Temporary Lives Photo

Temporary Lives Photo
Photographer: Jaana Tihtonen


Working abroad

Today it is not uncommon to meet a foreigner at your work place in Finland. How many persons are currently working abroad in the whole world is a number one can only guess. Some work full time, others part time. The reasons “why” can be as simple as looking for a new experience, exploring different cities and cultures, or because it is required in your field of work.

Temporary Lives tells the story of such people. People who leave their home country and go abroad for their work or studies. As a consequence, families are scattered around the globe.
Photo by Dima Viunnyk / Flickr

According to Ministry of Employment and the Economy, in 2011 the share of foreign job-seekers in Finland was 8 %. Of them 52.7 % were women and 47.3 % men. The majority of the foreign job-seekers were aged between 25 and 39. In 2011, the majority of all foreign jobseekers, an average of 17,200, were registered in the Uusimaa region by the Employment and Economic Development Office.

I interviewed four persons of foreign nationality who currently work part time or full time in Finland about their feelings, experiences, and what made them want to work abroad. Two of them wished to remain anonymous, but let me to reveal their home country and where in Finland they have, or are currently working.

Reasons why
Why do people choose to work abroad is simple. Either it’s a long time dream, or a requirement coming from the company for which the person is working for. Difference is that when it is work related, basic things e.g. work permits and accommodation are easily fixed. When asked about the reasons that brought the interviewees to Finland, there was not much difference in the answers.
Was it your own decision, or was it work related? 
- It was my own decision to start my work here, and also it’s related to work. Vimalraj Arumugam, India / Espoo.  
- While I was working in Riga, I got a really good job offer. It was my own work-related decision. lexandra, Latvia / Helsinki.  
- I came abroad for pursuing higher studies and also got an opportunity to work abroad. I decided to work because it was a good move career-wise. It was my own decision. Anonymous, Nepal / Turku 
- I am working here just to have some money while studying. First priority is studying, then the job. Anonymous, Nepal / Helsinki

How long have you worked and/or plan to work abroad? 
- Last 2,5 years and for the next couple of years. Vimalraj Arumugam, India / Espoo 
- I have been working in Finland for 3,5 years. Alexandra, Latvia / Helsinki 
- 4 years. Anonymous, Nepal / Turku 
- I have been working part time while studying at the same time. Let’s see, how long I stay here entirely depends on how things go in the future. Anonymous, Nepal / Helsinki

After working abroad for a longer time, some get comfortable in their new home, and have thoughts of staying for a longer time, or bringing their family with them. Some might even fall in love.
Do you think about maybe staying abroad for a bit longer? 
- For some time, yes! Vimalraj Arumuga, India / Espoo 
- I like to say: “You never know!” My first priority is an interesting work, so wherever I will get it, there I will live. Alexandra, Latvia / Helsinki 
- Yes but I didn’t think of staying forever so I will return home. Anonymous, Nepal / Turku 
- Let’s see what happens in the future. I got a girlfriend here now, so we'll have to see what the future has in store for us. Anonymous, Nepali, Helsinki

The good and the bad

Entering a new country is an eye opening, yet frightening experience. Work permits, visas, health insurances, accommodations, language barriers... So many things that need to be checked and fixed before even thinking about buying the airplane tickets! Leaving friends and families behind is the hardest part for many. Some see it as an opportunity to learn, the best way to open your eyes to new cultures and people, learning new languages and being able to proudly say: ”I’ve done it”.

What is the best thing about working abroad? 
- If I had not come here, then I really would have missed experiencing a different kind of life on the other side of the world! Vimalraj Arumuga, India / Espoo 
- New people, new culture. I love to explore this world and working abroad make this dream come true. Alexandra, Latvia / Helsinki 
- One can learn about new cultures, visit new places and learn many new things professionally as well as personally. Anonymous, Nepal / Turku 
- I believe it does pay more, than what I could have earned in my home country. Anonymous, Nepal / Helsinki
What is the hardest thing about working in another country? 
- Hmm, we don’t have a similar working culture - and in India, most of my friends are from my office. Here it’s different. Vimalraj Arumugam, India / Espoo 
- I'm missing a family. You cannot just drive from office to visit you parents. Some friends stayed in Latvia and I miss them too. Alexandra, Latvia / Helsinki 
- The hardest thing about working in another country is that there is no one to take care of you, especially when you are sick. And you feel lonely many times. Anonymous, Nepal / Turku 
- Language and culture are hardest, but you will start adopting. But of course sometimes you miss your own culture, atmosphere of working, and sometimes when you face language barrier it makes you sad. But then again facing challenges makes you stronger and make you smarter to deal with any problems in the future. Anonymous, Nepal / Helsinki

The good and the bad times is all part of it. Everyone has them. Thanks to today’s technology at hand, Skype and Facebook make it possible to keep contact with home!
What were the reactions of your family when you decided to go abroad? 
- Actually my dad was very happy as I’m the first person among my relatives to travel abroad, but my mom had some hard feelings because I was moving away. But it did not take much time for me to convince her as I was already away from our home and doing my studies in hostel for the last 10 years. Vimalraj Arumuga,. India / Espoo 
- It was a big surprise for all my family members and friends as I never lived abroad before. However, everyone supported me a lot and after few days of thinking I decided to try my luck and signed the contract. Alexandra, Latvia / Helsinki 
- They were supportive and positive. Anonymous, Nepal / Turku 
- They were happy and sad in the same time, I guess. They were happy because I would go to Europe and study and become a great person, achieve dreams, but they were sad because they would miss me since I would be gone very far from them. Maybe they were also afraid of how and what kind of trouble I would face in the start. Anonymous, Nepal / Helsinki

Photo by Paul J. Everett / Flickr

What do you miss the most from home? 
- Mom and food. Evening chats with friends and a lot to add on! Vimalraj Arumugam, India / Espoo 
- Family and mom’s food, and the cat. Alexandra, Latvia / Helsinki 
-Love, care and togetherness of family. Anonymous, Nepal / Turku 
- I miss Sun and my mother, family and friends. And a lot of festivals too. Anonymous, Nepal / Helsinki

If you could have something from home with you right now, what would it be? 
- My mom and my belongings from home. Vimalraj Arumugam, India / Espoo 
- I don’t need any things as I have everything already here but I would like to have my family closer. Alexandra, Latvia / Helsinki 
- More sunshine and my family. Anonymous, Nepal / Helsinki

Abroad you may have better chances of getting work in the subject that you majored in academically, if there isn’t enough job offers in your home country. Some are temped for the money. Working abroad also enables some to connect with people within their field of work and help boost their career.
Why did you want/decide to work abroad? 
- It’s always a dream for any guy in India to have a career in foreign country and here I am! (Laughing) Vimalraj Arumugam, India / Espoo 
- While I was working in Riga I got a really good job offer from Siemens IT Solutions and Services. Alexandra, Latvia / Helsinki 
- It was my own decision. Anonymous, Nepal / Turku 
- I went for it so that I can achieve my future dreams having a degree from a European University. It will make it easier to get a job in Asian culture, it think. It’s also about prestige, what society would talk about you, making your parents proud of what you did. Anonymous, Nepal / Helsinki

What are the benefits of working abroad? 
-First thing, money – YES! But very soon I realized that it’s not only money, but also the possibility to get to know the people here and their ways. I’m still observing! Vimalraj Arumuga, India / Espoo 
- The main benefit is a chance to start your life from the scratch. It is almost like living second life – new people, new way of living, new language. It makes your vision broader and it develops your personal flexibility. Also, now I am not afraid of moving to another country if needed. Alexandra, Latvia / Helsinki 
- There are many benefits: It broadens your horizon, provides opportunity to work in a multicultural and international environment, you can learn lots of new things, etc. Anonymous, Nepal / Turku

Photo by Alinasta / Flickr

How will you benefit from this work experience in the future? 
- Moral values have been improved a lot here, so I will definitely consider that for lifetime! Vimalraj Arumugam, India / Espoo 
- As I mentioned before it is a great experience if you work abroad. I became more flexible, met new people, learnt new language and developed a lot as a person. Alexandra, Latvia / Helsinki 
- It is an unique experience. Working abroad broadened my horizon and gave me more confidence and was good for my career. Anonymous, Nepal / Turku 
- Finland is known as one of the best countries in the world so it should give you lots plus point for your future work. Anonymous, Nepal / Helsinki

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to work abroad? 
-Yeah, sometimes, we might have to go through hard phase, but just keep it cool as there are lot of positive points around! Vimalraj Arumugam, India / Espoo 
- Spend some time on your new home country's investigation. Try to find friends or your community people in advance. Be active when you move to another country. More time and efforts you will spend right after reallocation, easier life will be later. Trust me you will have plenty of time to enjoy after you settled down. Have a positive thinking – everything will be always good! Alexandra, Latvia / Helsinki 
- Be prepared emotionally as well as professionally. If you can’t handle it well, it’s hard but if you can, it is really wonderful. Anonymous, Nepali, Turku 
- Having a proper view of what and how you are going to study/work is very necessary. Be prepared and don’t keep too high expectation beforehand. Anonymous, Nepali, Helsinki

Pia Grundström 
Laura Kunnas

Ministry of Employment and the Economy 

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