Petra chats with Kadiya, who graduated from the University of Jyväskylä last year and has an 18-month-old son. Kadiya moved from Urumqi, China to Finland in 2015, when her husband got a PhD position at the University of Jyväskylä.
Before moving to Finland, the couple had heard only of the cold winters and of course about Nokia; Kadiya admits that they had no precise knowledge about what the country looks like. It was her first time living abroad, and she was excited to see the differences in culture.
The need for personal space in Finland caused a bit of culture shock when Kadiya first arrived. She was also surprised at how everything is done by appointment, from scheduling a doctor’s visit to spending time with friends. She worried about what would happen if she had an emergency and couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment. Eventually, she began to appreciate this.
“Scheduling things in advance leaves more time for myself and my family.”
Kadiya appreciates that the culture is based in trust and that everyone is so honest, but struggles with the cold weather and fitting in with Finnish society. She believes that dealing with the winter and the cultural difficulties requires the right mindset. “You need to meditate, socialise, change your attitude about finding a job, and stay positive!” she advises.
Kadiya reflects that studying while pregnant was very stressful. With her family far away and no help at hand, she had to do a lot of positive self-talking to convince herself that she was doing a great job. However, she acknowledges that she benefited from the supportive system in Finland. Finnish hospitals kept in contact with her from the first day of her pregnancy, and provided her with a midwife and maternity care package. Although it was difficult to maintain her focus on studying while going through her first pregnancy, Kadiya is grateful for the experience.
“Being a mother teaches me how to be strong, how to be brave, and how to be bold,” she says. “I find I’m getting great at multitasking, and sharing parenting responsibilities with my husband has been an uplifting experience.”
When she is not busy being a mom, Kadiya develops “resolution” projects of different themes each month. In 2020, she has been doing new projects each week. This week, her project involves reading and summarising an early childhood book. She is also taking an online course in entrepreneurship at Aalto University for free, and maintaining her education blog.
If Kadiya could give a piece of advice to her past self, it would be to not= generalise.
“You need to experience things before forming your opinion,” she says. ”Enjoy the process of learning. When networking, you need to step out of your comfort zone to get stronger even though you won’t be accepted everywhere you go.”
Starting Up – a free online course by Aalto University