Story 1: I came to Finland and fell in love!
This story describes one perspective on how highly skilled internationals experience working and living in Finland. It is based on an analysis of interviews with 62 internationals, combining the experiences, feelings, and thoughts shared by many of them. Read more about how the story was constructed hereand check out the rest of the stories here.
Story 1: I came to Finland and fell in love!
My great-grandparents emigrated from Finland to my country of birth one hundred years ago. I was always interested in Finland and wanted to learn more about the land of my ancestors. When I went to do my BA at the university, I decided to come to Finland for a visit as an exchange student.
Then, the classic thing happened: I fell in love with a Finnish person, got married, and ended up staying for good. Adapting to Finland went without major problems for me, as I was always able to rely on my spouse and their family to help me when I needed it. I have always felt accepted in Finland.
I speak enough Finnish to get by in everyday life, even if I had to put a lot of effort into it. Finnish is such a difficult language, but I find it important to learn. Where we live, people do not speak much English. Since I want to have a social life here and not miss the cultural nuances, I need to be able to speak enough Finnish. If you do not know the language, you will always be seen as a foreigner, and I do not want that.
Our children are bilingual. We speak my native language at home, and at school, they speak Finnish. I think being bilingual gives them a great starting point for their education and future career.
I have practically always had a job. I was unemployed only briefly when I wanted to leave my previous job and move to another industry. In hindsight, it was a wise career move. I found my old job too insecure and wanted to look for something more permanent.
In my new job, I have been able to develop my skills, try out different job descriptions, and eventually advance to managerial positions. I love my work, and I know I am good at it. I have also found the work-life balance that I was hoping for.
One of the benefits of our workplace is that it is so international. We have employees from a diverse range of countries and backgrounds, and the working language is English. The work community is welcoming and supportive. There is always someone who listens to you, so you are never alone. I have never experienced discrimination in working life myself, and I do not see it in our workplace.
Yet, I am aware that many other foreigners in Finland do face different forms of discrimination, including sexism and racism. It is so unfair, and I think something should be done about such problems if Finland wants to further internationalise.
I have never experienced discrimination in working life myself. Yet, I am aware that many other foreigners in Finland do face different forms of discrimination.
I think one of the best things about Finland is that it is so safe. I can even walk alone in the street at night. And everything here works, from infrastructure to social and health services. As an immigrant with a family, I especially value the daycare system and high-quality, free education. In Finland, my children have the opportunity to build a good future for themselves.
As for the social life, I think that Finnish people are friendly, trustworthy, and straightforward. Outwardly, they can be shy, and sometimes they may appear impolite and unapproachable. But if you, as a foreigner, are ready to take the first step to get to know them, they are nice and helpful.
In fact, nowadays, I feel much more Finnish than a citizen of my country of birth, so I understand very well the Finnish shyness and tendency to give other people their space.
The only thing I never get used to in my life here is the darkness and coldness of Finnish November. Then I have fatigue, and I get a bit melancholic. But when spring arrives and nature comes alive, it is wonderful to be in Finland. Nature is close, it is clean, and I value the Finnish way of life, healthy food, and the many outdoor activities.
I love the peace and quiet here but also every now and then long for a bit more vibrant culture with a rich variety of events and activities to attend.
My advice to those planning to move to Finland would be to find out about things in advance and carefully consider whether the reality in Finland matches their image of the country. It is often difficult for foreigners to find a job in Finland, and the social life is not as close-knit as in most cultures.
Nowadays, I feel much more Finnish than a citizen of my country of birth, so I understand very well the Finnish shyness and tendency to give other people their space.
But if you come here, be ready to work hard to integrate. I think that sometimes foreigners complain too much about their lives here. There are problems in every society; Finland is no better or worse in that sense.
I am happy with my life here. When the children grow up and move away from home, my spouse and I might move somewhere else just for the experience, but we would definitely return. After all, as studies show, Finland is the happiest country in the world.
Does this story resonate with your own experiences or those of people you know? Did it surprise you in any way? Leave a comment below or engage with us on LinkedIn and Twitter! Check out the other four stories here, too.