Immigrant employment: Pessi Ilmari, job hunting & a possible future in Finland

by , under All categories, Enrique

Comment: I got to know about Steverp’s blog thanks to @raitapaita. There is a moving blog entry below that Steve gave us permission to publish on Migrant Tales.

Can anyone offer Steve some advice? He’s looking for a job in Finland from London. His child and wife live in Finland. 

Migrant Tales would be more than happy to publish these types of stories on the blog. If you are interested, inquire at migranttalesblog@gmail.com.

__________________

By Steverp

So, another one. This seems almost therapeutic at the moment, so am going to carry on while I still have the impetus to do so. I was going to do a separate job-hunting & Finland blog, but as they are kind of inter-linked it makes sense to combine them in to one.

As previously mentioned, I’m currently looking at moving to Finland. People that don’t know me are always taken a-back by this, but there’s one very simple reason for wanting this move – my son.

As I alluded to in my previous blog, when things ended The Ex was pregnant & went back to Finland. Things didn’t end that well, so for a long, long time I was in two minds as to what to do in regards to involvement with my boy. Now, I’d never just walk away, but things were very difficult for a while & it was an option that was honestly considered. Every decision tore at my heart & I really didn’t know what to do with myself.

I had to be there for the lil’ man & once he was born & I saw his face (on Skype at first) I knew I had to do everything I could to be as close as possible to him. The initial plan was to move to London (more money & easier to travel abroad) & go over as often as possible. But after my first visit I knew that this wouldn’t suffice. Logistically it was also going to be a pain. It would be a struggle financially no matter where I was living, so after first holding him in my arms I knew I had to start making a ‘plan’ to be with him.

Our first meeting <3

Pessi Ilmari was born on 25th October 2010. I had originally planned to be there when he was due, but the plans fell through, so I travelled over as soon as I could which was a few weeks in to November. When I first walked in & saw him laying there I had to hold back the tears. He was the most gorgeous thing I’d ever seen.

It was then that I decided I had to start planning on what to do with myself & my life. I wanted to be as involved as possible, but it would be difficult being in the UK. My plan was pretty basic – three steps.

  • Step 1 – move to London. Moving straight to Finland wasn’t practical at the time, so London would be my first destination. It would hopefully provide me with a bit more money (it hasn’t, by the way!) & would reduce travel time & costs when going to Finland. It also adds massive weight to a CV to have the head-quarters of an internationally recognised organisation on there.
  • Step 2 – Find/secure a job in Finland. The most sensible thing to do in my situation is wait to secure a role before I move. This has its pros & cons, but is the best option under the circumstances.
  • Step 3 – move to Finland. London was my middle point, Finland was my final destination (& still is). I’m now doing everything to find & secure a role over there.

The move to London has been quite stressful at times – trying to find a place to live while living over 100 miles away is not easy & mainly because of work messing up my salary & onboarding once I did secure a role & move up. I’m here now though, but as with Australia, I don’t feel 100% settled as I know there is now a further step to work towards. If you read my Tweets you’ll also see that my current living situation doesn’t help matters either (more to do with who I’m living with than anything else).

So, hunting for a job in Finland …… it’s been difficult & after a year is still ongoing. When based in Poole, applications to Finland were tentative, now I’m on a mission & I spend a large part of the week trawling the internet for roles & applying for pretty much anything & everything.

There are a couple of fundamental problems with trying to find a job in Finland when you’re not Finnish –

  1. The language. I’ve tried self-teaching via CDs, books, online etc, but where I don’t ever get to practice it, a lot of it tends to go in one ear & out the other. I had hoped to enrol in a language course in London, but with my salary only slightly increasing & my basic cost of living rocketing it hasn’t really been an option.
  2. Attitudes towards foreigners. All of the Finns I know & converse with are lovely people, but the country itself & it’s mindset are quite “old school”. Because of this there still seems a reluctance to hire foreigners (perpetuated by the current economic climate). I’ve chatted to quite a few expats over there as well as Finnish agencies & HR people, & the one thing I’ve been told more than any other is that as a Brit I’ll struggle to find a job when so many Finns are also looking. By & large, Finnish companies would rather employ a slightly under-qualified Finnish person (who would take longer to learn the role etc), than employ a qualified/experienced Brit. I can kind of understand this to a certain extent – in a country with a small population you want to do your best for your fellow Finns & see your own people prosper ….. but this isn’t always great business sense. It makes looking for a job, & ultimately securing one, that much harder for myself.  But as we’ve come in to the new year & companies have new financial budgets & are especially looking at international revenue streams, I’ve had a bit more luck & it seems that some companies are wising up to this.

Since mid-December I’ve had a real interest from an agency (have completed a telephone interview, personality test, motivation test, practical problem-solving test, provided two references from colleagues – shout out to Ricky & Phil – & a final 30-odd question sheet). Another consulting company have also been in touch & I recently had an initial interview via Skype. I’m hoping to hear back from both in the next week or two. In the meantime I’ll continue trawling through all the usual sites, applying for pretty much anything that I think I could do a decent job at – be that bar work, an office job, a Business Analyst, or HesBurger – whatever it takes & as long as it pays enough to cover my rent & let me look after & provide for my boy I don’t really care!

I could/would flip burgers ….. maybe……

So for now, the search continues. I’ll be back on Monster etc tomorrow (in between writing the final two blogs, hopefully – maybe). Again, if anyone reads this & can offer any advice or contacts (whether it’s work, places to live, anything really), please do feel free to get in touch – any info/help is alwaysmuch appreciated. & a BIG ‘thank you‘ to those that have offered advice/help so far!

Just on a final note, & to put a smile on my own face, here’s the lil’ man today – causing trouble, as he seems to be doing more often now…..

No more emails….

  1. steverp

    Thanks for re-posting this & thanks to those that have read it.

    Just to clarify, just looking to move over to be with my son. Myself & his mum split up nearly two years ago when she was still pregnant & she went back to Finland while I remained in the UK.

    • Enrique

      Hi Steve, it is our pleasure. We hope things work out fine for you.

  2. Allan

    Hmmm… so at the end of the day you’re a “Business Analyst”, I gather, without much technical side? As you probably have gone through all the “big ones” (Tieto, Logica, Accenture… Nokias down the drain) you might know your competition has increased with the past 2 years with all the layoffs. And you are in a niche environment.

    They believe it is easier to train a coder to draw UML diagrams, but its more difficult to make a BA code, and they have a lot of coders to choose from. Your interviews look pretty promising as the job situation in the UK with the redundancies is still “good” what it is compared to Finland – I think it would be the same as one of your mates from Perth trying to score a job in Poole, and Poole was the whole country.

    As for the language…There is a lot of online materials available and places like FinlandForum’s “kielikoulu” section once you get advanced, but you also need to get some practice speaking – otherwise you get onto a wrong mode and everyone gets their ears bleeding… Yes, in IT it is first you need to speak “computer” but for BA you need to be speaking with the customers, and if thats domestic you are shafted… yes all the big ones are “company language English”… snarf.
    So in any case – when and if you get to Finland, start learning the language even if you can wallow in an expat bubble. You wont regret that (even if it does your head in).

  3. justicedemon

    Besides the Embassy, the only place in London where Finnish is regularly spoken is the Finnish Church in Rotherhithe (it’s right next to the southern entrance to the Rotherhithe Tunnel). This is not so much a place of worship nowadays as a full-service drop-in and social centre for all things Finnish. I would recommend visiting for the weekly sauna (you will find the timetable on the website). Turn up an hour early to leaf through the Finnish newspapers etc., and then hang around afterwards for coffee. After a couple of visits your face will be familiar to the staff and other regulars, and you may also make some useful contacts.

    This is also a place to ask about Finnish language courses and other Finland-related interests in the London area.

    Books, tapes and courses for adults seek to set out a language in an ordered and systematic manner, but real language acquisition is largely an unconscious and unstructured process. It is important to hear the language – lots and lots of it – even if you don’t actively listen to it. This is much easier to do nowadays than it was back in the day when I had Finnish shortwave radio playing softly in my home day and night. Just find a good chat station on the net and leave it switched on all the time, but not so loud as to be distracting. Remember: this is not for active listening, but passive and largely unconscious reception. After a while you will begin to recognise bits and pieces of an otherwise incomprehensible wall of background sound. This is important, even though you do not yet know what these segments mean. Which station you choose is up to you, but obviously there’s Yle Puhe 103.7, and this has the advantage of regular news broadcasts in plain Finnish.

    • Enrique

      Steve, when you cannot speak Finnish well one of the things I recommend is to visit the owner or a manager of the company. Certainly it depends what kind of a job you are trying to get. If you are looking for work at a restaurant, you would have better chances if you asked for a job in person.

      So why don’t you come to Finland if its possible and give it a try?

      There’s another good website you should visit: My Finland is International.

  4. Allan

    OK, who are you and what did you do to “justcedemon”? The answer is not to learn Finnish, but as Ricky says, prance over the light shining out of your bum, make demands, force yourself on KELA as you got entitlement and human rights and then whine about racism… Thats called celebrating multiculturalism. 😉

  5. justicedemon

    No, Allan, Steverp is not the straw man that you tediously attack here on a regular basis in a silly attempt to demonise immigrants. This is why you get trounced over and over again in factual debate.

    In more than 20 years of working with immigrants in Finland I have only ever once come across immigrant who even began to display the character of your mythological undeserving scrounger: a USAmerican who secured his residence on the basis of distant Finnish ancestry. I think he most amply demonstrated and exemplified the social cost of racist legislation. Indeed USAmericans with at least one Finnish grandparent have no real need for costly medical insurance when they can instead come to Finland, declare their intention to immigrate as returnees, and very rapidly qualify for a standard of health care that would be well beyond their means in the USA.

    But of course this kind of immigrant is not uppermost in your mind as you try to reprise the themes of Der Ewige Jude.

  6. steverp

    Enrique, in an ideal world I would spend time over there meeting people, enquiring about jobs etc, but unfortunately I have a full-time job here & any spare time/money I get is spent with/on my son. I’m hoping to come over for a bit longer in Feb/March & hope to have some time to set up some meetings & visit a few agencies/companies.

    Justicedemon, a couple of great tips – thanks. I’ll try & check out the Finnish Church in the next couple of weeks & will get the radio tuned in 😉

    Allan, There’s a bit more to a BA role than that. & as for the language – I am currently trying to self-teach (as it explains in my blogs) & I certainly don’t intend to “wallow in an expat bubble” when I move over – I’d like to think that would be fairly obvious from this & my other blogs. & as for your second comment, I’m not even sure if that’s aimed at me or not, but either way I’m here for information & advice, not to embark on petty squabbles.

    Thanks for the info so far guys. Much appreciated. 🙂

  7. Allan

    Sorry Steve, threres about 10 more “whiney expats” on either FF or Uranusfin any day that done the same or aspiring. Only you have some “sense” in your plan, whereas the rest have the ex-missus moved “back to the farm” all sensible people have moved from to Sweden in the 70’s and Espoo in the 80’s … but it is “cheap”. And then they complain it is racist there is no jobs for an English-speaking carpet-layer in Nowheremäki.

  8. Allan

    That is, the only job is laying bog carpets for justicedemon and Enrique as the “celebrate multiculturalism” whereas the rest adhere to building standards. But thats just me being a racist.

    • Enrique

      Allan, I am just curious: What is your definition of multiculturalism? Is it an immigration policy or does it mean cultural diversity?

  9. Mark

    Allan, why are you trying to misrepresent the arguments against racism? No-one on here says that if an English-speaking carpet layer in Nowheremäki cannot find a job that that is racism. Racism is when people discriminate on the basis of ethnicity or colour. It’s pretty understandable that in Finland a Finnish-speaker will almost always be a better candidate for a job. The question of racism is when the applicant has enough Finnish to do the job, is the most or adequately qualified in other respects, but is systematically denied the opportunity to work on the basis of a discrimination – often of the kind, ‘they won’t fit in in this workplace, it would be better for them to get a job somewhere else’.

    And by the way, you make a good case for being a ‘whiney’ yourself. You are always on here whining about how us expats are moaning and whining about racists, even when we aren’t! 🙂

  10. Mark

    Steve

    Good luck on the hunt for a job. As you probably realise, you might find it easier to get a job outside your field to start with that until you can get settled, improve your Finnish and network into your normal field.

    You could try Sol, a services company that has quite a few non-Finnish speaking employees. You might find yourself cleaning tube trains, but it would be a start.

    You can make an application here (in Finnish):

    http://www.sol.fi/index.php?p=Tyonhakijoille

    If you need help with the application, let us know.

    Are you set up for digs while your visiting your son?

  11. Mark

    Steve

    A couple of years before I came to Finland, I studied a TESOL course in London. I was working with a refugee support group and realised that we needed proper language services, so I did the course as part of the preparation for setting up those courses. I
    then also taught some courses myself. I already had a linguistics-based degree, so it was not such a big shift.

    When I came to Finland, the teaching qualification and experience meant I found work within two weeks of being here, though be aware it is seasonal, so you will perhaps have a long summer break. If you already have a business background, then that is a distinct advantage, because most of the teaching is business English.

    You would have to pay for the course, but it would be a good investment. Teaching can be fun/rewarding too.

  12. justicedemon

    Mark

    That’s a very familiar story, though I would warn steverp that the TEFL sector is tipping into what appears to be a severe recession at the moment.

    Have you joined your relevant trade union?

  13. justicedemon

    Allan

    Even you can see that the story in Turun Sanomat is on a par with this one from a couple of years ago.

    More interesting was the insight into the reading comprehension skills and general competence of our Interior Minister. First she stresses that she only knows what she read in TS:

    Räsänen ei ole saanut tapauksesta tarkempia yksityiskohtia kuin mitä Turun Sanomat kertoi. Uutisen perusteella hän kuitenkin toteaa, että hakemukset vaikuttavat perusteettomilta.

    But then she opines as follows:

    … ryöstäjillä ei … ole edellytyksiä anoa turvapaikkaa Suomesta, sillä nykylainsäädännön mukaan turvapaikkaa voidaan hakea vain Suomessa. Ruotsalaisesta vankilasta virallista turvapaikka-anomusta ei voida siis tehdä.

    The trouble is that the TS article does not say that the asylum claims were submitted in Sweden. It is quite consistent, and indeed much more credible, to assume that they were submitted in Finland when the applicants were informed of the (appealable) prisoner transfer decision and before that decision was implemented. If the claims were submitted in Sweden, then they were not filed anyway and this is a non-story. Räsänen’s comments about a safe country of origin then become an irrelevant distraction, as there is no claim to process on this basis.

  14. justicedemon

    Mark

    One of the problems of TEFL in Finland is precisely that it is viewed as a stepping stone or entry occupation. You should have been suspicious at how easily you landed a specialist position teaching “business English” with very little general experience. Elsewhere in Europe the entry-level qualification would be an RSA diploma or an MA in applied linguistics and two years of full-time chalkface experience.

  15. Mark

    JD

    And if 2-years experience is the ‘entry-level’ qualification, how do people ever get into the sector in the first place? 🙂

    If you have a university level degree and a Cert, you can teach almost anywhere in Europe, JD. Look around the sites and you’ll see its true.

    Here’s one example, Czech Republic: http://www.mzv.cz/washington/en/culture_events/education/information_for_teachers_of_english/index.html

    And another, Poland: http://www.teachingenglishinpoland.com/qualificationandsexperience.html

    Both mention Cert as being adequate, and even the industry norm, which I would agree with:

    The fact is, is that a school knows what it’ll get with a teacher with a CELTA/Trinity and it’s recognised as the industry norm.

    Schools usually put more emphasis on having a college/university degree as well, preferably in a subject that has a strong linguistic element.

  16. Mark

    I wasn’t suspicious, JD. I had a first class linguistics-based degree and a specific teaching qualification, I’d been running my own company and a charity in London for several before I came to Finland. I would have snapped myself up for the job! 🙂

  17. Allan

    Mark – there is no “racism” in Finland due to skin color or any percieved “race”. There is discrimination against “cultures” that are incompatible with the society. Being “foreign” means you can have a lot of “incompatible” features in your baggage, not necessarily being stupid as such though being unable to communicate makes you socailly invalid, but just lackingthe common sense – as defined by the Finns, as it is their society and a foreign definitionr definition of common sense is different. Just like driving in the UK – it is not on the “wrong” side of the road when I am here.

  18. Allan

    Enrique – the kebab meat shop in Turku is an example of “multiculturalism”. They had their “own culture” rules of employment and food hygiene, instead of Finnish culture

    • Enrique

      –They had their “own culture” rules of employment and food hygiene, instead of Finnish culture.

      Thank you for not answering the question. Food hygiene is important in many cultures, especially among Muslims and Jews who have strict laws on what they can eat. Why do you think both cultures prohibit eating pork? It has to do with hygiene.

      You are pushing it with you definition of multiculturalism. If a restaurant does not respect hygiene that is called breaking the law. It has nothing to do with “multiculturalism.” If a Finn goes to Thailand and is a pedophile, is that Finnish “monoculturalism;” i.e. we are “independent” to break the law as we wish abroad because in our culture “independence” is promoted. See how ridiculous your argument?

      Are you related to James Hirvisaari?

  19. Allan

    JD – Not wishing to disparage the beacons of intelligence created ministers, but IIRC Belgium is the only country an EU citizen can apply for asylum from without prejudice. Could be due to hosting the EU.

  20. Allan

    As far as teaching goes – the higher the level of education, the lower the formal qualifications get. To be an “English teacher” say for grade 8 you need to have a masters degree in English philology to start with… With a TEFL cert you can go lecture in an university – of course paid as an “unqualified” as they have the tenured positions set at a higherformal level.

    Problem is, every Tom, Dick and Jorge coming off Ryanair thinks they’re gods gift to “engrish teeching” so the competition is quite fierce.

  21. justicedemon

    Mark

    I said two years’ experience is part of the entry-level qualification for teaching business English – which is understood as a form of TESP.

    I doubt that you could get a TESP position in any country with a developed EFL sector (e.g. Portugal, France, Italy, the Netherlands). It’s no accident that you found lower entry-level qualifications for some former eastern bloc States, but even here I would expect to find growing awareness that TESP is considerably more demanding when done correctly.

    The RSA preparatory certificate (and other corresponding qualifications based on a four-week full-time or 13-week part-time orientation course) is generally intended for graduates anyway, though I think International House occasionally admitted non-graduate preparatory certificate course trainees with special aptitude acquired in some other way.

  22. Allan

    “No, Allan, Steverp is not the straw man that you tediously attack here on a regular basis in a silly attempt to demonise immigrants. This is why you get trounced over and over again in factual debate.

    In more than 20 years of working with immigrants in Finland I have only ever once come across immigrant who even began to display the character of your mythological undeserving scrounger: a USAmerican who secured his residence on the basis of distant Finnish ancestry. I think he most amply demonstrated and exemplified the social cost of racist legislation. Indeed USAmericans with at least one Finnish grandparent have no real need for costly medical insurance when they can instead come to Finland, declare their intention to immigrate as returnees, and very rapidly qualify for a standard of health care that would be well beyond their means in the USA.”

    So that explains Enrique, but what explains the rest?

  23. justicedemon

    Allan

    You are becoming tedious. You have already decided your conclusions and now you are desperately scratching about looking for evidence, but you lack the nous even to comprehend Finnish sources accurately.

    What is the basis of your expertise on TEFL? Who do you think is hiring the teachers in Finland and is unable to tell the difference between properly qualified staff and your every Tom, Dick and Jorge coming off Ryanair? And why is it that properly qualified staff do not consider Finland a serious place to pursue their careers, but rather a place to make their pre-competence blunders? Can you name even one internationally published EFL author based in Finland to compare, for example, with Peter Watcyn Jones in Sweden?

    As my friend from Kuopio might recommend, saesit männä piätäs kuppuuttammaan.

  24. Mark

    JD

    Okay, point taken. I think this framework of ESP has become more prominent since I was studying and teaching. I don’t know.

    The company I worked for supported the teachers with specialised materials for business English, though I did see several inadequacies in them.

  25. Mark

    Allan

    – “Mark – there is no “racism” in Finland due to skin color or any percieved “race”.

    Oh, come on Allan, don’t be so fooking naive.

    – “There is discrimination against “cultures” that are incompatible with the society.”

    Which alone can constitute racism. Come on, brush up Allan. As long as the ‘culture’ doesn’t break Finnish laws, there is no such thing as ‘incompatible’, is there? And even if it did break Finnish laws, there is every chance that the behaviour is that of an individual, and cannot be taken to represent a ‘group identity’, that itself is somehow ‘incompatible’.

    I think most foreigners don’t mind some adaptation, but when fuckers like you start talking crap about ‘incompatible culture, they will dismiss you as jumped up, self-appointed ‘culture-police’, which of course you are.

    – “Being “foreign” means you can have a lot of “incompatible” features in your baggage, not necessarily being stupid as such though being unable to communicate makes you socailly invalid.”

    Lovely choice of words, describing people as ‘invalid’. You are a fukcing Nazi, Allan, even if you don’t want to be. So, those that cannot communicate are socially invalid. Does that include every child under the age of 3 in Finland? Last time I checked, being able to communicate was not a prerequisite for human rights in any human rights convention ever adopted in the history of the world. But hey, you know best!

    – “but just lacking the common sense – as defined by the Finns, as it is their society and a foreign definition of common sense is different.”

    Look Allan, your love of all things Finnish has you blind beyond belief. First, Finns will argue with each other till the trolls come home about what is ‘common sense’. There is no single completely agreed upon view of what is the ‘right way’ in Finnish society as much as there is in any society. So, stop peddling your monocultural nonsense when it doesn’t have a shred of credibility going for it.

  26. Allan

    Mark, I suggest you read “The Imam’s Daughter” by Hannah Shah. That shows exactly how “compatible” cultures are, along with a description of social invalidity due to the lack of communication.

    Last time I checked three-year old kids don’t have a say in the government. You get rights when you become an adult and stop scraming racism in the kindergarten yard.

  27. justicedemon

    Allan

    I cannot be bothered to double-check all of your urban myths. You still owe me an apology for the bogus prison statistics, nor is there any reason to consider you more reliable in this latest twist to your Gish Gallop.

    Ricky, seriously, I think this guy needs an enforced holiday from MT.

  28. Mark

    Allan

    – “Mark, I suggest you read “The Imam’s Daughter” by Hannah Shah. That shows exactly how “compatible” cultures are, along with a description of social invalidity due to the lack of communication.”

    Seeing as you are not one bit interested in filling out your points, lazy bum that you are, Hannah Shah’s story is the true story of a Pakistani girl brought up in Northern England who was abused physically and sexually by her Imam Father, who used a distorted interpretation of Islam to brutalise his family. She received no help from her community or from social services in the UK, who were reluctant to step in. She escaped to freedom and converted to Christianity.

    It’s ironic that you are only interested in the stories of migrants when they suit your political agenda of ‘anti-immigration’. I suppose what are saying by this is that Pakistani Muslims are okay in Britain as long as they convert to Christianity?

    Anyhow, recently I was also reading about an American pastor who kept 10 families in brutal isolation in his own personal cult, abusing one and attempting to abuse another of his daughters, restricting the freedom of all members of his congregation, taking their earnings and basically deciding on every element of their ‘faith’ in conjunction with his wife. They were threatened with Hell and Damnation if they ever tried to get out. All of this was done in the name of Christianity.

    So, taking your analogy, am I supposed to condemn all Christian cultures as ‘incompatible’ with Finland’s? The circumstances of the two stories are very similar, so why would the conclusion be any different, I ask?

    So what do you mean by ‘socially invalid’? Your thoughts are about as clear as mud, as usual.

  29. Allan

    Mark, what I am saying is, that the story of Hannah shows exactly why “multiculturalism” does not work. There is a “community” with its own set of rules and the social workers “respecting” while they would be expected to provide equality. What comes to the communication issue, the story of Hannah’s mother is an example of how she has a handicap not being able to speak with her neighbours – which she tries to overcome until the tyrant father finds out.

    I am not saying there would not be similar sad stories in any other community. Likewise I am not saying that would be the story in all communities – religious or otherwise. However Hannah writes of forced marriages and a culture women are being oppressed – which kind of oppression has been weeded out from the western society. So then why do we promote this in the name of “multiculturalism”? The rules should be the same fpr all, the opportunities equal for all.

    • Enrique

      Allan, so “multiculturalism” does not work. Can you give us your integration model? Remember we humans are imperfect and there is no such thing as a perfect society. So, I await, your suggestion.

  30. Allan

    Sweden had a pretty good “integration model” in the 60’s before they went silly in the 70’s. They were heavily focused on language education, even to the extent in schools the kids werent allowed to use other languages. Maybe pretty harsh, but effective.

    France has had a similar approach, your “frenchness” is in the end what counts. The UK is these days having a test, or an equivalent language/culture course for citizenship. Basically there are good ideas out there, Finland needs to come up with something a bit more effective than what they do now. An excellent thing was they now added everyone immigrating is entitled to this “kotoutuminen”. Thats a good start at least.

    • Enrique

      Allan, if we look at the Finns of Southern Spain, Argentina or North America, they too want to keep their identity. They built churches, communities, newspapers and asked their relatives and friends to move to these countries. If you look at immigration today in Europe and elsewhere, the story is pretty much the same. One key element of integration, or adaption as I like to call it, is diversity. It is important because people should be allowed to realize themselves culturally and personally in our society. Isn’t that the difference between our societies and totalitarian ones?

      That is the reason why I believe that mutual acceptance is key. If you add equal opportunities to the picture, you are on your way to building a dynamic society where otherness isn’t scorned. When you hate, use racism and prejudice to exclude others, it’s pretty clear that nothing good can come out except more hatred and resentment.

      In other words, use an integration model that works for everyone. In that model there must be acceptance and respect for cultural diversity. Integration shouldn’t be a policy whereby people aim to become the stereotypes of how the majority thinks they should adapt.

  31. Mark

    Allan

    – “Mark, what I am saying is, that the story of Hannah shows exactly why “multiculturalism” does not work. There is a “community” with its own set of rules and the social workers “respecting” while they would be expected to provide equality.”

    But you are confusing several things here and ignoring a ton more. First, many of the rules are ‘cultural’ rules, meaning they can be broken and no-ones going to court. Of course, it’s difficult to leave a community that includes your family, but leaving is not the only option when you realise that your values are a little different to your parents, which happens for many people in Britain. Just take the 60s and the transition from the Victoria pre-War values. These tensions are pretty bog standard in ANY culture, and in that sense, it has not a lot to do with multiculturalism.

    Second, the key issues in terms of difficulties in Hannah’s case was that her father was abusive, to almost everyone close to him. He not only broke the law, but also the moral codes of his religion. Believe it or not, there are many interpretations of Islam, the majority of which have been moderate and prefaced on a teaching of love and compassion. To ignore that is to do a complete disservice to Muslims and to have a very broken picture about the role of religion in today’s Britain or any modern democracy. Defending multiculturalism is not defending the right of individuals or communities to brutalise people. But at the same time, there are many instances within British Christian culture where religion has steered away from the mainstream and has ‘imprisoned’ people. To a large extent, people must find their own way through these cultural, family and religious landscapes. That is part of the freedom of citizenship.

    Third, there are constantly failures in the social support system that is supposed to act as a safety net and to protect the rights of children especially. While we hope for a perfect system, it’s clear that will never be the case, even if we turned ourselves into a total-surveillance society. There are many instances where both social services and the local community have failed individuals, regardless of which community or ethnicity they belong to. This is not a failure of multiculturalism – this is the limitations and learning of individuals within ANY community. The social welfare system has to find a balance between respecting cultures and protecting the rights of their clients. Of course, the clients must come first, and any social worker will tell you that. But it is also important to understand and respect people’s freedoms. When these two are in conflict, when someone justifies or hides abuse under a cultural banner, then it is the job of welfare services to step in. But knowing and seeing that balance is not easy, and you holding up those cases where they fail and completely ignoring those cases that they succeed in is completely letting the profession –

    – “I am not saying there would not be similar sad stories in any other community.”

    Good. First sensible thing I’ve heard from you!

    – “However Hannah writes of forced marriages and a culture women are being oppressed – which kind of oppression has been weeded out from the western society. So then why do we promote this in the name of “multiculturalism”? The rules should be the same fpr all, the opportunities equal for all.”

    And these are valid points too. There are elements that should be criticized within some, though by no means all, Islamic communities. The role and rights of women are often localised to countries, with some countries in the Islamic world offering women many of the kinds of freedoms found typically in the West, such as Bangladesh, Indonesia etc. Others do not. It is only a few decades since ‘we’ in the West started to liberate women. But let’s not us ‘men’ take too much credit for it either, because it was largely the work of women that liberated women in the countries like Finland and Britain.

    And even today, many many issues still exist. In Finland, women are on temporary contracts to a far larger extent than men, which completely undermines their right to paid child leave. Likewise, salaries between sectors (male dominated and female dominated) have large variations in their salaries, even if men and women within each sector are on equal pay. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves thinking we, especially as men, are somehow pioneering women’s rights.

    But multiculturalism does not mean that culture is not open to scrutiny or criticism. On the contrary, it supports that kind of criticism, especially from within cultures. The problem with criticism is when it’s only done to support another agenda, such as, ‘these cultures are incompatible – keep immigrants out’. People take the negatives within a minority culture and use that as a way of saying, we don’t want ‘your culture’. That is not genuine cultural critique. That’s basically muck racking. And you see to have a very great misunderstanding about this, imagining that we here on migrant tales, or anyone who basically supports multiculturalism, is not capable of seeing ‘any evil’. That is just misrepresenting the views of multiculturalists.

    You seem to view multiculturalism in a very moral way, talking about what is right and wrong about cultures, what is acceptable, and often treading of people’s freedoms in the process. I think that multiculturalism is far more pragmatic than that, because it recognises that many cultures exist, that the world is progressively more ‘multi-ethnic’, and so achieving a sense of tolerance for that which is ‘different’ is a pretty fundamental prerequisite to a peaceful society. The problem with attacking multiculturalism is that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You attack those of foreign origin saying they don’t integrate enough – that makes them feel alienated in their ‘home’ country and so they become disaffected youth, thus giving more material for those that attack multiculturalism. This is quite typical for example of a small group of Somali youth in Helsinki.

    The simple heart of the matter is that you, meaning YOU Allan, have to work harder to properly separate or connect the behaviour of individuals with the cultural context in which it takes place. You cannot take the behaviours of a minority and paint the whole community with those colours. And likewise, you cannot simply individualise every problem so that the only conclusion left when faced with for example the problems of disaffected youth, by blaming their ethnicity and deciding that there is something intrinsically wrong or ‘incompatible’ about it. There are far too many examples of ‘compatibility’ to make that rather stupid and rash conclusion, AND it ignores the often structural and institutional problems, such as poverty, deprivation or discrimination that all add fuel to the fire. AND I am not saying it’s everyone else’s fault except these youths who are anti-social, I’m saying that it’s a coming together of many factors, both individual, community based, structural, institutional, and to do with power- and social relations between the minorities and the majority.

    This is not difficult to understand or even too controversial. Just have an open mind and don’t assume that anyone who defends multiculturalism is an idiot. That kind of thinking doesn’t get you very far or give a great deal of perspective or experience to your opinion.

  32. steverp

    Wow, can’t even be bothered to read/get involved in all of the above. Thanks to those that have made useful comments though (amongst all that).

    Mark, just checking out the SOL link now – thanks for that. In regards to digs, I stay at the same hotel in Espoo each time – is the best placed hotel to get to/from the ex’s with ease. Unfortunately combine that with flights etc & that’s why it’s a struggle to get over as often as I’d like!

    Jaakko, more detail about me & my background is in another blog post of mine. But at a high level I have over 10 years experience within operational areas of banking (Corporate, Trades, Retail & Business banking) & around 6 years as a Business Analyst.

    • Enrique

      Our pleasure, Steve! We wish you the best of luck in your job-hunting in Finland.

      I think your blog entry opened up a very important question to immigrants living in this country. Please keep us abreast and share your experiences with us. I am certain other bloggers can learn and get some good ideas.

      We hope to hear more of you and your thoughts about Finland.

  33. Allan

    @ Mark
    “First, many of the rules are ‘cultural’ rules, meaning they can be broken and no-ones going to court.”

    But you have this diverse community ready to throw you off the balcony if you oppose being sent you to your cousin to be married. The existance of such communities is exactly due to multiculturalism. If people move to country X why do they still want to live in country Y if that is what they want? Country X is country X, because people there don’t live as in country Y.

    “Defending multiculturalism is not defending the right of individuals or communities to brutalise people.”

    Yes it is – its racism and xenophobia to oppose any human rights to be criminal.

    “The social welfare system has to find a balance between respecting cultures and protecting the rights of their clients.”

    Official policy should be respecting the victims and not the criminals.

    “You attack those of foreign origin saying they don’t integrate enough – that makes them feel alienated in their ‘home’ country… ”

    My country is this way because we made it this way, their country is what they made of it. Why do they wish to make my home like the country they came from if they don’t want to live there? I don’t want to live in their country – if I did I’d move there.

    “You cannot take the behaviours of a minority and paint the whole community with those colours.”

    Oh, so here we go again, its only “individuals” making the offences and honor killings have nothing to do with the “community” or the “culture”.

    “Just have an open mind and don’t assume that anyone who defends multiculturalism is an idiot.”

    Your mind is so open that your brains flow on the street.

    Just tell me how I should celebrate diversity reading how some foreigner raped a 16-year old girl in the bus. YOU are responsible! YOU defend these people! YOU defend their “human right” right to have a rape-culture! YOU!

    • Enrique

      Allan, this is not going to turn to a tit for tat, even if that is what you want. Any sensible person can read your far-right views between the lines. It’s your argument strategy and what adjectives you use.

      But one more thing: Cultural diversity is here to stay. No matter how much you kick and bitch it will not go away. That’s a fact. Are you going to whine about something you cannot change?

  34. justicedemon

    Allan

    Well, I agree that if that’s what multiculturalism really means, then it doesn’t sound very nice.

    The problem is that this is not what it means. This is merely a straw man that you have created in your mind, because you are too lazy, too shy and too stupid to meet and learn about people from a wide variety of backgrounds and to think for yourself.

    its racism and xenophobia to oppose any human rights to be criminal.

    Show me any reputable source that claims this, or any statute that supports this idiotic tabloid soundbite.

    Official policy should be respecting the victims and not the criminals.

    Doesn’t it respect both in civilised countries? That’s why I can’t shoot at your SUV when you scare my kids by driving down my road at 80 mph in your SUV.

    My country is this way because we made it this way, their country is what they made of it. Why do they wish to make my home like the country they came from if they don’t want to live there? I don’t want to live in their country – if I did I’d move there.

    Tell us again: where do you live? I understand that you are just another UK immigrant from Eastern Europe.

    Who is this we that you are talking about? Sounds like a lot of Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer mythological bullshit to me. What does the dna test say about your origins, and do you also take responsibility for the crimes of your forebears while insisting that you own the fruits of their labour (over and above the fruits of your own)?

    Oh, so here we go again, its only “individuals” making the offences…

    That’s right, Allan. And that’s why the UK immigration authorities didn’t make castration a condition of your entry to the UK, nothwithstanding the behaviour abroad of the Finnish serial child rapist Jouko Petri Jaatinen.

    • Enrique

      Allan, sure you are. Go to Southern Spain and tell me how the Finns are adapting to Spanish culture. In your book it would be disgraceful behavior. The reason why you allow Finns to NOT assimilate and demand that of other immigrants is because you are multiculturally/internculturally challenged.

  35. Mark

    Allan

    So your post did get published.

    – “But you have this diverse community ready to throw you off the balcony if you oppose being sent you to your cousin to be married. The existance of such communities is exactly due to multiculturalism. If people move to country X why do they still want to live in country Y if that is what they want? Country X is country X, because people there don’t live as in country Y.”

    You dodged the point. Throwing someone off the balcony is breaking UK law and those responsible would be prosecuted. That is incompatible and it’s not tolerated. You will go to prison if you do it. However, the truth is that native Brits do lots of nasty things to each other for jealousy, for pride, for honour, for evil gratification, for revenge, etc. But you don’t go after British culture, do you. If you are saying it shouldn’t be allowed, it’s not allowed. If you are saying it shouldn’t happen, I’d say you need to get real – crime happens. And nothing in the multicultural program says it’s okay to throw someone off a balcony. So why blame multiculturalism. You might as well blame culturalism.

    – “Yes it is – its racism and xenophobia to oppose any human rights to be criminal.”

    Allan, this is not English. I’d only be guessing if I said I knew what you were trying to get at. But I can categorically tell you that multiculturalism does not say ‘Go ahead and brutalise your fellow man’. Multiculturalism promotes peace and tolerance and human rights. How you get from ‘human rights’ to ‘criminal’, I’ve no idea. How you then connect that to racism is even more of a mystery.

    “Official policy should be respecting the victims and not the criminals.”

    If, as you say, there are criminals, then a crime has been committed. If there is evidence of a crime, the police are called in. It’s that simple. However, sometimes in social work, it’s not clear that a crime has been committed. As for respect, JD has it spot on.

    – “My country is this way because we made it this way, their country is what they made of it.”

    Actually, not any single individual is responsible for the way their country is, good or bad. However, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that you wouldn’t see very much good coming out of African or Asian countries anyway in the way of culture. Shame. I guess you don’t realise the massive influence that African music has had on modern music. I doubt you’ll give credit at all. You assume their culture or country is just ‘bad’. Oh, and for historical context, our ‘country’ is this way partly because we used large armies in the past to exploit ‘their’ country, a situation that they have still not recovered from.

    – “Oh, so here we go again, its only “individuals” making the offences and honor killings have nothing to do with the “community” or the “culture”.

    I thought this would be your response. I did not say that it had nothing to do with culture or community. I said that the actions of one individual cannot be used to paint the whole community. You do a great dishonour to Muslim and Asian cultures if you imagine that this practice is wholly supported. I will refer you to the Henna Foundation, as just one of hundreds of community based charities working to outlaw such practices from within their communities and to give support to people, mostly women, who are affected by such customs. Likewise, laws were introduced into England and Wales in 2008 outlawing forced marriages and providing protection to those seeking a way out. ‘Multicultural’ Britain does not tolerate or condone such things. If you tie these these to ‘multiculture’, you might as well complain about culture. I would have no problem with that. Another genuine advocate for better human rights is most welcome.

    – “Just tell me how I should celebrate diversity reading how some foreigner raped a 16-year old girl in the bus. YOU are responsible! YOU defend these people! YOU defend their “human right” right to have a rape-culture! YOU!”

    That might just be slanderous and libelous, Allan, so mind your manners. YOU are under the jurisdiction of laws of decency too, starting with respectful communications, even on the internet.

    So what are you complaining about here – that a girl was raped, or that she was raped by a foreigner? Personally, I would condemn this. So what’s your beef with me. You are still going to tell me anyway, in your somewhat hysterical manner, that I actually am defending the perpertrator and worse, that I’m claiming he is allowed to do this because it’s somehow ‘his culture’, his ‘rape-culture’? That is simply untrue. But go ahead, deny me a voice, call me a liar, do anything you need to do to avoid seeing the simple reality here – I do not defend this. And neither does multiculturalism.

    Even the much publicised imprisonment of raped women in Afghanistan usually ignores the fact that the perpetrator is also usually in jail, because, yes, rape is a crime in Afghanistan. So the idea that any culture in the world makes it legal or even ‘okay’ to rape is simply false. But what do you know about ‘foreign culture’? Not much it seems.

    Imagine this, too, that she was herself a foreigner, visiting the UK, and she was raped by a Brit, then the very same ‘headline’ would appear in a foreign newspaper ‘Girl raped by foreigner’. What would you make of that, that all Brits are rapists, or that Britain condones rape, or that it’s the fault of all those people who allow Brits to live in Britain? The idea is proposterous. Much like your assertions. Personally, I don’t think you give a shit about that girl on the bus, just the fact that you can use her death to perpetuate and defend your own despicable views. I know what I think that says about you!

  36. Mark

    type ‘use her rape‘ to perpetuate and defend your despicable views. I’m so used to people dredging the absolute worst headlines. All foreigners are rapists and murderers. It’s just nonense, Allan. Plain old horseshit!

    It’s a shame you didn’t go on the attack about ‘masculinity’, because that has a hell of a lot more to do with these kinds of crimes than ‘being foreign’ does. But I suppose that brings it a little too close to home, eh?! Now I’m sure you would be a little defensive if I started to say, like Marilyn French famously did, that ‘all men are rapists’, a slogan taken up by many feminists. Are they right or wrong, Allan?

    • Enrique

      Allan, I really think, like much of the far right, doesn’t get it. If you look at Soini, the PS or even the BNP, it’s all the same song: complain about an issue but offer no solution. If you like Soini, that’s fine. I think he is an opportunist using racism and anti-EU sentiment to further his political career.

  37. Allan

    Honestly, Enrique, I don’t like Soini at all. He’s a controlfreak and thick ( not meaning his weight). He is maybe – I despise him the least. But he is at the moment the only party leader with momentum to change anything. All the old big 3 parties are arrogant, and the Greens and Left are full of clueless assclowns. And dont start me on the SFP gold-spoon arrogants ruling with a heavenly mandate. I support direct democracy so in the municipal elections my hope is on that Muutos crowd, they’re pretty libertarian/anarchistic in a sense.

    • Enrique

      Allan, there are parts of the PS that are far right. This is the Suomen Sisu and Suomalaisuuden liitto wing. Or what would you call IKL?

  38. MaryMekko

    Let’s get back to this poor Brit’s situation, an unmarried father whose wife ran away with the baby, back to Finland. He’s trying hard to reunite with the son, but not the mother, presumably, or else if married, could he not just go there and live with them? Are they not married? I suppose not, silly guy didn’t think ahead in the bedroom.

    Then that is a sticky wicket in any country. His claim is very small indeed…

    Does he even know that he wants to live in Finland? Has he tried the people, life, climate, food, culture, general atmosphere? Perhaps just a few months’ vacation there would do the trick – especially in the heart of winter!

    How about the mother’s opinion? Why go back to Finland? Was she employed, is she educated, is she living off the state as a single mother? If the father moves in with her and gets any kind of job, AND they marry, then there go all those nice benefits out the door.

    This Finnish woman is no dummy. She had her fun abroad, as many Finnish women love to do, caught a nice professional foreigner and got herself pregnant, now she can live off the Finnish taxpayers for years to come, get full med bennies and even an apartment. In USA or England, it would be a hard row to how. So SHE was smart to get out of hard-work-land.

    HE can send a monthly check if he wants, and then SHE won’t have to go back to work.

    My advice to this fellow: slowly but surely it must become clear that she doesn’t care to have you around, kid or no kid, or she wouldn’t have left you, and she’d come halfway to get you up to her Social Welfare Winterland. Without bennies, she’d stick closer to you, bud.

    If you are absolutely determined, forget the online courses and local Finnish Church.

    Take an extended leave of absence and live in Finland, out in the country, volunteer to work on a farm, in a restaurant, or any place where ONLY FINNS work and live. Bring your books and online courses with you, read everything in sight, watch Finnish TV and listen to Finnish radiio constantly, and don’t speak English – stay out of Southern Finland for that.

    A nice long summer with a real job, low or no pay, with a friendly family who understands that your purpose is to learn the language, sort of an older-guy au-pair situation, is perfect. Farms need extra help in the summers, they need specifically men around the joint.

    THEN and only then, if you still like Finland, you could attempt to get into a “real job” with the help of new-found friends and “colleagues” (the other farmhands or lumberjacks?)

    If you think my suggestion absurd, think again. There is no other way to learn a language truly than to dive into the deep end, yes, total immersion. That is how I learned German in six months without taking courses, straight off a plane to a German farm in 1982. It worked like a charm without costing a lot, and involved reading a lot independently with a dictionary. Granted, Finnish is harder, but it can be done for the sake of your “son” (we hope he is!)

    Probably your involvement with him will be limited for a good long time, say when he is ten or eleven and can travel with you, when your ex-lover has got herself a new man and perhaps a sibling or two for your son.

    He is not coming to live with you and be an Englishman, that your lover has decided.

    So either you become a Finn, and embrace all that it means, or be an on-again, off-again, here and there kind of father, as so many foreign men do find themselves after love affairs with Finnish women abroad.

    It won’t be so bad as time goes by. You probably should focus on earning as much as you can for now, get a decent woman who wants to marry with you and stay with you, not take your kids away to a foreign country. If your son accepts your new wife and siblings, all the better, but don’t count on it. Blended families are a tough proposition, yet in your case, it seems an inevitable outcome of some poor choices.

    Finland is a wonderful country. Until you really embrace it wholeheartedly, in all its winter wonderland glory, and its silent people and mournful tango music and porridge-sausage-potato cuisine, then you’ll never connect properly with your Finnish son. So do it!

  39. steverp

    If you want to offer advice & help on my situation, great & thanks, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t (incorrectly) presume things about me, my ex, our situation or my ability/commitment as a father. Thanks.

Leave a Reply