will have the ability to work responsibly and with compassion at a local and global level.  

Students’ interest in science and arts is promoted, and diverse, ethical and aesthetic experiences provided. In addition, students are prepared for the future considering a sustainable and humane lifestyle as well as lifelong learning in an increasingly complex world. 

The school prepares students for further studies: universities, universities of applied sciences and vocational colleges. A wide-scale arts education is emphasized; the main subjects being drama and visual arts. These subjects are integrated into everyday practices in the school.  

The values of our school are based on the Finnish culture and traditions respecting our mother-tongues and humanistic values. These values include honesty, moral courage, reciprocal caring and accountability.  

The school is a Unesco ASPnet school, sharing common global objectives.  

The broad variety of courses that are available enables students to realize individual learning plans. The annual matriculation examination results at OSYK are exceptional. Our school is recognized for the diverse selection of language studies offered: Swedish (another official language in Finland), English, German, Russian and Spanish courses. In addition, English can be studied as a second language (ESL) based on the national ENA curriculum but with different methods and pedagogy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The German Language Diploma (Deutsches Sprachdiplom – DSD) of the Federal Republic of Germany offers an official certificate based on standardized tests. For many students, this opens the door to German universities. 

In addition to the obligatory courses, plenty of specialization and applied courses are offered. It is also possible to take national upper secondary diploma courses in the following subjects: Drama, Visual Arts, Music and Physical Education.  

Our beautiful Art Nouveau school building is located in the city centre of Oulu.  The school has approximately 600 students and 40 professional faculty members. Our community is known for its open, equal and encouraging atmosphere.  

OSYK is a partner school of Oulu City Theatre and works in cooperation with universities and colleges as well as with other upper secondary schools, Oulu Art School and the Cultural Centre Valve. The school is an active member in the network of upper secondary schools in Finland. 

International cooperation is part of everyday life in school. We have several, long-term international projects, such as the language and theatre -project Youth, Europe and Theatre (YET), the Cern Project, Stockholm Course and the Kostamus Projects.  OSYK has partner schools in Spain, Germany, Holland and Russia. OSYK also has short-term international projects such as SCIINNO – Nordic Heritage and Science Innovation 2018 – 2019, involving other Finnish high schools as well as a partner in Denmark. 

Our online magazine, Pyramentti, reports on events in our school: The events can also be followed on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.


School Projects 


The Youth, Europe and Theatre is a theatre and language project in which teachers and students from different countries work together to produce two plays. The goal of the project is to improve the students’ ability to express themselves both linguistically and through movement. Over the years, students from the Netherlands, Greece, Italy and Finland have taken part in the project. YET was first organized in 1997 and OSYK took part in YET in 2001 for the first time. Comenius (Erasmus K2), an organization that supports the co-operation between European schools, has often funded the project. 

Each year one of the partner schools receives students from the other participating countries. The students are divided into two teams that both produce a theatrical production of their own. By producing a play together, students practice communicating through speech, movement and music. The host country always chooses the piece of literature that the plays will be based on. This way, the students will also learn about arts and literature in other countries. The students are divided into an acting team, a media team and a team in charge of preparing the setting. 

YET has also won several prizes, for example the European Label Award (Italy 2007, Finland 2008) and the second prize in the National Education Awards in the Netherlands in 1998. 

CERN Project 

CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) is the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. It is one of the most respected facilities for scientific research. CERN was founded in 1954 and the CERN laboratory is located near Geneva in Switzerland. Since the year 2000, Finnish schools have had a chance to offer students a unique opportunity to see how science is developed in one of the most respected facilities for scientific research. 

The objective of the field trip is to clarify what modern physics is for students. The trip is not a traditional field trip and it requires additional work before and after the trip itself. The preparations for the trip are made during the whole school year. The students learn about CERN in groups and pay visits to the University of Oulu. At the research centre in Cern, the program consists of lectures and visits to the test sites. Some internationally well-known scientists also take part in the program by giving presentations in English. 


The highlight of the Stockholm course is to go to Stockholm, Sweden. Stockholm is usually visited in spring. To finance the trip, the students make waffles for the Lucia Day Café, and organize other “coffee parties”. Other fundraising includes working the lobby of the Oulu Theater.  

In the Stockholm course, Swedish is practised in groups by conducting interviews and presentations on Swedish phenomena, people and places. Students plan what books they will read in Swedish. In the year 2018, the book was Ronia the Robber’s Daughter and students also went see the play based on the book at the theatre in Stockholm. For the trip to Stockholm, students had to arrange the accommodation, activities and sightseeing in Stockholm. The most important thing about the Stockholm course is that the students can get a chance to practice their Swedish skills in an authentic environment. 

KOSTAMUS School Number 3 Project 

One of the partner schools of OSYK is Kostamus School Number 3 in Russia. It is a mathematics-based high school near the Finnish border. Every second year, OSYK organizes exchange visits with Kostamus. The visits have usually taken place between October and December. A group of about ten students and their teachers go on an exchange for a couple of weeks. They gain understanding about school life, culture, school practices and lives of the youth in this neighbouring country. In November 2017, a group of  Kostamus students and teachers visited OSYK, so in the following year, OSYK students and teachers will pay a visit to Kostamus School Number 3. 

In the Kostamus project, visitors stay with host families to concretely experience what life is like in their neighbouring countries. 


Student Union and Student Council at Osyk  

The Students’ Union  

The Students’ Union is represented by the Student Council.  The members of the council are chosen by a general meeting of the Students´ Union, which is organized once a semester.  

The student council at OSYK is very active. It organizes many events throughout the year. The events follow school traditions which have been practiced for years, like the Advent Calendar Event and the First of May Costume Party. Also, the council develops new events every year.   

The Student Council has 10-15 members. Every member has their own role in the council. For example, there is a president, a vice president, a secretary, a treasurer, etc.  

Twice a year the council organizes a general assembly for the whole school. The meeting in autumn is for the students to elect new members for the council and the council introduces the plans for the school year. The assembly for all the students in spring is to report on everything that the council has done during the school year and listen to the students’ wishes for the next year. 

The council also co-operate with some different companies and organisations, and is financially supported by a few co-operating companies.  

The Council’s main objective is to make the students happy and encourage the flow of information between the students and their teachers. If students have any criticisms or wishes concerning the school, the council aims at doing everything possible to solve the problems.  


Parents committee 

According to the Finnish law, there must be co-operation between upper secondary school and home. The co-operation has a very special purpose: open, respectful and equal interaction supports learning and growing. It supports communality, welfare and safety. Also, multiculturalism and individualism of the families are taken into consideration.   

At Oulun Suomalaisen Yhteiskoulun lukio (OSYK), the parents committee works actively and tries to create, develop and sustain co-operation to support the everyday life of the students in school.  The committee arranges different activities together with the teachers and students. 

The parents, principal, assistant principal and students’ union representatives are all members of the parents committee. Sometimes school teachers, student counsellors and other staff members are asked to take part in the meetings. Participating in the committee is completely voluntary. The committee meetings take place once a month to discuss current topics, such as the school’s future development, activities and events.   

The committee organizes many different events. For example, the committee usually sells lottery tickets and homemade bakery to at parents’ events in order to collect money for a student grant which is given to one graduate student in autumn and one in the spring. The committee also serves food and beverages on the celebration day of the senior students finishing their school and starting their final exams, and sweets at night school just before the Christmas break starts. 


What do you have to know not to get lost at OSYK?  

Hey exchange students! My name is Nate Munn and I was a Rotary Youth Exchange student from the US to Finland, and I went to school here at OSYK for my 2017-2018 Exchange year. So here are some things that I wished I knew before I came to OSYK. 

The first thing is something that I would say is one of the most important things you need to know about OSYK is the class room numbers, because how are you supposed to make it to class if you don’t know where the classrooms are? So the numbers of the classrooms in OSYK are cleverly designed to have a specific range of numbers for each floor (that’s another thing you should know, there are a lot of stairs in OSYK, but it’s not that bad). The ground floor of OSYK has classroom numbers in the 10’s, the second floor has classroom numbers in the 20’s, the third floor had classroom numbers in the 30’s, and the basement kind of breaks the rules and has numbers below zero. Example: 0.8.  

The second thing you need to know is that there are two stairwells in OSYK, and they are located on the East and West sides of the building. Or in other words, if you walk into the building through the main entrance, and keep going straight after you walk up the small flight of stairs, then the first (and in my opinion, more used) stairwell will be on your right. Then the second stairwell you can get to by going through the glass door on your left when you enter through the main entrance and going to your left again until you enter a small hallway and you see another set of glass doors.  

The third thing you not only need to know about OSYK, but just Finnish schools in general, is that there is an order to who gets to go to lunch first. What I mean by this is that 3rd year students get to go first at 11.00, then 2nd years at 11.15, then 1st years at 11.30. This was a big change for me, since I’m used to everyone just piling in and getting in line.   P.S. 1st years tend to linger in the stairwell while they wait for their turn, please don’t be this kind of a first year (but to be honest most people don’t really care, it just makes it difficult to get out from lunch).  

And finally, the fourth thing you should know about OSYK is that the bathrooms are located in the basement on the East side of the building. The quickest way to them is by going down the winding staircase past the East stairwell, and going through the door in front of you. The girls’ bathroom will be directly to the left of you, and the boys’ bathroom is straight and then left. 

Something you should also know is that the easiest way to get to the office is by going up the East stairwell and on the second floor, it’s the first door on your right. However, the office is not where the counselors are. The counselors are in the basement. You can get to their offices by going down the spiral staircase (the one I mentioned earlier), and going through the same door and turning right, going straight, and then opening the big, heavy door, turning right again and going up the stairs. The basement is also where all the computer classes and the library is. 

Now we can get into some “smaller” things. So OSYK is an arts school, so take lots of art classes! They’re all fun, especially the drama classes. Plus if you take a drama class you can use the drama locker room. Drama class is also a great time for you to make new friends and really open up, because, it’s a drama class, you’re supposed to be open. So just be outgoing and don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

And lastly a word from one exchange student to another. Exchange is an absolutely amazing experience, and you will definitely remember the time you spend on exchange, but a lot of the time you spend here will be at school. So make the best out of it! In the time you spend here you will realize that OSYK isn’t like other Finnish schools, and the people aren’t either. When I’m writing this I’m a little over halfway done with my exchange and in the time I’ve spent here at OSYK, I have fallen in love with it. The way the school works, and everything the school stands for, it’s simply amazing. So enjoy, and I hope that in the time you spend at OSYK, you will share the same opinion. 


Oulun Suomalaisen Yhteiskoulun lukio
Maunonkatu 1
90100 Oulu 



School secretary: Birgitta Anttila 044 703 9280 

School secretary: Saija Tuovinen (Mon-Tue) 044 703 9943 

Principal: Riitta-Mari Punkki-Heikkinen 044 703 9281 

Vice principal: Timo Koivunen 046 920 9986 

Study counselor: Ari Forsten 044 703 9276 

Study counselor: Krista Kautto 044 703 9288 

Study counselor: Mervi Kela 044 703 9289 

School canteen manager: Tiina Vuorio 044 703 2975 

School custodian: Jaana Jämsä-Kelahaara 044 703 9529 

Nurse: Johanna Linna 044 703 4616 

Special education teacher: Marjo Mattila 044 703 9699 

School social worker: Hanna Laurila 040 632 6939 

High school Psychologist: Heidi Virén 040 632 6096 



Ala-Opas Tiina:  Visual Arts, Media
Annunen Sari:  Religion, Psychology,  Philosophy
Forstén Ari:  History, Social Studies, Study Counselor
Heikkilä Hanna: Swedish
Soile Helistén-Mikkola: : Physical Education, Health Education
Hollsten Nina:  English
Huuki Jarmo: Math, Physics
Hälinen Mervi:  English, Russian
Juntunen Jukka:  History, Social Studies
Junttila Hanni: Mother tongue Finnish, Literature
Kautto Krista:  Psychology, Study Counselor
Kela Mervi:  Study Councelor
Keski-Filppula Jukka:  Philosophy, Ethics
Kiuru Leena:  Swedish
Koivunen Timo:  Geography, Biology, Vice Principal
Koldits Anna-Leena: Music
Korpierkki Minna:  Mother tongue Finnish, Literature, Media
Loukkola Timo: Physical Education, Health Education
Lähteenkorva Silja:  Mother tongue Finnish, Literature
Mattila Marjo:  Special Education teacher
Moran Matthew:  English
Mällinen Päivi: Mother tongue Finnish, Literature
Oikarainen Juha: History, Social Studies
Iiro Oikarinen: History, Social Studies
Papunen Jari:  Philosophy, Ethics, German
Partanen Eveliina:  Spanish, English
Perttunen Vesa:  Math, Information Technology, Media
Pilto Tiina: German, Swedish
Punkki-Heikkinen Riitta-Mari:  Principal
Pylkkö Maarit:  Chemistry, Math
Ruohomäki Ilona:  Drama
Tauriainen Tommi:  Math, Information Technology
Ohtokangas Emilia: English 
Uusitupa Niina: Visual Arts
Vallineva Sari:  Math, Chemistry
Vesimäki Timo:  Biology, Geography
Väisänen Tarja:  Physical Education, Health Education 


Subjects:    Compulsory Courses     Specialisation Studies    Applied Studies 
Finnish    6    7    4 
English    6    7     
Swedish    5    6    1 
German        8     
Spanish        9     
Math (long)    10    5     
Math (short)    6    4     
Biology    2    5     
Geography    2    4     
Physics    1    8    1 
Chemistry    1    6     
Religion    3    5     
Philosophy    1    6     
History    4    5     
Social education    2    3     
Psychology    1    6    1 
Music    2    3    6 
Art    2    9    8 
Physical education    2    3    19 
Study guidance    1    1    1 
Drama            10 
Media            8 
Information technology            4 
Russian        10     
Ethics    3    2     


Texts Amanda Blanco Sequeiros, Ella Ikonen, Fanni Tilanto, Seliina Kiviahde, Aleksi Nykyri, Tomi Paavola and Nate Munn