After graduating with a B.A. in the United States, Greta Mohney came to Finland to work as a childcare worker while figuring out what she wants in her life.
What do you do here in Finland?
I work as a lastenhoitaja at a preschool in Munkkivuori. That’s a child care worker. There’s a hundred and twenty kids. We help the kids to do what they are supposed to be doing and prepare them for school.
When and how did you end up here?
February of this year. I wanted a change of scenery. I thought, what if I go to Finland and do the same job [as back home]? This is a good fit for me while I try to figure out what to do with my life. My aunt said that I can get a temporary job as a lastenhoitaja easily.
My mom is Finnish and I have Finnish family here. I also want to go back to school to get my master’s, and so I thought it would be good to try and see what it would be like living in Finland – would I want to live in Finland forever?
What do you like about Finland?
This time [here] I’ve been able to spend so much time with my Finnish family which I love. I go to my aunt’s house, who lives in Helsinki, once a week for dinner. I just love getting to know her so well. The same with other relatives of my Finnish family.
What attracts you to the Finnish culture?
The Finnish culture is a little hard to get used to. I’m very outgoing and Finnish people are very introverted. When I showed up at my job, I was very reserved for myself. I knew that if I came out like, ‘Hi! I’m Greta! I’m so excited to work here!’ They’d go, ‘holy buckets. What are we going to do with this girl?’
What culture shocks did you experience when in Finland?
It is quite hard to meet people. In the US, you might randomly start talking to a stranger if they are reading a book you like. In Finland, you never talk to a stranger, no matter what. Maybe ‘excuse me’ if you get by them on the bus. That’s the only acceptable communication. [laughs]
Have you been able to settle and integrate into Finnish society?
Yes, I feel like any of the other workers. I don’t really have any troubles. My Finnish isn’t perfect but we laugh about the little mistakes I make, and they aren’t anything big. I feel like I’ve found a little niche for myself.
What are your worries?
That I can’t find a permanent job as a lastenhoitaja. Originally, the maternity leave [for which I am a replacement] was only supposed to be until October. Now the mom says that she’s going to be at least until January. It’s a scary thought to think that this is only temporary.
What are your future wishes for your life here?
If I were to live here, I’d go back to school, to get a permanent job.
What is your favorite Finnish word?
Mökki. When we came in the summers we’d always spend about a month at my papa’s mökki. That’s my favorite place even now. I’m like, ‘Can I just live here?’ I have considered just dropping everything and with a little bit of cash going and living in the Finnish forest at my papa’s mökki.