Episode 85

Follow your heart to Finland with Gemma Cros-Baden

In this edition of ‘Mastering Finland’ Matt Bowen interviews Gemma Cros-Baden whose advice chimes with the ethos of the podcast. In Gemma’s own words:

“To have a good level of life, you have to work for it.”

Gemma originally came to Finland from Spain as a student on the Erasmus exchange programme in January 2021 to study in Kuopio — managing to work around the Covid restrictions.  Why Kuopio? As she explains to Matt at the beginning of the podcast, she has a drive for exploring different situations and going beyond her comfort zone.

During her time in Kuopio not only did she fall in love with the country and culture of Finland, and not just with the people of Finland — but with one particular Finnish person.  So much so that she did not want to leave.  After completing her six-month university placement in Kuopio, Gemma was told that she would have to leave Finland, go back to Spain and complete her studies.

Whilst working hard to finish her studies, Gemma also worked hard in a part-time job in her home country and could easily have settled back into her comfort zone.  However, she wanted to be in Finland and she knew that she would have to work for it.  She was applying for jobs in Finland, registering on different sites to help her build her life in Finland and keeping in touch with Finnish government agencies like Migri about what she might need to do to get back here.

Almost as soon as Gemma’s studies were over, she said goodbye to her family in Spain and got on the plane to follow her heart.  At that point, she had not yet found a job in Finland. But even before she had had time to properly unpack her bags, she was at work. A couple of weeks is all it took her! Her advice to whoever wants to live and work in Finland is to come here and find out if it works out for them. The Mastering Finland Podcast has a wealth of tips, advice and lived experiences that can help listeners do just this.

Finnish companies are interested in people who want to work and who can prove that they are interested in living in Finland.  Most job adverts have a requirement to speak the Finnish language — and this knowledge obviously helps to break through the Finnish market. However, Gemma has found that even limited Finnish language skills are enough in many workplaces and in social settings a little Finnish can go a long way.

As the interview moves on, Matt and Gemma explore some of the differences between written and spoken Finnish, regional dialects, the differences between Sami and Finnish, Spanish and Catalan. Mentioning here just one of the insights: learning the spoken Finnish language is often easier and more pragmatic than the textbook written form!

What are Gemma’s tips for the Mastering Finland community? Her ideas are inspired by the differences between Mediterranean culture and day-to-day Finnish life. Listen in to find out what she said.