Episode 74

Getting Settled in Finland with Rafaella Troupkou

This week we are coming back with an episode with one of our team’s members – actually the most recent one – Rafaella. Rafaella joined our team six months ago when she moved to Finland to be with her partner and move ahead with her career. Finland is for her a country to admire, like all the Nordics, considering their progressive mentality.

Petra asks Rafaella what kind of preparation she followed before arriving in Finland. Back in Greece, where she comes from, she had already started learning the Finnish language, as she was aware that the language learning process would be an essential part of adapting to the new country. In addition, Rafaella explains that it is necessary to check all the guidelines related to the official paperwork for your stay in Finland (e.g. Migri) before moving to the country, as the paperwork might end up being a stressful process. In her opinion, all the appropriate information for this purpose was easy to find and browse. In general, both Petra and Rafaella agree that the respective paperwork process is significantly easier for EU- citizens in contrast to non-EU-citizens.

Regarding the rest of the processes that she had to follow, Rafaella shares that the process at Migri was a stressful period for her. Unfortunately, the waiting times, probably due to COVID, were long. Waiting for her decision for her right of residence made her even more stressed, mainly because she was browsing other people’s experiences on the internet. Some people mentioned that it took them unusually long to claim their decision. However, she notes after going through this process that this is dependent on the office’s workload. Rafaella recommends not to get distracted by other people's online comments as every person's situation is unique. Aside from Migri, it took her a long time to get to the DVV and proceed with the bank and the unemployment service, as it seems the bureaucratic process can be somewhat of a loop, especially combined with the COVID times.

As a client of the unemployment services office (TE-toimisto), Petra asks Rafaella about her experience. Rafaella tells us that she wanted to use the services to proceed with the intensive Finnish language courses. At the same time, she shares with us how the integration plan about her career and goals in Finland has developed so far. Rafaella adds that the intensive language courses were not available right away, so she decided to proceed with another program that would grant her a specialisation in another field. A career change was a personal plan to start with, as it seemed difficult for her to work in her field without speaking fluent Finnish. Additionally, she mentions that all the job ads she has received so far from the office as recommendations were utterly irrelevant to her background. In general, she expected the unemployment services office to provide more tailored guidance that considered her actual experience and studies.

As Rafaella still perceives herself as a newcomer here, she is still unsure what kind of wisdom she would like to have before arriving here. She would probably want to be psychologically prepared for unemployment as an international and for winter as a combination of things. She points out that everything happens for a reason, and although winter months can be dark, they also provide an opportunity to reflect on who you are, what you value, and what you hope to accomplish.

Lastly, she expresses that Mastering Finland Podcast helped her quite a lot before she came to Finland. It gave her knowledge that she used later on, and she's happy to be part of the team!