Davide moved to Finland from Italy in August of 2017, when he was 25 years old. He was drawn by his interest in the Finnish language, his love of nature and cold weather, and his desire to experience Finnish winter and snow. He began taking language courses at the University of Jyväskylä, where he met Jean. He persisted in his studies, reaching Level B2.
Before arriving, Davide had a vague interest in Nordic countries and had visited Norway, Ireland, Finland, and Sweden briefly and infrequently. Despite his limited exposure to the country before arriving, he did not experience culture shock in the beginning. Because he was in a young and international crowd for the first seven or eight months, the culture shock he expected did not set in. He was interested in meeting Finnish people, as he planned to stay in Finland long-term, but this proved somewhat difficult. He also found it challenging to fit in with the younger and less serious university crowd.
Culture shock did set in eventually, when he moved to Helsinki and began working life. Leaving for Helsinki with no backup plan was scary and challenging.
"I almost felt like crying,” he reflected. “Am I really doing the right thing?”
Davide leap of faith, setting himself a money limit and resolving to return if he didn't find anything before he ran out of cash. Having a deadline pushed him to work harder on the application process.
“I was applying like a machine, sending applications every day,” he recalled.
Davide eventually got a job, but only after sending out 50 CVs and scoring just two interviews. He reflected on the difficulty of even landing an interview, especially for foreigners. It wasn’t until he visited Luckan Integration and learned how to refine his CV that he began hearing back. In addition to developing a strong cover letter, Davide emphasized the importance of having a positive attitude.
After landing a job that he was happy with, Davide was impressed with the working culture in Finland, especially when compared to Italy. In Italy, he says, there is a focus on productivity that can lead employees to work overtime without pay. He recalls experiencing a feeling of stress and drama in the workplace that he does not see in Finland. In general, Davide finds that there is a more relaxed working culture in Finland with a healthier work-life balance.
Although he was lacking friends when he moved to Helsinki and experienced difficulty finding support systems, he could rely on his girlfriend for support. He met her early in his exchange program through Tinder, and he is extremely grateful for her good listening skills and patience in helping him interpret Finnish customs and behaviour. Davide has not personally experienced discrimination for being in a multinational relationship; however, he does read articles that express bizarre and prejudiced opinions on the topic.
Despite the hardships, Davide appreciates many aspects of Finnish culture. For one thing, Davide appreciates Finnish people's trust and in government and society. For example, it makes him happy to see passersby throwing away other people's trash, and he feels safe in a society which values honesty so highly. Nevertheless, he does miss the food back home and finds Finnish drinking habits to be a bit much compared to what he is used to.