By Céline Kylänpää
The Erasmus programme brought me to Finland in 2007-2008. I wanted to study abroad to improve my English while going to Great Britain would have been somewhat too close from home. Originally from France, the Business School I was studying at had a partnership with the one in Turku. I didn’t know anything about Finland, and that was actually the main reason why I decided to go.
During my study year, I had the opportunity to take beginner courses to learn Finnish. In my 20’s and pretty sure I would never come back, I didn’t see the use of it, so I passed. Would I have known, after being in Turku for few months and meeting Kari, today my husband and father of my two kids, I might have taken another decision. It is never too late.
After graduation, I decide to stay in Finland. Finding employment as a new graduate took me about two years. During that time, I learnt Finnish. My motivation for it was not only to find a job, but mostly to be able to speak with my friends, Finnish family and to be active within my community. After I reached a satisfying level to dare to speak, it was time to put all my efforts into finding employment. Working would be a good way to use the Finnish language as we speak English at home. So I decided to go for an internship in order to know better the Finnish working culture, apply my skills and get references from a Finnish employer. First, I worked at a Finnish start-up located in Salo, and then at the University of Turku, my current employer. Being able to speak Finnish also raised my confidence. Though I mostly work in English, knowing Finnish gives me the possibility to take part in strategy level decisions and live like a local. Even though it takes time to learn it, I would encourage internationals to let go of their perfectionism and dare to speak. After that, progress can be seen rapidly and there will be opportunities to polish your skills.
I have learnt from these years that the Finnish society is also a land of opportunities, so no matter what dreams or ambition you have, there will be a way to reach them. I feel well integrated in the Finnish society. I have found in both cities I have lived in, Turku and Tampere, are dynamic international communities. Places such as Bloom (in Tampere) are great places to meet like-minded people, find tips and get support to network and grow professionally. Giving back to my community is also what drives me and so I have been active with supporting international talents to integrate in Finland, first in Turku where I was coordinating the Turku Expat Network and now here in Tampere, where I act as a Tampere Talent Ambassador. I mostly aim at supporting other families to find their home and mingle with locals to get most of their experience here in Finland, the happiest country in the world.
Don’t wait, learn Finnish and be active! There is room for all of us.
For more information about Bloom, please visit www.bloomtogether.fi