By Katarina Jurisic
Little did I know that a summer job in a Croatian bar would bring me to a country of a thousand lakes. It is love that brought me to Tampere and once I arrived, love for this city was born immediately.
I moved to Tampere in 2019, two months before graduating from University J. J. Strossmayer in Osijek for a Bachelor degree in Chemistry, and a few months before my daughter was born. In all of that chaos of amazing life milestones, getting around and trying to find other internationals was quite a battle.
Halfway through maternity leave, my job hunting journey had started, and it started rough. So many applications sent and not a single response, not even a rejection letter and all those positions were withdrawn due to the pandemic. I was lucky to find the Girl Gone International Tampere community and shortly organised events for international women. It was indeed my escape from the unwelcoming feeling from locals.
Thinking I was the only one who struggled to land a job or find friends is something that really made my assimilation process harder. Feeling that I needed to change myself in order to fit in because I was the one who doesn’t speak Finnish or talks too loud. It has been a long and hard journey to finding myself while struggling with postpartum depression and fear of leaving home. Months of struggles led to one overwhelming afternoon, when in the middle of an argument, and trying to figure out why am I going through such a rough time, I came to a conclusion. The important question was ‘Why don’t you just do it?’, and an even more resounding answer was, ‘Because I’m not brave enough!’
Being brave was what I was missing, so I decided to change and take my powers back. Luckily, courage is the first and most important skill to learn. I decided to learn it in the form of getting a simple hobby that was not really my thing. So I started a basic course at the Seigokan Karate Association ry which pushed me out of my comfort zone with the speed of light. I can tell you, yellow belt is my silliest accomplishment that I am so proud of.
At the end of September 2020, I started an integration language course in Onnenkieli Oy and things slowly started rolling. I found out about the International Working Women of Finland event about Success Stories and showing up that day taught me so many lessons.
That day I met many wonderful women, and I remember thinking: Yes, that’s who I want to be, passionate and determined about what I do. That was a lesson I wish everyone could know when they arrive in this city – be who you are, be passionate about what you do and show up. Eventually the right person will recognize your enthusiasm. For me that was my internship supervisor in Pyynikin Brewing Company Oy and Kelly Keodara, founder of Bloom ry.
I decided to stick around all the interesting people I met at that event and kept expanding my network. Networking at that point wasn’t just expanding professional networks and about getting where I want to be, but it showed me a variety of skills, behaviours and talents that helped me improve my social skills and cultural openness.
In November 2020, Kelly launched Bloom and believe me or not, it was all I could wish for. Such a disappointment came when I saw the Communication Officer wasn’t needed yet. I decided anyway to give my share of good to that community, sharing what I found useful on my journey to success, with hope to make someone else’s path at least a tiny bit easier. As you can tell, here I am, a Communications Officer at Bloom ry. If you ask me, finding your courage to just go for it and do what makes you happy is halfway to success.
For more information about Bloom, visit www.bloomtogether.fi