Finland holds a special place in my and my family’s hearts, probably more so in the past 10 years since my partner started to travel more frequently here for his work. Over this time, we have spent a few short summer breaks in Finland and all three of our son’s when younger have experienced international summer camps here through my partners' employer. We love the outdoor life that Finland has to offer, its people, the quality of life, the wonderful surroundings of its nature and of course being so close to the ocean it’s our heaven!
My partner has worked for the same Finnish employer for the past 24 years now, (22 of those spent in the UK). So when at the end of 2019 the opportunity through his new role came to relocate to Finland we knew this was one we could not turn down. Fast-forward to 5th September 2020 and where our rescheduled July flights were suddenly now allowed to go ahead, we finally made it to our new home here in Finland just before the borders closed again a few days later.
My partner and I are British, we are classed as immigrants or as an intercultural couple here in Finland. After completing all the required administration for our right of residency permit and myself applying day after day for numerous jobs, I was finally offered a fixed term contract starting January 2021. I was super happy, and suddenly I felt sense of acceptance at least at the time.
Now I don’t speak fluent Finnish, have a Finnish name nor do I have a Finnish qualification, but I do know my own worth. I have many transferable skills, valuable experience, and other vocational qualifications to offer. I am honest, loyal, and hardworking, and I was going to make sure that the life I led before entering Finland counted for something.
2022 soon arrived and after taking time out I started to actively search for employment opportunities again. Several months passed by of the repetitive searching/applying and sometimes gaining the odd interview but nothing more than this came to light. Soon enough I began to feel like I was not good enough for anything, or any role here and my previous working experiences counted for very little. I could feel my confidence and self-esteem start to slide, but I was determined to not allow myself to give up. Life itself here could be pretty good, and I knew I could make it even better by being employed and surrounded by others. Now I don’t speak fluent Finnish, have a Finnish name nor do I have a Finnish qualification, but I do know my own worth. I have many transferable skills, valuable experience, and other vocational qualifications to offer. I am honest, loyal, and hardworking, and I was going to make sure that the life I led before entering Finland counted for something.
While scrolling through my social media one day, I came across an Entrepreneurship programme here in Finland starting in the spring with an organisation known as ‘Startup Refugees’’. Having no recent success finding suitable employment, I decided I had nothing much to lose by applying for a place on the programme. The course itself would run from March until May and not only would this keep my mind occupied, it was going to provide me with further skills and knowledge of what it takes to start my own business here in Finland.
Following on from this, I would just like to say that as an immigrant living in Finland, becoming an entrepreneur is definitely something that is welcomed and fully supported here. Although I have previous experience of being self-employed back in the UK, it was not something I had ever really considered again for myself when moving here in 2020. It has been a tough ride and what has felt like a really long journey, has now come good, and I am probably the happiest I have felt in a while.
However, my final few words must be about Integration and inclusion because not only are they important and relevant, but they will always be a key factor in helping to eliminate some negative feelings and issues immigrants seem to have to face on a daily basis and especially around employment and the recruitment stages. Talking about these openly is always good of course, but practicing what is preached would be even better!
Not everyone chooses to go down that entrepreneurial route like me, but sometimes it sure does feel like there is no other option out there.
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Ajatuksia ja kokemuksia elämästä kahden kulttuurin keskellä.
Reflections and experiences from the life of intercultural families.
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