Rabea moved to Finland from Germany in 2011, after falling in love with the country’s climate (we were surprised to hear this, too!). Rabea first encountered Finland in the TV show Goodbye Germany. Rabea watched an episode of the show in which a family moved to Lapland. She had always loved snow and winter, and she was enchanted by the dark and cozy atmosphere of the family’s home.
Rabea’s path to Finland had many twists and turns. First, she looked for au pair positions. When that didn’t work out, she tried to enroll in an exchange program. Sadly, her university did not offer an exchange program to Finland at the time.
Rabea then started working as a tutor for international students. In this role, she met many Finnish students. Getting to know them helped her realize that she definitely wanted to move to Finland. When she finally had the chance to visit Finland, Rabea was not disappointed.
“It was as awesome as I thought it would be,” she said.
Finally, her university established an exchange relationship with Finland. She came to Finland on exchange, eventually finding work as an au pair and enrolling in a master’s program in Tampere.
During her exchange program, Rabea volunteered for Erasmus student network. Her volunteer work led to her first job at a travel agency, where she helped organize trips for exchange students to Lapland, Russia, and around the Nordics.
Rabea began volunteering with Mothers in Business last August. A mother herself, Rabea was passionate about enhancing possibilities for combining family and working life. Mothers in Business helps international mothers living in Finland find others in the same situation. The organization also hosts career workshops and facilitates experience sharing.
“Everything used to be in Finnish,” she said. “We noticed that... international mothers do need exactly the same kind of help, if not even more.”
Rabea noted that expat parents share common struggles such as language skills, uncertainty about laws and rights, and lack of nearby support systems.
“There are a lot of questions also concerning daycare,” she said. “I think the most common question is about clothes, and how to dress the kids in winter.”
Rabea’s volunteer work with Mothers in Business helped her to make a recent career change into the IT sector. Her experiences as a working mom also inform her the stories she shares on her podcast, Parenting with Sisu.
Tune in to episode 56 to hear more about Rabea’s top five tips for parents and expats in Finland (we have included them below). As always, please take a moment to check out the links at the bottom of the page.
- Build your own village.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Keep an open mind.
- Find people who feel the same way.