Vladimir is a St. Petersburg native who moved to Finland 10 years ago. He completed a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Linguistics in St. Petersburg, and then moved to Jyväskylä to do another Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Economics. He currently calls Helsinki home.
Did you know Finnish before you came to Finland?
Yes, I studied it at the university in St. Petersburg. I chose it because it seemed exotic, not because I thought I would ever live in Finland. Then, when I came here, it still wasn’t easy to understand everything. You think you know Finnish, but then you come here and there are all kinds of local expressions, people, and ways of talking that you’re not familiar with, so it took three more years after I arrived to understand fluently the language.
What line of work are you in?
I am a trading strategist at a bank in Helsinki.
How did you get to where you are today? Was it difficult to find a job?
The most important thing when looking for work is to build a network and I built mine through summer jobs. It is the easiest way to enter a company. The professional community is quite small here, so it is essential to have a good reputation. In Russia, if you lose a job in a bad way, you move to another big city with a clean slate, but here, it’s different.
Has knowing Russian helped you with your career?
Merely knowing the language isn’t as much of an asset as knowing about the Russian customs and culture. It is an additional asset, apart from the necessary professional qualifications.
Did you experience culture shock when you arrived to Finland?
Yes, a few. The first one I remember are the long taxi lines on weekends! Apart from that, I found it strange that Finns change extremely much when they drink. Russians do silly things when drunk, but Finns alter so much; they talk and laugh much more.
Why did you decide to stay in Finland?
I started my career here, and built my professional network. In 2008, during the European crisis when there weren’t good opportunities anywhere else I just stayed.
Do you have any concerns about Finland?
They are mostly professional. I am concerned that the Finnish society is ageing, there aren’t as many people working to sustain the social state in the future. I expect some problems in the next 10 years, especially since the boom that happened after the bank crisis is over now. My other concern is the change in values. If you do not invest in a proper education, it is hard to find a well-paid job, and many people who have never experienced hardship – mostly due to the benefits of the social state – aren’t willing to work for minimum wage because they get paid the same amount in social benefits if they stay home. Although I believe that education and health care should remain free for everyone, something needs to change.
What do you like about living here?
The everyday life is easy. Public transport works, there are plenty of places where I can do sports, and the urban life is great. For working routine, a city this size is better than say, Moscow, Berlin, or Milan. I’ve travelled a lot, so I know that, when things are good, it is easy to take them for granted. It is difficult to start a career from zero in a new place, and stressful to work in mega cities, and I am happy where I am now, so I wouldn’t change anything.
What is your favourite word in Finnish?
I like the word ehtoo (evening). As it sounds poetic and somehow ancient I see magic in it. I like very much Finnish poetry and such words belong there.