Bernardo Clementino is originally from Brazil.
What do you do here in Finland?
I studied strategy in Aalto University. Now I work in a very cool company called Reddal as a business developer.
When and how did you end up here?
I came to Finland in 2010 because of my girlfriend, who is Finnish. I had just graduated as an industrial engineer at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, while she was still studying here; so I was the detached one that could move around.
I realised that the best way for me to get a job and make a life in this country was by creating fast connections to the society and employers. That’s why I applied to Aalto University, even though I already had a degree. In the end I was correct- because of the networking opportunity Aalto offers, I got my current job, and I got to know people with many different backgrounds, made friends, etc.
What do you like about Finland?
I like that things work. The buses run on time, I love that! People are honest. The government and the way society runs is extremely inclusive and considerate to people. Perhaps the Finns do not even notice it, but often when I compare it to my home country, Brazil, I notice how important it is to know how your tax money is being used and what is the true value of having trust and faith that people are doing their best at their jobs (especially the government –MPs in Finland are way less lazy than Brazilian ones!).
What attracts you about the Finnish culture?
A fascinating, and perhaps not that common, aspect I appreciate in Finnish people is their curiosity. As soon as they let loose of the shyness (for instance, after a couple of beers) even strangers come to me to ask ‘Where are you from?’ Provocatively, I often answer ‘I live right around the corner, what about you?’
They are so interested, they even sometimes trespass the barrier of intimacy because they simply want to know more- perhaps trying to understand what a foreigner would EVER do in Finland: ‘Where do you work?’, ‘Why are you in Finland?’ amongst other personal questions. I guess it’s because Finns are still not that used to foreigners around them. Finland still holds a culture that has been kept very far from ‘external influences’.
What culture shocks did you experience when coming to Finland?
University was my first real contact with the Finnish people. I guess that the largest clash would come from my not-so-common proactive behaviour during classes. As a Brazilian, I am often the guy that asks questions or the only one that actually interacts with the teacher.
Have you been able to settle and integrate into Finnish society?
This is a very philosophical question. I have done a lot of things to make me more integrated into Finnish society, but I am not sure if I will ever blend in completely. For instance, I have taken many Finnish courses, and I do speak ok Finnish. Even though it has become independent almost a hundred years later than Brazil, Finland has many traditions and subcultures, which I appreciate and would like to understand more.
When studying in Aalto, I’ve been active in the student organisations and even created a student club, the Aalto Management Consulting Association (AMCA) together with friends from my programme. It was quite an experience because I had to talk to a lot of students and they reacted in really different ways to new ideas. On top of that, I also joined the academic choir of the School of Business, Kauppakorkeakoulu Ylioppilaskunnan Laulajat (KYL), which gives me a pretty interesting view of a lot of traditional (and not-so-traditional) Finnish songs, from Sibelius to Cheek.
What were/are your worries?
Currently I’m extremely worried about Russia. I’m worried about the ‘expansionist’ policy that Putin has and the economic sanctions the EU and consequently Finland are applying to Russia. I’m really pessimistic. Finland is facing a never-ending economic crisis and recent news of unemployment growth does not bring hope. It is hard to know how much of all this news is factually-based and how much comes due to Finnish cultural pessimism.
What are your future wishes for your life here?
You mean, if Russia doesn’t invade Finland and I don’t have to flee very fast? Well, the company I’m working for is growing pretty quickly and I’m getting married in the near future, so things seem to be good just by keeping them the way they are. I would wish Finland to become more and more international as it integrates more with the rest of the World. The government has already noticed the importance of immigrants to the Finnish economy and Vero and Kela are already providing ok services in English. The private side, though, is taking much longer to adapt.
What is your favorite Finnish word?
Hollola, it’s a city close to Lahti. If you’re by Hollola, you’re Hollolalla. Pöydällä is definitely my second top one: the hardest easy-word to pronounce in any other language.