The economic situation in Mariana’s home country led her look for opportunities elsewhere. Finland struck her as an EU country with a robust social system. After her husband obtained a research fellowship in Turku, she knew exactly where they would be living. She looked online for places she could work at, sent cover letters and CVs, and asked for face-to-face meetings. She had hoped it would be easier to find long-term contracts in Finland than in her home country. She eventually did obtain one, but it was harder than expected.
1. What I find surprising about working in Finland is… how many people, despite having a good command of English, feel too shy to use it in a work context.
2. If I could change one thing about Finnish working life it would be… from my experience, Finnish companies tend to not reply to unsuccessful job applications for open positions. Rejection is easier to deal with than uncertainty.
3. My favourite thing about Finland is… nature and metal music – both are everywhere, and I love both in equal measure. I have always loved Finnish metal (Moonsorrow, Swallow the Sun, Fintroll, Ensiferum, just to name a few) and the possibility to now see the bands live, and quite often, greatly increases my quality of life!
Also, I must say that Finnish metalheads are incredibly kind. As a foreigner, going to see local bands could be a quite daunting experience. However, it has been quite the opposite: Finnish metalheads are incredibly welcoming and make me feel part of this subculture even if I am not a Finn myself. It seems that similar interests are more important than nationality. The strangest episode was when I was introduced by a random, fellow concert-goer, whom I did not know, as his “exotic friend” – from then on, I have really made some connections at concerts.
4. The piece of advice I would give to someone contemplating coming to work in Finland is… don’t mistake directness (a Finnish strength) for rudeness. Finns don’t say much but, they say what they mean. This makes it very easy to know where you stand with people and makes for fewer misunderstandings. I would highly recommend other countries to take up on this!
5. The Finnish word that best describes working here is… tasainen (even), because things run smoothly in Finland, and the people are steady, even-tempered and measured.