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How immigrant-friendly is Finland?

June 12, 2008

If we look at the unemployment figures (20% jobless among foreigners) and the motives of non-Finns that moved to this country according to their residence permit applications, we are still faraway from being an immigrant-friendly country.

According to the Finnish Immigration Service, last year 6,196 (32%) residence permit applications were for employment followed for studies 3,980 (20%) and other reasons such as specialists, researchers, athletes (16%). Most of the residence applications were for studying and family ties based on marriage and children (5,464/23%).

Add both of the latter groups and it reaches 43%!

The total number of foreigners that applied for residence permits in 2007 stood at 19,216, up 33.3% compared with 14,420 in the previous year. Of the above-mentioned amount, the Finnish Immigration Service rejected 2,015 applications versus 1,633, respectively.

Even though the Finnish foreign population has been growing since the mid-1990s, when it became a EU member, Finland is not a paradise for foreigners who are seeking employment. Even so, matters can change. At the present rate, however, things are changing very slowly.

51 Comments leave one →
  1. jeanett666 permalink
    June 12, 2008 8:59 am

    to much numbers for me to follow, but I think I got the point😉
    as far as I know it’s very difficult to get jobs and such in finland if you don’t speak Finnish or Swedish. even if you do so it’s still way easy to know that u are not from around there and u will be a bit as a outsider.. but I still love the place =)

  2. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    June 14, 2008 2:47 pm

    The Finnish economy… if not totally crap isn’t booming either. There is no “demand” for people off the street. Hiring someone is expensive – if you care to look into the social costs (or ask some enterpreneur what would it cost for him to employ someone and pay him X amount of wages) and how difficult the process is… Then you might not wonder why. Ironically, in many companies there would be a possibility and even a need to hire an extra hand, but all the bosses and other staff are too overworked to have the time to start the hiring process let alone teach the new staffmember. And a lot of companies in Finland are small ones.

  3. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    June 14, 2008 2:52 pm

    So lets say if you have a job (you’re headhunted for a job) – Finland is very friendly. If you just pop up and start looking, then its far more tough. You need to know the process, who hires and where, and despite laments, the http://www.mol.fi search engine works only in Finnish. Might give a hint of the expected language requirements. But no, theres not many if any “help wanted” ads, and customer service jobs have the language requirements unlike in some other countries. I guess this is from the days when servants and masters spoke a different language, so it would seem wrong having a “slave” working in an egalitarian society.

  4. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    June 15, 2008 5:55 pm

    And a question back – for the sake of comparison – how “immigrant friendly” is Spain?
    http://www.elpais.com/articulo/espana/Gobierno/ofrecera/incentivos/repatriar/millon/inmigrantes/elpepuesp/20080615elpepinac_1/Tes

  5. Enrique permalink
    June 15, 2008 6:25 pm

    You are absolutely right, DeTant. Remember, I am not separating Finland as the only country with the problem. However, since I have ties to the country, I don’t mind debating about this issue in Finland. It is a terrible thing in Spain, no? First they bring them to the country and when nobody needs them, they want to send them back. This plan will not be successful.
    Enrique

  6. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    June 16, 2008 7:23 am

    Well my point exactly, you agree that people are not a commodity from a supermarket? So like in Finland we have this big wail of “we need workers”. When there is – as you say – the 20% unemployment rate among foreigners already in the country. So there is no “need for workers”, there is a “need of cheap exploitable workforce” that can be “sent back” when they’re not needed. It isn’t any new trend to import a group of people as an underclass of exploitable workforce. Back in the day they had a word for it – slavery.

    So yes, call me anti-immigrant then. I tell people not to move to Finland unless they know what they will be facing and what they will need to do to adapt… and become a “worker”. Because if they just pop up then we will soon have a mass of people someone wants to put in cattle trains and send East. So its like calling a person a cat-hater when they tell the kids they can’t have a cat unless they promise to take care of it and get it clawed and spayed… whereas the next door theres a cat lady with 50 wild cats the house reeking of urine.

    “I am not separating Finland as the only country with the problem.”

    Ah, Finland has no problems – that is just the whining of those bitter losers who lack the sisu to live in Finland – Finland has plenty of challenges and opportunities that can be tackled by people wishing to build a winning Finnish society. 😉

  7. June 17, 2008 3:33 pm

    The thing is that the system is not ready for us. Since Finns used to leave the country until not so long ago, the whole society doesn’t know what to do with us, and since they don’t know much about who we are/what we do, they’re mostly afraid of us.

    Just check what kind of articles you find when looking for “maahanmuuttaja” or “siirtolainen” in Helsingin Sanomat (not your usual rag) and you get a good feel for what the attitude is.

  8. Enrique permalink
    June 17, 2008 6:57 pm

    Hola Chiva, muchas gracias por tus comentarios. I agree with you. Even though Finland has had a lot of people leave emigrate out of the country, Finns have not experienced what it is like for foreigners to live here. Even though, there are over 1 million Finns and their descendants that live abroad, it is strange that some Finns may feel so threatened by foreigners. However, there are many good Finns who think differently.

  9. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    June 19, 2008 7:17 pm

    Well it is simple logic really.

    – Why did people emigrate?
    = Finland was a shit country. (politically, economically)
    – Why do people emigrate here?
    = Theirs is a shit country. (politically, economically)

    So, the question is, if someone is coming from a shit country, that must be shittier than ours as we know we are a shit country, then why should we listen to this foreigner? What example can they give? How to make Finland into a shittier country?

    And if someone is coming from a not-so-shit country, well then they must be crazy, and do you take advice from crazy people?

    So we here choose what we like off other cultures – but we’re not quite sure about the motives of these people coming here… Finnish logic.😉

  10. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    June 19, 2008 7:42 pm

    And “finding work” there apparently isn’t as much problem with the language as people think.
    http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Mobile+home+entourage+of+British+and+Irish+labourers+cause+disturbances+in+southern+city+of+J%C3%A4rvenp%C3%A4%C3%A4/1135237309122

    ”People should think twice whether it is such a good idea to hire foreign travellers to do odd jobs for them”, instructs Chief Inspector Pekka Heikkinen of the Central Uusimaa Police.

    Not that these guys wouldn’t do good work but it seems you need to be a pikey to be able to do work without paying taxes and VAT, whereas if a Finnish resident tried the same they’d be in jail. So Finland is very immigrant-friendly indeed. Only country you can come and the law won’t jump on you as the EU halo blinds them.

  11. aricatch permalink
    June 30, 2008 9:22 am

    DeTant I find a air of generalization in your comments. You think as if all immigrants are stealing and robbing the locals. I completely agree with you on the issue of punishing those who commit crimes be it a local or a foreigner. But, there are also a good number of foreigners who work hard, pay taxes, follow all the rules and at the end of the day is cursed for something he/she is not involved with.

    By the way, I also belong to union and don’t whine on the taxes I pay and the weather and the people. I used to pay, I guess a bit more taxes in my home country which belongs to your so called “Shittier” countries. And where to secure a good market Finnish companies are ready to do anything.

    It is how you see something glass is half filled or half empty.

  12. Enrique permalink
    June 30, 2008 11:19 am

    In first place, I think we should stop this distinction between “Finns” and “foreigners.” Both groups are PERSONS who live in Finland, work, pay taxes and are subject to the laws of the land. Scientifically it is impossible to generalize about the culture or behavior of a group (please check Margaret Mead “national character studies”). We call such things stereotypes and in the worst case racism. Why do we generalize about other groups? To exclude and rob them of their opportunities. The problem is not in a person’s skin color, creed but in the education and how people have been brought up. How can we trust people when we are taught from the early days of school that OUR country, OUR culture is the best?

  13. aricatch permalink
    June 30, 2008 1:00 pm

    Enrique, what you suggest is a noble idea. But, we live in world which is filled with prejudices. It would be very naive to think the concept Finns and Foreigners won’t exist. It will remain forever. This kind of gap exists in most countries at some level.

    The natives who have dealt with me in life know what sort of person I am but, I cannot expect that nice behaviour from a person walking down the street. He/She thinks I am living on benefits (and I don’t blame them for that). Then, probably someone who knows about me whispers what I do for a living (If a foreigner lives in a place for long people recognize the person. Thats, normal in Finland).

    Question is how do we bridge this gap?

    I have always admired the law abiding nature people of the Finland. So why not introduce a point system on socio-economic-cultural integration fro immigrants. I know you might bring the Australian point system into this discussion. But, we have to do something like a card like the green card in US.
    If someone violates the rules more than twice take away his/her card and send him/her back to their home.

    Given the statistics presented by the goverment. This huge number of immigrants which are gonna come to Finland will be impossible to manage unless, there is some form of managed induction of people.

  14. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    July 2, 2008 2:23 am

    Yes, but the idea doesn’t apply to EU immigrants. I have a few Romanian friends who are fuming over the nice “image” they get from their ethnic minority countrymen.

  15. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    July 2, 2008 2:25 am

    “You think as if all immigrants are stealing and robbing the locals. ”

    Well I need to give an opposing viewpoint to Enrique who thinks all the immigrants are hardworking and honest so we can have some sort of balance.

  16. aricatch permalink
    July 2, 2008 7:08 am

    That’s funny DeTant, just for the sake of opposing Enrique you cannot label every immigrant as criminals. Anyways, everyone has a right to free speech.

  17. Mickey Mouse permalink
    July 20, 2008 4:02 pm

    Have been in Finland for 2 years. Almost impossible to get a job here. Doesnt matter if you have a degree of if you come from a shitty or non-shitty country. If you are not a Finn then you have a problem.

    I moved here because of my girlfriend but we are going to move to another country next year. Kind of fed up here.

  18. Enrique permalink
    July 21, 2008 8:08 am

    Hi MM, thanks for dropping by. Unemployment figures among foreigners supports what you say. Unemployment in Finland among foreigners is one of the highest in the EU, standing at about 20%. IN some groups like Africans 50%, while in the lowest were the Chinese, with about 8%.
    Why do you think you cannot get employment in Finland?

  19. Tiwaz permalink
    August 21, 2008 5:45 am

    “Hi MM, thanks for dropping by. Unemployment figures among foreigners supports what you say. Unemployment in Finland among foreigners is one of the highest in the EU, standing at about 20%. IN some groups like Africans 50%, while in the lowest were the Chinese, with about 8%.
    Why do you think you cannot get employment in Finland?”

    Answers are simple.

    He does not speak the language.
    Who the hell would hire a guy who can’t communicate with his collagues and clients in their preferred language? Some big corporations and few IT firms have english as work language. But even there it slips to finnish every time they get away from foreigners.

    Finns speak Finnish. Learn to accept it and LEARN THE LANGUAGE.

    You do not behave properly. You behave in way that makes you untrustworthy in Finnish society. Most likely you are also rude.

    This is not your native country, we have our own code of conduct. It is ONLY proper code of conduct here. Again, learn it or suffer. If you do not learn and suffer, stop whining.

    And third, your certificates might not be valid in Finland. Masters Degree in Earscratching from Backwoods University does not tell anything to potential employer.
    It could mean you are the hot stuff, or you might have received your certificate from one of those infamous universities which mail them to you in exchange for 20 bucks.

    So get your ass to Finnish school system and have your papers turned into Finnish versions. Those are ones your employers will know and are familiar with.

    Biggest problem for unemployment is that immigrants expect Finland to appease them. Mainly due to immigrants like Enrique here who claims that Finns have to accept alien way of life in Finland. This is not going to be accepted by Finns. We have our own country, at last. And you can be damn sure we will not give it up. Here it is OUR way or highway.

    So stop bitching about unemployment and start looking at yourself, asking how you can integrate to society in Finnish terms and thus become possible to employ.

    I was shopping the other day with my SO. Bought a gift to her friend who is moving here. Guy serving us was apparently immigrant based on his looks. Guess why he had job? He spoke the language! He understood and adapted to cultural norms!

  20. Enrique permalink
    August 21, 2008 6:57 am

    I think it is more complex than that. In the United States and elsewhere you have immigrants who cannot speak the language and they do menial jobs (cleaning, janitorial, taxi drivers etc.). I’m not defending that people should not learn the local language. The high unemployment is a reflection of the labor market in Finland. For example, to do cleaning work it appears you must hold a university degree. Some people do not learn the language because they may not have such skills. In Argentina, where I did fieldwork on a Finnish colony, there were first generation Finns that had never learned to speak Spanish properly. They had to use their children as interpreters. Were they being rude? I don’t think so. Some people lack such skills and it is then a real handicap if they move to another country.
    When you speak of immigrants, you sound like they are all a bunch of lowlifes who expect everything on easy street. If you look more closely, immigrants have it tougher, work harder and are true survivors. You cannot be weak and be an immigrant. You have to be made of pretty tough stuff to withstand things such as discrimination.

  21. Tiwaz permalink
    August 21, 2008 7:54 am

    This is NOT USA, nor Argentina. This is FINLAND. I would have presumed that you would have understood that by now.

    We do not do stuff like americans do. We do stuff like we do.

    And what good is taxi driver who can’t speak the language? Here we have certain requirements for taxi drivers. What good is cleaner who can’t figure out what they are expected to do?

    You make it sound like immigrants are nobles who should be appeased.

    I am telling you that immigrants have to play the game with same rules as Finns do. You guys are not special and are not entitled to any special benefits.

    Finn who does not speak Finnish or cannot pass taxi driver exam will not be hired.
    Neither will immigrant.

    Finn who has no proper education for his duties is not going to be hired. Neither will immigrant.

    Immigrants have to learn to play by the FINNISH rules in Finland. This is not Argentina. This is not USA. This is not Whateveristan.

    Everything here, goes Finnish way. You can refuse to accept that, but don’t expect to succeed here that way.

    If immigrants are such hardy survivors and workers, perhaps they should put their survival skills and hard work into learning language, culture and integrate.

    Unintegrating immigrants who have no special skills to save their bacon are unemployed. If you integrate or have niche skills, you will be employed in many cases.

  22. Enrique permalink
    August 21, 2008 8:11 am

    Yes, right, Finland belongs to the international community has signed a number of important international agreements like the Declaration of Human Rights through the UN and EU. Finland is NO longer an island with its own rules. It has, like immigrants and non-immigrants, laws that protect them as well as obligations. What is the way that Finland does that is so different from the rest? Finland is an EU country, remember. The days of Eila Kännö are long gone.
    I never said that anyone should be appeased. Do you have any immigrants in your family that left for other parts of the world? Ask them what it has been like. Maybe you would see matters differently.
    Yes, that is the point. The same rules that apply to Finns should apply to immigrants. I agree totally with you.
    Everything in Finland goes the EU-Finnish way. Believe me, immigrants do just that: they learn to survive. I agree: I want people to be successful in what they do irrespective of where they are from. Everyone benefits from such a situation: society and the person.

  23. Tiwaz permalink
    August 21, 2008 8:46 am

    But still you complain that immigrants do not prosper! And demand jobs to be offered to them!

    Double faced behavior I would say.

    If immigrants can integrate themselves to society, they are treated equally. If they fail, they are treated like foreigners. And there is no law thankfully that requires employers to employ people just because they are foreigners.

    You immigrants have to make yourself employable.

    Nobody has their human rights violated if they are not hired to job they cannot perform. Or because they fail to present certificates which Finnish employers are familiar with.

    Those are just stupidity of immigrants, expecting to have things work as they would at home.

    But instead of accepting that immigrants are responsible for their plight, they go scream of racism or “human rights”.

    There is no human right of being employed.

    And indeed Finland is different from other countries. You would understand that if you bothered to learn Finnish culture and adapt to it. Instead of trying to force Finns to adapt to you.

    Things take place certain way here. Some stuff works here but not elsewhere and vice versa.

    Here, you have to present right papers, in right place and in right order.
    Here, you have to present YOURSELF in right way to be employed.

    Those are both things that you will learn to do if you get yourself into Finnish culture. It is not something that can be explained easily or thoroughly in anything resembling short text. It is insane amount of barely (if at all) acknowledged rules, principles and ways. Huge amount extremely minute when put into perspective of whole. But they are there, they form Finnish cultural norms.

    We are Finns, we evaluate and see you through Finnish cultural norms. Learn to live with that. You will not be given different set of norms. That would not be equal. Everyone is seen equally, through Finnish norms.

    You can either fight against this, and fail. Or you can start work on understanding and behaving according to those norms.

    If you fail, do not be surprised that you find yourself alone and feel outcast. Because that is how we Finns treat those who fail to live up to the requirements of society.

    Same fate waits those Finns who fail to live up to our own norms. Either they straighten out and get back to order, or they become those outcasts who hang together in small groups of individuals with similar situation.

    Prime example are drunkards. No respectable Finnish group accepts such people as it’s members. Thus they form their own circle of equals to avoid being totally alone.

    It can be permanent and only social circle for those who are total alcoholics, or group you drink with as opposed to people you socialize with when you are sober. In latter case these two groups often overlap at least partially though, people you drink with forming some part of your network when you are sober.

  24. Linda permalink
    August 29, 2008 8:55 am

    Tiwaz:

    a) Well, it is indeed true that Finland is neither Argentina nor the USA. However, it is part of the international community and has singed various international treaties for the purpose of being accepted as part of the Global family.

    B) Indeed you do stuff like Finns do…no one asked you to change your culture norm and tradition. But if racism and bigotry is part and parcel of your culture and tradition and finding lame excuses to isolate, exclude and belittle people who differ in their thinking and physical appearance is part of your tradition it is unacceptable.

    c) for your information, not all foreigners are criminals, uneducated, nor do they lack social manners. You find highly educated, with equally comparable skills with Finns – certainly they know how to present the right papers, in right place and in right order.

    d) Also be informed that a taxi driver in not a physocologist, it would be enough if he speaks little finnish – it is not a common practice to chat with the taxi driver anyway. In my opinion the prerequisite to get the job should be getting the permit, meaning passing the exam like all the other taxi drivers, and his ability to take the customer to his preferred destination – thanks to technology we also have GPS now a days.

    By the way I have held meetings with Finnish executives in English although their English language skill is far from being good – as long as you understand eachother gramatical mistakes should not be an impediment unless you are a Suomen kielen opettaja.

    e) No one is saying that immigrants are nobles that should be appeased. What is said is, that they have to be given equal opportunities, be enabled to contribute to society and not be seen as inferior beings. Moreover, we want the finnish society to admit that racism exists in this country and take measures to address it.

    f) The majority of immigrants abide by the rule and regulation of the country the reside. I would also like to add, that other countries have rules and regulation too and the majority of the people are law abiding citizens.

    g) In order to integrate; Finns have to start being open to people of all races or ethnic groups without restriction; foreigners have to be admitted to equal membership in society. It is my understanding that the whole puropse of this forum is to find ways to facilitate the integration of foriengners, clarify misunderstandings and have a constructive debate.

  25. Enrique permalink
    August 29, 2008 9:12 am

    Tiwaz and all, I could not have said it better than Linda did. The problem is that you think foreigners are going “to invade” Finland and this will lead to a “race war.” That is a bunch of hogwash. The only people who speak that way are: 1) living under despotic regimes; and 2) Neo-Nazi groups in the US, for example. They are talking constantly about the coming “race war.”
    Foreigners should not expect anything less than to be treated as equals, be able to compete for jobs without discrimination, and be given the opportunity to take part in Finnish society. Discrimination won’t do it.

  26. Tiwaz permalink
    September 4, 2008 5:58 am

    “a) Well, it is indeed true that Finland is neither Argentina nor the USA. However, it is part of the international community and has singed various international treaties for the purpose of being accepted as part of the Global family.”

    But nothing in there says we should accept immigrants without demanding them to integrate and obey laws and traditions of our society. If they move here, they do so out of free will and must accept that Finnish society plays on Finnish rules.


    B) Indeed you do stuff like Finns do…no one asked you to change your culture norm and tradition. But if racism and bigotry is part and parcel of your culture and tradition and finding lame excuses to isolate, exclude and belittle people who differ in their thinking and physical appearance is part of your tradition it is unacceptable.”

    What have I said about physical appearance? Nothing!

    All I expect from immigrant is that they do two things. Learn Finnish and learn to behave like Finns. Is that so much to ask? I do not even expect them to do it overnight! But they have to WORK to do so.


    c) for your information, not all foreigners are criminals, uneducated, nor do they lack social manners. You find highly educated, with equally comparable skills with Finns – certainly they know how to present the right papers, in right place and in right order.”

    And have I said anything against these people? They are good people and are welcome. And they are employed! Because they learned to adapt to this society and play by it’s rules instead of trying to impose their rules on society.

    But Enrique here complains that we are unfair to those who do not integrate, do not learn the language and do not learn to present themselves properly in Finnish cultural way.


    d) Also be informed that a taxi driver in not a physocologist, it would be enough if he speaks little finnish – it is not a common practice to chat with the taxi driver anyway. In my opinion the prerequisite to get the job should be getting the permit, meaning passing the exam like all the other taxi drivers, and his ability to take the customer to his preferred destination – thanks to technology we also have GPS now a days.”

    HELVETINÄKKIÄKESKUSSAIRAALAANNYTONKIIRE

    Or mie haluvaisin männä tuonne Esplanaatille.

    And how does immigrant without language skills understand this?
    Taxi driver has to be able to communicate with client.

    Finns have multiple dialects, including drunken mumbling, and taxi driver is supposed to be able to decipher their wishes from each. That requires good language skills.

    Also, how many immigrants have actually passed taxi driver exam and failed to get their lisence?


    By the way I have held meetings with Finnish executives in English although their English language skill is far from being good – as long as you understand eachother gramatical mistakes should not be an impediment unless you are a Suomen kielen opettaja.”

    And how many non-Finnish executives speaks good Finnish?
    And have you spoken to non-Finnish non-English executives?

    Try dealing with really francophone Frenchman someday.


    e) No one is saying that immigrants are nobles that should be appeased. What is said is, that they have to be given equal opportunities, be enabled to contribute to society and not be seen as inferior beings. Moreover, we want the finnish society to admit that racism exists in this country and take measures to address it.”

    They are given equal opportunity. Problem is, they do not understand how the system works. They think it works like back home, IT DOESN’T!

    Most of the time, though racist exceptions exist, immigrant is not hired because they do not possess all the skills required. That is not racism.


    f) The majority of immigrants abide by the rule and regulation of the country the reside. I would also like to add, that other countries have rules and regulation too and the majority of the people are law abiding citizens.”

    And they have different cultures and different laws which may be in violation with Finnish culture and Finnish law.

    And while majority of immigrants are not participating in criminal activity, disproportionate amount of them do. They commit more crimes than their statistical percentage of population would “permit”.

    If group which represents below 6% of crimes commits anything up to and over 20% of crimes (rape statistics in Helsinki from the top of my head so some error is there) you do not think there is issue with this group?


    g) In order to integrate; Finns have to start being open to people of all races or ethnic groups without restriction; foreigners have to be admitted to equal membership in society. It is my understanding that the whole puropse of this forum is to find ways to facilitate the integration of foriengners, clarify misunderstandings and have a constructive debate.”

    Haven’t you noticed that Finnish culture is not extrovert? Immigrants have to learn to accept that Finns are not going to rush to welcome them with open arms. We tend to be introvert, you have to prove yourself somehow to be taken in. This does not mean insane stunts, but showing that you have characteristics that people consider necessary in their friends.

    Immigrants are admitted to society like Finns are. With time. But immigrants refuse to understand Finnish culture. They want it now, or actually yesterday.

  27. Enrique permalink
    September 4, 2008 11:38 am

    -But nothing in there says we should accept immigrants without demanding them to integrate and obey laws and traditions of our society. If they move here, they do so out of free will and must accept that Finnish society plays on Finnish rules.

    True, but there are no laws that can force them o do so. If there are, please enlighten us. Mutual respect is paramount. If this exists, there is a greater chance the foreigners will integrate better into Finnish society. You cannot ask them to throw away their identity nor their culture. That is illegal and a breach of basic human rights.

    -All I expect from immigrant is that they do two things. Learn Finnish and learn to behave like Finns. Is that so much to ask? I do not even expect them to do it overnight! But they have to WORK to do so.

    Very good suggestions. By behaving like a Finn you mean understanding how Finns interact, right? f so, then I agree.

    – They are given equal opportunity. Problem is, they do not understand how the system works. They think it works like back home, IT DOESN’T!

    What would a Finn say in this situation. We are not communicating! Right information is very important. I don’t think that many foreigners think that the country they live must work like there’s. However, as a European, I’d expect Finland to adhere and have common EU laws and values.

    -Haven’t you noticed that Finnish culture is not extrovert?
    Again you generalize. Is there a scientific study that substantiates your claim that Finns are introverted? There are all types of Finns and communicating in Finnish is different than when speaking in Italian. Silence in some cultures is considered an embarrassing thing because it means that we are not communicating. This is big generalization, however. But if we understand this, and know how each other’s culture works, then differences don’t make that much of a difference. When we compare our culture (ethnocentrism) to other ones, that is when we get pissed off and feel a lot of conflict.

  28. Enrique permalink
    September 4, 2008 11:43 am

    -If group which represents below 6% of crimes commits anything up to and over 20% of crimes (rape statistics in Helsinki from the top of my head so some error is there) you do not think there is issue with this group?

    Good question. What do you think are the reasons? It shows that something is wrong. But remember – individuals are not countries, they are individuals. Just because a foreigner or a Finn commits a crime, we should not jump to the wrong conclusion that ALL people from so and so group are bad.

    Why do you think some immigrants refuse to understand a culture like the Finnish one? Possibly one answer is because they feel that they are not welcome. Lack of cultural understanding etc must play roles. I know many foreigners who like living in Finland and enjoy the culture.

  29. Tiwaz permalink
    September 5, 2008 8:50 am

    Have I ever said all immigrants are bad? No. But there are disproportionate issues with immigrants. I for some part understand this, Finnish culture and society are rather unique and are not easily understood.

    But that does not mean immigrants should not put work to understanding it. If adapting to Finnish society is too much to ask, I can only recommend moving away. Expecting Finns to change their society to fit you in is in short unrealistic expectation.

    And refusal to understand and follow Finnish norms is going to lead to other problems. Those crime rates mentioned…

    They are caused by immigrants who have moved to Finland but have not adapted their thinking into Finland. They rape, because they still act as if they lived in their native country where values and traditions are different. They have not worked out that here woman wearing miniskirt is not invitation to sex.

    In short, they refuse to adapt to this society, to integrate. That is the issue. Finns will not make their women wear burkha to make this section of society stop committing crimes, this portion of immigrants has to change their thinking to fit Finnish system. Either that, or there WILL be more issues when people get tired of these disproportionate crimes.

    Now to your earlier response

    -True, but there are no laws that can force them o do so. If there are, please enlighten us. Mutual respect is paramount. If this exists, there is a greater chance the foreigners will integrate better into Finnish society. You cannot ask them to throw away their identity nor their culture. That is illegal and a breach of basic human rights.

    Mutual respect my ass. This is Finland. In case you still have not figured it out, this place follows Finnish tradition, culture and rules. You do NOT import your values here. That is the most FUNDAMENTAL mistake immigrant can make, expect things to work out like at home. That is also the reason of disproportionate crime.

    You cannot expect Finns to start tolerating behavior which violates Finnish cultural rules. You cannot expect US, FINNS to abandon OUR identity and culture. And that is what you do if you expect us to bow to whatever traditions each immigrant wants to bring with them.

    -Very good suggestions. By behaving like a Finn you mean understanding how Finns interact, right? f so, then I agree.

    Understanding and DOING so. If you keep trying to behave like you would behave at home, wherever that is, you are bound to insult Finns and Finnish culture. When at home, do what you want (within law) but in public areas you behave like Finnish society expects you to behave. That is not just what law tells you to do, but also the unwritten rules of Finnish interaction (or lack of it).

    -What would a Finn say in this situation. We are not communicating! Right information is very important. I don’t think that many foreigners think that the country they live must work like there’s. However, as a European, I’d expect Finland to adhere and have common EU laws and values.

    But we hold OUR laws and values above EU ones.
    In short, if you behave like you would in some other EU country, you are bound to FAIL. This is not EU, EU has not removed out OWN cultural identity and social functions.

    If you want to succeed in Finland, you have to do it by Finnish rules. You can’t go cry about EU if you fail in that.

    You have equal position here. I would not expect to be hired over equally competent frenchman in France if I spoke no France or understood how to behave in France.

    Immigrants are treated equally, they just have not made the legwork of making themselves acceptable in Finnish society. They are treated like Finnish rejects and outcasts (to use rough term) because they BEHAVE like Finnish rejects and outcasts.

    Once immigrant learns to behave like someone who fits in Finnish society ,even if it is acting, they will stand on equal ground with native. Don’t bitch that you are not chosen for job X if you have not bothered to integrate.

    Integrate = Behave like Finn in public, learn to speak Finnish.

    -Again you generalize. Is there a scientific study that substantiates your claim that Finns are introverted? There are all types of Finns and communicating in Finnish is different than when speaking in Italian. Silence in some cultures is considered an embarrassing thing because it means that we are not communicating. This is big generalization, however. But if we understand this, and know how each other’s culture works, then differences don’t make that much of a difference. When we compare our culture (ethnocentrism) to other ones, that is when we get pissed off and feel a lot of conflict.

    Finnish culture is introverted. You yourself gave example.
    Problem here is, immigrants try to behave according to their native cultural terms. Yes, it is always generalisation but culture IS generalisation of accepted rules. It never fits 100% to actions of single individual of that culture, but it represents accurate estimate on how for example 1 million of such individuals respond to same stimuli. It also represents principles on how these 1 million interact with one another, enabling individuals to interact with other individuals without continuously insulting them.

    Here is couple definitions of culture:
    “A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next. ”

    “Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other hand, as conditioning influences upon further action. ”

    From Merriam-Webster dictionary:
    ” the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time ”

    It does not represent individual, but GROUP. Thus, if you are stuck with individual you will fail. You have to look at Finns as group. That is when Finnish culture is revealed to you.

    Now, where this leads?

    It leads to situation where you have to understand what while I understand italian guy having culture where silence is considered bad, him putting out nonstop flood of words is STILL going to annoy the hell out of me, because I am through Finnish cultural sense conditioned to actually try to pay attention to him. Because I expect him to say something worthwhile.

    Now, if I am in Italy I have to accept this. I have to accept that I am expected to make chitchat.

    But in Finland, italian guy has to learn to SHUT UP because if he does not, he keeps annoying the crap out of everyone around them. He is not integrating!

    Yes, it will be painful for him to shut up and let people prepare and express their opinion. But equally painful it is for me to try to engage in idle banter while trying to formulate and express opinion to him in Italy.

    When in Rome… So, when in Finland. Learn silence. Silence is not embarrasing, it is sign that you are putting real effort to your response.

    When you come to my home and try to force your culture upon me through endless speech, I get annoyed and we have conflict. And if we are at my home, I have every right to be. Immigrant and visitor has to learn to play by rules of host nation/house, not try to make them follow his.

    Why is this difficult concept?

  30. acc permalink
    September 12, 2008 12:59 pm

    If we look at the unemployment figures (20% jobless among foreigners) and the motives of non-Finns that moved to this country according to their residence permit applications, we are still faraway from being an immigrant-friendly country.

    E,

    I got an impression that Finland should be more immigrant friendly. Why? It is their country and they can do with it as they please.

    A

  31. Enrique permalink
    September 12, 2008 1:03 pm

    No, it is the way the way that a modern country functions. It deals with problems and attempts to solve them. Don’t tell me that you are another one that believes that foreigners have no rights. They do, in fact, because they live in Finland.

  32. October 12, 2008 11:09 pm

    Here in the states we are by far the most immigrant unfriendly place I can think of. We discriminate mostly against those from Latin American countries, everyone else seems to get a reasonable shot at entry, but Mexicans and others from the south seem to get blocked more. Might just be my perception.

  33. Enrique permalink
    October 13, 2008 12:36 pm

    Hi Fredric S., and welcome to Migrant Tales. That is an interesting point. Do you think the discrimination that Latinos face in the United States is because they speak a foreign language, Spanish? Latin Americans are a big group: Brazilians, Argentineans, Mexicans, Peruvians…Is it blanket discrimination against all Latin Americans?

  34. dan permalink
    October 18, 2008 12:34 pm

    i agree with you tiwaz. no need for mincing words here. finland is for finnish people and their respective culture.

    i am an african immigrant living here in finland, though i have heard all kinds of explicit claims from my african counterparts who live here, there are some who are quite
    prosperus and have good jobs because they have intergrated. some have gone as far as getting fiinish wifes and husbands! (which is a big thing in african culture)

    what i tend to disagree with you tiwaz is when you say that it’s all up to the strangers to conform to your society. it has to be accepted that finland is a comparatively green country in terms of immigration. discrimination will soon wear away when a finn. realises that despite the differences, there are bad immigrants, as well as there are bad finns. ie when intergration is at it’s initial stages, hostility is accepted. problem tiwaz , is when the strangers get to know the finnish people better than the finnish peope know them. don’t you think that a stranger who learns the finish culture,language and mannerisms stands a better chance even more than the finn?

    i guess what enrique and the others are saying is that it’s about time the shy introverted boy learns how to socialise in university. it’s painful to say this, but the finnish people should just as well develop some curiosity about other cultures. this will be for their own good.

    otherwise the outlook is positive. with globalisation, things are changing, countries are being forced to become more open, companies forced to hire from abroad, and eventually people forced to intergrate. it will be a pity if finland is left behind.

  35. Enrique permalink
    October 18, 2008 1:33 pm

    Hi Dan, thank you for your insightful comment. I encourage more to take your example. I take my hat off for those Africans you mention who have “made it” in Finnish society. This is a good example that things can change. Certainly when people from different cultures notice that they have more to gain than lose from their interaction, that is when we will understand the positive points of a diverse society.

  36. Tiwaz permalink
    October 23, 2008 3:44 pm

    Again Dan, while I appriciate that you as immigrant have learned to accept Finnish culture and integrate.

    But you still have some way to go. You say Finns have to change, lose our introvert nature. Why? Why is it bad to be introvert?

    You have not noticed, I think, that many Finns do tend to know about other cultures. Hell, some of my countrymen absolutely worship them. But mostly, we do not want to become like them. We even have papers in company where I work which describe various cultural taboos in different parts of world. What kind of gifts to avoid etc.

    Finns do see and know, younger generations more than older. But we do not want to monkey what other cultures do. While you may think that something from your culture is greatest thing since sliced bread, for example socializing and smalltalk, we might disagree.

    Why should we change then if we have no interest? If we value peace and quiet over idle chatter, which we are quite capable of in our own circle of friends. We just do not extend that same attitude to others. Which is Finnish way.

    When will rest of the world learn from Finnish culture to shut up and stop blabbering?
    That is just as valid question as telling that Finnish culture should learn from foreign cultures.

    Finland is Finnish. We want it to remain that way. We, the natives, have every right to want it that way. When I look abroad how “enriched” societies Enrique admires are with internal conflict and other problems with huge crime etc. I see even more wisdom in refusing to follow these “multicultural” societies in their folly.

    Finland will not be left behind. Finland is country ahead the curve, because backlash agains multiculturalism is coming. And if we can avoid hitting the bottom like UK, France and rest, we come out in front. And not only do we come out in front, we will be destination where every GOOD immigrant wants to go, because our society is still uniform, safe and stable. While “multicultural” ones are trying to sort out the destruction left by multicultural idiocy.

    It is time you blabbermouth immigrants learn to behave in Finnish way in Finnish society. So shut up and learn to value silence, privacy and respect privacy and silence of others.

    People from other cultures would do well to respect local culture and stop trying to push their culture into it. Such attempts are never appriciated. And Finns, accustomed to proper manners and respect, have even less patience for such rude behavior.

  37. Calculator Man permalink
    December 8, 2008 3:16 pm

    Tiwaz: I think you are a really weak person

    • Enrique permalink
      December 8, 2008 6:40 pm

      I would not call him a weak person. Only uniformed.

  38. Tiwaz permalink
    December 9, 2008 10:34 am

    Actually, I am too informed. I know well the dark side of Enrique’s beloved “multiculturalism”.

    It has failed everywhere in developed world. Some people claim Brazil as success. But Brazil slaughtered natives, destroyed their culture and still is underdeveloped country.

    They have had all those resources and have failed to rise above their level. Finland managed to turn from agrarian society to state of the art technology heaven in lifetime of one generation.

    So why would I want to have anything multicultural in my country? We have proven ourselves superior to multicultural society through success.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 9, 2008 10:50 am

      So what is my “bright” side? You generalize and blame all of the world’s problems on multiculturalism. That is wrong.

  39. Tiwaz permalink
    December 10, 2008 7:11 am

    Your bright side is very small and ineffective. It works in extremely small groups of people where we handle individuals.

    When you take large number of people from certain culture, same from another and same from third. It turns into mess and conflict. As it is no longer about individuals but populations. And populations act totally differently from individuals.

    I do not blame all the world problems on multiculturalism. I just point out that every time it is attempted, result is either underdeveloped country, race riot country, civil war country, massacre country, divided country, poverty country, unstable country or multiple of these in one.

    It does not have ability to produce stable, prosperous, developed, undivided society which does not turn against itself.

    That we have here in Finland. Stable, prosperous, developed and undivided society. One that WORKS, one that does not fight with itself.

    You want to turn us into yet another horrible mess where different cultures are at each others throats, trying to fight for dominance.

    • Enrique permalink
      December 10, 2008 9:45 am

      –Your bright side is very small and ineffective. It works in extremely small groups of people where we handle individuals. When you take large number of people from certain culture, same from another and same from third. It turns into mess and conflict. As it is no longer about individuals but populations. And populations act totally differently from individuals.

      OK, Mr. Social Psychologist.

      –I do not blame all the world problems on multiculturalism. I just point out that every time it is attempted, result is either underdeveloped country, race riot country, civil war country, massacre country, divided country, poverty country, unstable country or multiple of these in one.

      The flaw in your argument is that you think that cultures are “mono” when in fact they have always interacted. By expanding interaction they diversify and improve their ability to survive. So, attempts like what happened in Nazi Germany to murder native Germans because they were different, is an aberration, something that goes against the current. Cultural diversity is NORMAL. National identities are based on myths and are in a way artificial.

      –It does not have ability to produce stable, prosperous, developed, undivided society which does not turn against itself.

      A multicultural society “turns against itself” when a bunch of jerks start to fantasize about monoculturalism and how bad diversity is. This creates civil wars and strife. In order to avoid such atrocities, we HAVE TO LEARN to live, respect and grow together. Isn’t that good advice?

    • Enrique permalink
      December 10, 2008 10:10 am

      –That we have here in Finland. Stable, prosperous, developed and undivided society. One that WORKS, one that does not fight with itself.

      But look at yourself. You are fighting with me and all those who disagree with you.

  40. Tiwaz permalink
    December 10, 2008 12:23 pm

    -But look at yourself. You are fighting with me and all those who disagree with you.

    Because you try to destroy that prosperous, stable and developed society. Replace it with conflict filled multicultural hellhole. Hell yes I would fight to prevent such thing.

    -The flaw in your argument is that you think that cultures are “mono” when in fact they have always interacted. By expanding interaction they diversify and improve their ability to survive. So, attempts like what happened in Nazi Germany to murder native Germans because they were different, is an aberration, something that goes against the current. Cultural diversity is NORMAL. National identities are based on myths and are in a way artificial.

    Stop being stupid. Cultural diversity is normal, multiculturalism is NOT normal.
    Monocultural in this case means situation where ONE culture is supreme in any given area. Any other cultures follow principles laid by this culture, and follow these rules. These subjected cultures then have their own cultural space where dominant culture does not have any set tradition or value. But where dominant culture has value or tradition, it overrules any traditions or values of subjected cultures.

    It provides stable society. That is what Finland has. Lapps, Gypsies etc. All understand that they have to act in Finnish society according to Finnish rules.

    National identities are not based on myths, you little imbecile. Perhaps they are across the pond where you are product of god knows how many different colonisation waves from different countries, but here we have very clear lines in countries.

    Finnish national identity and finnish cultural identity are practically inseparable. This is not some whacked up colony where half a dozen different colonial powers dumped their unwanted excess population, we are the natives of this country. Our nationality and our culture are one and same.

    -A multicultural society “turns against itself” when a bunch of jerks start to fantasize about monoculturalism and how bad diversity is. This creates civil wars and strife. In order to avoid such atrocities, we HAVE TO LEARN to live, respect and grow together. Isn’t that good advice?

    Why do we have to learn it? Why have we not already learned it?

    What about learning to fly. WE HAVE TO LEARN TO FLY!!!
    That is again equally stupid demand to your requirement to live, respect and all that shit. There are things you just cannot change. You have to accept that.

    One of those things is that cultures, if not subjected to one dominant one, fight for dominance. It is rule of nature, just like dying and being born. You cannot change it.
    Multiculturalism just does not work.

    In order to avoid those atrocities, people have to learn to accept that when they move to another country, they have to be prepared to give up from any existing cultural baggage which might not fit in the requirements of new society.

    Why the hell would we natives want to import your multiculturalism to our society when it has always failed to produce stable society? Do you have ANY proof that it would not turn into another shithole like all the others? No. so why would we want to change perfectly functional system to one which does not work?

    Do you think we are stupid?

  41. Lilith permalink
    April 27, 2009 4:11 pm

    Terve!i adore Finland and Finns and finnish language ,just everything about Finland!(my passion towords Finland grew from metal music , especially from the band Children of Bodom)I dream of moving to Finland,i study Finnish by myself, cuz here were i live( Armenia) it’s impossible to find a finnish teacher😦 But the problem is that i have no idea how i can move to Finland legally😦

    • Enrique permalink
      April 27, 2009 9:31 pm

      Hi Lilith, welcome to Migrant Tales — a piece of Finland from your view from Armenia. Why don’t you come as a tourist and check out the place. Do any of our bloggers have any suggestions for Lilith?

  42. Lilith permalink
    April 28, 2009 7:21 am

    yea i plan to visit Finland someday as a tourist🙂
    By the way thanks for this blog it’s really very-very useful!

    • Enrique permalink
      April 28, 2009 7:26 am

      Thank you, Lilith. Welcome and I hope you have a wonderful stay.

  43. Words of Wisdom permalink
    May 4, 2009 3:29 pm

    I have been analysing the comments on this blog, and i am disappointed in most of what has been said here.

    I am writing my opinion here, and i am not going to be biased towards any side, just point out the realistic situation of living here.

    Granted, Finland is difficult for foreigners to come and integrate in, but how can it not be when only 5.2 million people speak Finnish. For a foreigner coming here, why would they want to learn a language that only a insignificant amount of people speak it?

    Foreigners have been given a somewhat wrong image here, but that is the fault of the type ‘B’ imigrants, or should i say refugees. Not to discriminate, but most of these people seem to come from African countries, and most of them come here to find a better opportunity. Can you really blame them?

    But there is a larger picture here.

    Type ‘B’ immigrants are brought here by the Finnish government, as part of the international law treaties that they signed when joining the EU and other organisations.

    Another issue that type ‘B’ immigrants have is that they CANNOT work. What does this mean? They can’t work honestly to survive, so the government HAS to provide them with Kela money so that they can survive. What image does that give to the Finns? Foreigners only come here to live off our tax money.

    Its a big circle of never ending arguments and frustration from both sides.

    I agree with the comments someone mentioned that foreigners need to adapt to Finnish society, and that is true and that will not change for a very long time – at least by 2020, when every 3rd person will be a foreigner. That information is on statistics finland and provided by the finnish government.

    That means that foreigners are accepted here, they are welcome – but in a Finnish way. Traditionally cold.

    Many Finns will talk about how foreigners are bad for the country etc. But the question that i ask those kind of people is where would Finland be without the foreigners? All Finnish companies need to internationalise in order to make money. Finland is a extremely small market that cannot sustain itself, so Finland NEEDS foreigners, foreign money and foreign workers – just as every country does.

    Someone also mentioned that Finland is finally free, but is it truely free? Finland has been independant for over 90 years yet Swedish is still spoken as a official second language. In my books, thats still colonialism to some extent.

    Both parties have a lot to learn from each other. Both parties need to be open minded and think for the future and not just today and what today brings.

    Finnish society is slowly disappearing. The ‘true’ finns (people who are fully finnish) are reducing in number every year and the population of foreigners is always increasing. Face it, that statement speaks for itself in what will happen in the future.

    Furthermore, if the EU gets its way in being united, Finland and all other countries will become one. From there i can predict that the world will become one as well. We will all speak one language, use one currency and there is nothing that anyone can do about it except accept it.

    Currently, Finland reminds me of the church. A few hundred years ago, the church opposed science, today science rules supreme with the church and religion in the background. The results are always the same, just a the stone that obstructs the flow of the river errodes with time. It is already showing with the previous president gone. The anti-everything cunt whose name has slipped my mind.

    I like Finnish culture, as i like all cultures. I respect yours if you respect mine. People here will do things differently always, but that is the same everywhere you go.

    So i say again to both groups, suck it up and accept each other for what you are. There will always be bad seeds on BOTH sides, but that is the way of life and nothing can be perfect in the real world.

    If foreigners need to adapt, adapt. Its for your own benefit anyway. Also appriciate the opportunity to be here, because you could have been rejected.

    If Finns don’t like it, adapt, because this is the way things are. Also appriciate foreign people; they are not here to take your jobs or whatever, people just want to have a better life, and if not here then somewhere else.

    People will comment on this post both positively and negatively, but what i have written is based on facts, own experience and just having a realistic overview of the situation.

    • Enrique permalink
      May 4, 2009 9:17 pm

      Hi Words of Widsom, and welcome to Migrant Tales and thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I think one important matter to keep in mind when debating this topic is that we try not to fall into clear, separate camps: for and against.
      You are absolutely right what you say about nationalism fading away and giving was, at least as a first phase, to a pan-European identity. Nationalism is a terrible thing for nations and has been the igniting spark that has led to war. The adaption process in Finland is a two-way street. Both have to make room for each other in order to create a harmonious existence.
      Hopefully we will learn in Europe to alslo judge people “by character and not the color of their skin” (Martin Luther King).

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