In the initial days of my stay in Finland──during a conversation with some foreigners──somebody stated, “October is not the best time of the year for an Indian to visit Finland. It’s cold, dark, gloomy and to top it all, people never smile.” To which I secretly wondered: “what people are they referring to? I haven’t seen one.” Nevertheless, now I know, they (Finns) do exist and oh, how wonderful they are!
I started my journey from sunny India to cold Finland in, Kuopio, October 2008, unaware of the fate that awaited me on the second half of my ten years. During all these sunny & snowy years, I have learned a new language, earned two degrees; a bachelor’s and a Master’s in International Business, secured a steady job and gained a good six years of working experience from reputable Finnish organizations. Additionally, I got the opportunity to complete my exchange studies in Ireland and in Italy, participate in many national and international events and represent my culture on different platforms as well.
In addition, I have evolved immensely in the past few years on the personal front. I have traveled to ten different countries, discovered different cultures and cuisines, met amazing people, and made wonderful friends and networks all over the world. Furthermore, I have learned to ski, row a boat, relish in the wilderness, grill sausages on open fire, throw an almost perfect löyly in the sauna, enjoy avanto and eat mämmi to name a few. The list of my learnings may appear elusive to some but all I can say is that I have thrived well this far.
Although my story sounds enjoyable, my journey was not all roses. I have had my share of failures and disappointments too: I was unemployed, I failed my exams, I did odd jobs to survive and got rejected in many job interviews and I still do. Nevertheless, I’ve learned from my failures and have tried not to repeat them (mostly) and have believed in myself. Looking back I recommend doing training or internship in companies, that is a great option to get your foot in the door. Participating in various networking events can open many doors as well. Learning the language will not only increase the likelihood of getting a job but will also make life much easier.
Today, I am loved, respected, and appreciated for being who I am. Finnish society has always encouraged me, supported my vision of being independent and strong, and has continuously provided me with many opportunities to live a good life. Throughout these years, I have worked hard, acted responsibly, and have always tried and encouraged others to do the same in return. This is my way of saying- thank you Finland.
For those who feel lonely in Finland, I want you to know, Finland loves you too. Despite being a foreigner, companies have hired me for jobs, people have sat next to me on the bus, private landlords have rented me flats and people have helped me in public places. Also, I do get invited to Finnish homes, summer cottages and to Finnish weddings. And I never get “randomly checked” at the airport (no pun intended). Hence, I believe, there is hope for you too.
Finnish employers I would encourage to hire skillful international talents, this provides an opportunity for the employer to grow and learn a new language, culture, and people. Also, employers will learn how to manage an international group at work. Above all, by hiring international talents, employers can create an international environment for their existing employees as well.
To me, Finnish winters are beautiful and Finnish food is delicious and yes, Finns do talk and smile (also when they are not drunk), but please, do not touch them or kiss them on the first meeting, you would not like it either. To sum it all up, I consider myself as a healthy part of the Finnish society and I know that Finns do so as well.
Writer Sudipta Chatterjee is originally from India with a master’s degree in Internationa Business and Sales management from the UEF. She has lived in Finland for almost 12 years and worked for almost six years after graduating and two years prior to that. She has worked at Savonia UAS for almost three years in different roles such as project planner, project worker, and student advisor. Currently, I am working as a sales and marketing coordinator at Medfiles Ltd., an international CRO for pharmaceuticals.
”I strongly believe in equality and equal opportunity for all. If possible, I would work for improving the situation of employees; both Finnish and foreigners. ”