My biggest motivation behind relocating to Finland was to live closer to my spouse (He started his Masters at Aalto University in Fall, 2021), as we were already in a long-distance relationship since quite some time and I didn’t want to live away for another two years. The world renowned “happiest country in the world”, “best education system in the world” and a “full scholarship” was definitely a catalyst to our decision of moving. And that is how, I landed in Finland on a cold winter evening in the beginning of December, 2021.
The transition has been interesting, exciting, and challenging at the same time. There has been a lot of highs and lows and a lot of mixed feelings.
Nobody talks how difficult immigration is and no amount of reading and training could prepare you for the changes and challenges that comes with immigration. I think the biggest challenge I am still facing is integrating with the local Finnish people. They are quite nice, but reserved which makes it challenging to build relationships or to network
Some aspects of Finland as a new culture that have surprised me the most are how safe and secure everyday life feels in here. It’s lovely to see little kids with their mobile phones going around alone even at night because of the high sense of safety and security.
I also love how everything is on time - the bus, the train, the metro and so on. Also, how seamless services are (except when you have to open a bank account for the first time). I appreciate how multi-cultural Finland has become in the recent years, in terms of food – it feels amazing knowing that your favourite food isn’t far away. I love how close to nature you can be when you live in Finland and how respectful and well-paid all kinds of jobs are which is something very different from my own home country. “The sauna culture and taking a dip in the frozen lake" is what has surprised me the most.
The steps I have been taking to integrate into society in Finland include learning the language. I didn't go through integration courses, but took courses offered by Familia, Aalto University and Helsinki Summer University. My language learning is still a work-in-progress. I also took a course named "Finland Works" at Aalto University to learn more about Finnish work culture. I have been part of the "Career Club" program by the City of Espoo.
Moreover, I have always been interested in volunteering and the idea of giving back to the society has always been close to my heart. So, when I heard about this opportunity of volunteering at Familia, I decided to take it and that’s how I started our first “Peer Support Group” with two other amazing volunteers. Subsequently, I have also been volunteering in Nicehearts
Education opportunities and accessibility to education is quite good here. However, it’s not the same for employment opportunities. Finding a job in Finland as an immigrant is one of the biggest challenges for anyone relocating to Finland especially if you come from a non-EU country.
I have found it easier to continue my education while it has been extremely difficult for me to land even an internship in my own area of expertise. I recently decided to take a short full-time course named “Career Boost Programme in Business Accounting” by Metropolia University of Applied Sciences to upskill myself and learn more in the field of accounting and finance.
With the various challenges I faced last year, I decided that I would like to have a Peer Support Group (I found information about it from Allison, who works at Familia) or a network of people who are going through a similar journey in their job-search. And that’s how our Peer Support Group come into to being. It was an amazing experience to be around just talented group of individuals all sharing their journey and ideas.
That allowed us an opportunity to meet a lot of people and receive support from various individuals who were kind enough to share their stories, their ideas and suggestions around CV, Cover letter, job interviews, personal finances, mental health, and networking. And some of us have been able to provide support and stay in touch even after the sessions ended.
Haluamme kertoa juhlavuotemme kunniaksi 35 tarinaa kahden kulttuurin perheistä
ulkaisemme 35 viikon ajan 35 erilaista tarinaa, jotka kuvastavat monia haasteita ja mahdollisuuksia, joita kahden kulttuurin perheet jokapäiväisessä elämässään kohtaavat. Haluamme näiden tarinoiden heijastavan todellisuutta ja tarjoavan vertaistukea, voimaannuttavia kokemuksia ja inspiraation lähteitä sekä lisäävän tietoisuutta kulttuurienvälisyydestä ja monikielisyydestä Suomessa.
For 35 weeks, we will be publishing 35 different stories that reflect the many challenges and opportunities intercultural families face in their everyday lives. We want these stories to reflect reality and serve as an accessible peer support, source of empowerment and inspiration, and increase awareness of Interculturalism and Multilingualism in Finland.