Episode 47

With ADHD in Finland: Roham's Story

Tune into a chat with Roham, originally from Iran, about his experience moving with his wife and daughter to Finland four months ago, in late 2020.

Roham was an English teacher in Tehran before moving to Kuopio to study business administration. His study track focuses on international business, and he hopes to put his education towards a career in entrepreneurship. In addition to study opportunities, Roham moved to Finland so that he could raise his two-year-old daughter in a great environment.

His family moved in late 2020, during the peak of the coronavirus crises. However, while the pandemic certainly made some parts of his life more challenging, Roham actually has COVID to thank for his move to Finland.

The entrance exam for Savonia University was originally supposed to take place in Shang-hai, China. After looking over their finances, Roham and his wife understood that he would not be able to afford the trip. Due to the pandemic, the exam was cancelled; instead applicants were asked to write a motivation letter.

“I wrote everything with honesty,” Roham reflected. “I had heard that Finland is a country where honesty is valued very highly… so, I talked about my dream of being an entrepreneur.”

He was accepted to the university, and packed up his family for a move to Kuopio. The transition from their Tehran, which has a population of 13 million, to a small city of just 100,000 inhabitants, was a difficult adjustment. However, Roham maintains a positive attitude.

“I’m a newcomer here,” he reasoned. “Here, of course, is much better than my own country, so I can only see the positive things for now… even the freezing weather is positive for me.”

As an outgoing and friendly person, Roham usually has no problem making friends. However, met with stereotypically distant Finns, Rohan initially struggled to connect.

“As soon as you befriend Finns, they are so friendly, so talkative,” he said. “They are incredibly kind people, really helpful. My boss is a very very kind person outside and inside of work.”

To make better personal and professional connections, Roham plans to learn Finnish. Although he is passionate and dedicated about learning the language, his ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) challenges his ability to focus.

When Roham was diagnosed at age 6, his mother tried everything to keep him engaged. Guitar lessons, language lessons, sports, he was enrolled in it all. He even developed study tricks to keep himself focused on school assignments.

“I have no shame in saying that I have ADHD, I am very open to share it,” Roham said. “Many people do not even know that they have ADHD, or they think it’s a problem and they are ashamed.”

Roham acknowledged that the experience of living with ADHD can feel different for each individual; he compared his experience to opening six tabs in your internet browser and trying to read them all simultaneously.

"For example, now I am speaking to you, but I am also thinking about what I should make for dinner and what time I need to leave the house tomorrow," he said

ADHD can make reading incredibly difficult, affect short-term memory, increase procrastination, and lead to poor time management. Many people with ADHD or ADD may also experience other disorders, such as RSD (rejection sensitive dysphoria), depression, or anxiety.

However, Roham pointed out, there are also positive effects of ADHD. People with ADHD can be incredibly creative, comfortable speaking in front of groups, and able to hyperfocus when passionate about a particular topic.

Because he wants to be able to focus better on his studies, Roham is now seeking treatment for ADHD through KELA. If you suspect you might have ADHD, Roham suggests taking an online screening test before speaking with a healthcare professional.

We hope you enjoy listening to Roham’s story; we certainly did! We have included resources below for learning more about ADHD and the services available in Finland for people with ADHD.


KELA ADHD Resources

Info about ADHD from the University of Helsinki