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Being an immigrant in Finland: A letter from Fiona

September 5, 2008

I do not usually do this. But I thought it was such a candid comment that I had to bring it to all of your attention. It reveals, in my opinion, what some foreigners feel about Finnish society but do not dare to say too loudly in public.

Thank you Fiona, I hope others follow your example. The first important step in taking part in any society is debating openly about the issues that affect our lives. It shows that we are active citizens who care about Finland. It is that first important step in integrating.

I am an immigrant. Sometimes I feel so frustrated in Finland that I just wanted to ‘give it back to the society’. Hence the crime. People like me (hypothetically) acting out of frustration. If the mentality here is that no foreigners are good and only a tiny fraction of people like Juha, the social worker, understands and/or appreciates diversity it doesn’t help much because the general society isn’t open=minded. I would even call racist.

If a person like Juha comes to ask me how do I like it in Finland, I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings. A guy who works so hard for us. What do you expect me to say? that I am so frustrated that I can leave this second to another place where I feel more comfortable?

I would reverse those numbers. 95% prejudiced and 4% nonchalant, 0.5% don’t care, 0.001% welcoming (and the rest 0.499% lost in statistics).

Good welfare system is like a double-edged sword for immigrants. We are taken care of but we are also blamed for using them. And so you have to be ever-thankful that you are here, Finland. Because you are given shelter and food, now you can take this mental abuse in the form of institutionalized racism.

Any CONSTRUCTIVE comments?

20 Comments leave one →
  1. Tiwaz permalink
    September 5, 2008 8:23 am

    Which does not tell us what SHE has done to get into society.

    Based on her text, I would venture to guess she hasn’t got a clue on Finnish society or culture.

    My wild guess is that 95% of people DO NOT CARE. It is kind of Finnish thing. You are effectively ignored until there is reason to notice you. Why? Because we respect your privacy.

    Also, again… She falls into trap of expecting things. She expects us to value her cultural traits and whatnot. Let’s be honest… We do not. Finnish society evolved to what it is for a reason.

    How much has she done to be open minded, to understand, value and ADAPT to Finnish culture and society? Does Fiona study Finnish language seriously? Or culture?

    Or does she just expect everything to work out without serious effort?

    Honestly, this letter tells us very little of what Fiona has done, but more of what she would want.

  2. Enrique permalink
    September 5, 2008 8:58 am

    Those are pretty harsh words, Tiwaz. Probably she has a better idea than what you may think because at least she had the courage to express her view. Expecting things? Don’t you expect a lot of things about Finland daily? You expect your rights to be respected, the government to defend your rights — you expect the simplest things to work such as a traffic lights. As members of society we can expect things.
    Let’s hope that Fiona can answer your other questions.

  3. Tiwaz permalink
    September 5, 2008 10:12 am

    Ah, but what I expect are things that are in Finnish society.

    If I started to expect preferential treatment or getting employed when I look for job… I would be in for a rough wakening.

    This again is about culture. There are things you can expect in Finnish society, and then there are things you cannot expect.

    Problem is, Fiona most likely is expecting many things which belong to latter category instead of former. This is based upon her conditioning to different kind of society and culture, and she is feeling agitated because her knowledge on how things work is now useless.

    She has not yet, most likely, understood that she has to adjust herself to existing conditions, which includes learning what she can expect in Finnish culture and society and what are the underlying rules controlling it.

    Basically, immigrants are far too eager to scream racism when things do not go their way. Honestly, if someone thinks that 95% of people are prejudiced against you… You really should look at mirror and wonder if you are actually looking at this situation objectively and consider possibility that YOU are doing something wrong.

    Instead of trying to claim you are doing nothing wrong and that 95% of people are racist.

  4. September 5, 2008 5:46 pm

    I live in Finland. My wife works, I collect social welfare and pull in what I can on the side.
    I wouldn’t bother working straight (if I could) it just don’t pay enough. I don’t give a …k! what some Fins think about that, bearing in mind if you please some others hire me.
    I’d tell it to there face anytime, and do you know what, it wouldn’t make a difference, because some other Fins – most in my opinion – don’t have a real opinion of their own.

    Quite a lot have lost touch with what it’s like to scrape by; they had it so good over the years, but things are about to change rapidly in the next few years.

    Capitalism has filed and it isn’t going down (without a fight) easy.

    PS: There are some cool Fins around. Some being the operative word.
    You find every type in every society all over the world.

  5. Enrique permalink
    September 5, 2008 8:05 pm

    –Quite a lot have lost touch with what it’s like to scrape by; they had it so good over the years, but things are about to change rapidly in the next few years.

    That’s an interesting point. Could that be the heart of the problem. That Finland’s high standard of living has blinded some the those who don’t have it so well? It is a good point.

  6. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 6, 2008 9:22 am

    That high standard of living = blinding issue has been discussed in the press the past few years – when something happens or when these kind of “attitude studies” have come out. What the articles have said is that the people have come more colder and more selfish as opposed to what they were before. One reason given is that the division to the haves and have-nots became more evident during the recession years the polarization started. There is the lack of the “we” spirit and its all “I” now. The thing is the people scraping by in the 1990’s got people like Wahlroos stating “proles just bring sand in their feet to the bank lobby” so I guess the people decided to get themselves above that status and if you lost then that was your problem.

    Its also got to do with whom you compete… the fact remains that the lower your education is the less you speak languages and work in the kind of jobs that the similarily unskilled foreigners compete with you directly. Or if you are on welfare you see foreigners getting stuff and thats a direct competition of resources. So there you can find quite hostile environment. The brain surgeon department then again is in its ivory towers where you find people discussing classical literature and wondering what the rif-raf on the street is doing.

    The ones who drop in between is your middle-class working person. The reason is that they are expected the same education and language as the natives to be able to perform, and it shatters peoples self-image as they are “not good enough” and then are dropped from the middle-class to the proles. They then need to deal with the hostiles while their middle class looks down on them like “get a job you prole”…

  7. Enrique permalink
    September 6, 2008 11:59 am

    DeTant, one of the matters that impressed me about Finland when I moved there permanently in the late-1970s, was that it WAS NOT like the United States. It was a society that had a great sense of unity — and still has. This is a gift to any society and country’s blessed by such values can accomplish many things considered impossible. I, for one, hope that Finland will never lose this sense of unity.
    But there is a challenge now as more foreigners come to live in Finland. How can we integrate these people into being part of this grand project we call Finland? Do we need another “Winter War” to unify the country just like what happened between the Reds and Whites?
    Most foreigners, like most Finns, care about the society they live and want to contribute to it.

  8. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 6, 2008 1:16 pm

    Ah, but now you are then championing further disbanding the unity by multiculturalism and globalization. I think Tizwas will champion this question.

    I know – the argument is that the unity should not be based on race or creed or color – but it has never actually been so. Theres been a lot of different groups accepted and as in WW2 era “Finland doesn’t have a Jewish question”. You just need to realize that the society is what it is and it is you who needs to find the doorway instead of banging your head into the brick wall. The locals awho know where the doors are can not understand your problem. And for the likes of Fiona my answer would be – then leave – nobody is going to change their ways to accommodate her – she is in a foreign country and not at home so expecting everything to be like at home is surely frustrating. As much as it would be frustrating to me to start changing my ways every whining git out there starts complaining about something.

    Yes I agree Finland *is* unique – with its warts and all – and as I also agree that it is *not* like the USA so why is it theres people wanting to change it to some Canada or some other place? I can not understand it at all. But then again I am a bit dumb.

    What I think the answer is what Kennedy said: “Don’t ask what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

    And what happened with the Reds and Whites is they killed anyone who hadn’t integrated.

  9. Enrique permalink
    September 6, 2008 1:35 pm

    Yes, DeTant, but he meant ALL Americans regardless of their background.

    John F. Kennedy also said the following:

    “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

  10. Tiwaz permalink
    September 6, 2008 4:33 pm

    Here is another quote.

    ‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.’

    — Maya Angelou

    You can’t change Finns. Swedes tried that, they failed. Russians tried, they failed.

    We as people exist because we are so goddamn stubborn that we refuse to change to appease ANYONE. So, change your attitude immigrants! Because Finland damn sure won’t change for you.

    ‘Things don’t change. You change your way of looking, that’s all.’

    — Carlos Castaneda

    ‘Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.’

    — Leo Tolstoy

    So, how about changing yourselves first, then thinking if Finnish society should have changed to fit you as your earlier self. You might find out that you do not want that change anymore.

    I think nothing more needs to be said of unity, which you agree to be of utmost importance for continuing existence of Finns as people, society and nation.

    Multiculturalism is very opposite of unity, it is division. It would weaken this society, as it has fractured and weakened every society where it has been attempted.

  11. Enrique permalink
    September 7, 2008 1:29 pm

    ‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.’

    — Maya Angelou

    There’s an old saying in the United States: If you can’t beat them join them.

    Nobody is asking you to appease anyone. Just follow the laws. Racism and discrimination is illegal.

    When an immigrant goes to a new country, he changes already because of his environment. I’ve seen this with my own eyes in the countries I have lived in. People move to improve their lives NOT worsen them. You talk about integration… And there aren’t even enough opportunities for foreigners to attend Finnish-language classes in the Helsinki area because demand far outstrips what is offered. If you give people chances, and offer them the opportunities, I think you would have to be pretty dumb not strike at the opportunity.

    My complain about your arguments is that you see things too simplistically. Integration is a complex thing but for it to succeed society must be willing to give such people an opportunity.

    Change happens all the time. Societies change, people change and we die one day for that. So we would let new ideas, people and society change. I’m not as pessimistic and intransigent as you.

  12. Onkko permalink
    September 8, 2008 3:11 am

    http://islamtieto.com/viewtopic.php?t=1261
    There is what islams want

  13. Enrique permalink
    September 8, 2008 6:42 am

    Hey, I get junk mail everyday from Russian women who are looking for husbands. Are you in an organization that defends women’s rights?

  14. Tiwaz permalink
    September 8, 2008 10:23 am

    -There’s an old saying in the United States: If you can’t beat them join them.

    You can’t beat Finns in Finland, so how about stopping trying?

    -Nobody is asking you to appease anyone. Just follow the laws. Racism and discrimination is illegal.

    Yes you are. You are expecting me to accept alien cultures and cultural norms as “normal” in Finland. They are not, they are foreign cultures and norms. They are not Finnish cultural norms. In Finland, we follow FINNISH cultural norms.

    I do not agree to cheek kissing between men, I do not agree to making women wear burkha, I do not agree to “manana” as acceptable concept, I do not agree with “can do” attitude…

    Those are all alien concepts not native to Finland. We have our own culture which I expect to be followed and respected in Finland. Nothing else.

    In Finland, do things the Finnish way or don’t whine when your unintegrated ass is repeatedly kicked out from interview for being useless to this society.

    Laws are only beginning. Rest is about functionality of society. If you do not fall in step with society, you will be outcast and treated as one. Laws are not beginning and end of what you must learn to obey. Cultural norms come after laws, and while violating them may not lead to actual punishment in court, unintegrating idiots are still punished. They will not succeed because they fail to respect culture and tradition of Finnish society. They will bitch how they can’t get job, how people are racist or whatever. And fail to look into mirror and understand that they have failed to adapt to country they moved into.

    -When an immigrant goes to a new country, he changes already because of his environment. I’ve seen this with my own eyes in the countries I have lived in. People move to improve their lives NOT worsen them. You talk about integration… And there aren’t even enough opportunities for foreigners to attend Finnish-language classes in the Helsinki area because demand far outstrips what is offered. If you give people chances, and offer them the opportunities, I think you would have to be pretty dumb not strike at the opportunity.

    But they do not change enough. They bitch and whine and demand appeasement, to have Finland turn more like whatever their home was.

    -My complain about your arguments is that you see things too simplistically. Integration is a complex thing but for it to succeed society must be willing to give such people an opportunity.

    It is simple. In Finland, do as Finns do. Do not try to import your native country here. We do not become argentinian, american, italian or whateveristan to make you feel at home. WE ARE FINNS IN FINLAND. Over here, it is OUR way.

    -Change happens all the time. Societies change, people change and we die one day for that. So we would let new ideas, people and society change. I’m not as pessimistic and intransigent as you.

    No, we do not let people come here and try to twist this society into form of their orignal society. As you said, people come to Finland to seek BETTER place to live in. But immediately try to start twisting Finland into that comfortable pattern of whatever hellhole they originated from.

    Just look at yourself! You are originating from one or multiple multicultural hellholes with excessive social unequality, division of society and various other problems. But still you try to champion idea of changing Finland into same kind of multicultural hellhole.

  15. Enrique permalink
    September 8, 2008 10:35 am

    I never though it applied to things like integration. It is totally ludicrous for a black man in the 19th century South to say, well since I’m a black slave and I cannot change the system, I might as well accept it.

    — Yes you are. You are expecting me to accept alien cultures and cultural norms as “normal” in Finland. They are not, they are foreign cultures and norms. They are not Finnish cultural norms. In Finland, we follow FINNISH cultural norms.

    There is a big difference between your form of adaption to respect. Fine. Prohibit other people from practicing their culture and retaining their identity. Go ahead, Tiwaz. Apply the law… If you did that you would be accused of the same things that autocratic nations do. And anyway, it is illegal. Why do you talk so much about following laws and rules when you are breaking them with your suggestions to fit your views?

    Your view that culture lives in a sort of bubble is wrong. Cultures receive influences all the time and they change.

    Hellholes?… Well, I guess in your myopic world, you would call it that. I call it enrichment — as do many others.

  16. Tiwaz permalink
    September 8, 2008 11:00 am

    -I never though it applied to things like integration. It is totally ludicrous for a black man in the 19th century South to say, well since I’m a black slave and I cannot change the system, I might as well accept it.

    You can of course try to fight it. But don’t come whining when things do not turn out the way you wanted.

    -There is a big difference between your form of adaption to respect. Fine. Prohibit other people from practicing their culture and retaining their identity. Go ahead, Tiwaz. Apply the law… If you did that you would be accused of the same things that autocratic nations do. And anyway, it is illegal. Why do you talk so much about following laws and rules when you are breaking them with your suggestions to fit your views?

    They are free to practice their culture at home. Nobody is forcing them to come here, but if they do come here… Why they expect me to appease their immigrant ass and bend over backwards to meet their cultural norms?

    And again, there is no need for law. It is something every immigrant should understand from beginning. To be equal to Finn, you have to behave like Finn. Same for France, to be equal you have to learn to behave French.

    Do not bitch and moan if you follow alien cultural norms and as result fail at what you try.

    -Your view that culture lives in a sort of bubble is wrong. Cultures receive influences all the time and they change.

    Yes, and Finnish culture changes. When and how NATIVES want it. Not to appease immigrants and make them feel at home. Because when Finland feels like home for unintegrated immigrant, it will feel like anything but home to me. Immigrants can go to their home if they want to live like that, if Finland as Finland no longer exists… There is no longer home for me. This is only Finland there is. To change it to fit for example whims of some Argentinian (IE, make it more like Argentina) would be to create one Argentina and one copy of Argentina and destroy Finland.

    -Hellholes?… Well, I guess in your myopic world, you would call it that. I call it enrichment — as do many others.

    Yes, the idiots.

    In my realist world, those hellholes come with social issues. Poverty. Crime. Civil strife.

    Go on, prove me wrong. Every time you give examples of “heavens” of multiculturalism, all I have to do is kick your sugar coating a little and it is revealed to content something far less pretty and much less desirable.

    Here is little comparison of “enrichment”…
    Finland
    GDP (nominal) 2007 estimate
    – Total $245.491 billion (31st)
    – Per capita $46,602 (12th)

    Argentina
    GDP (nominal) 2007 estimate
    – Total $260.7 billion[6] (31st)
    – Per capita $6,548 (66th)

    Notice, Argentina has 4 times the population.

    Not to mention how fractured society helped dictatorship to be born in that country.

    Keep your multicultural “richness”. If you desire such, move to one of your listed heavens on Earth! Let me keep my boring, poor Finland.

  17. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 11, 2008 6:43 pm

    Nope, Argentina has almost 8 times the population some 40 million, but then again its the 2nd largest country in South America

    And if we compare the facts:

    Ethnic groups: white (mostly Spanish and Italian) 97%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry), Amerindian, or other non-white groups 3%
    Religions: nominally Roman Catholic 92% (less than 20% practicing), Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%
    Languages: Spanish (official), Italian, English, German, French

    While Finland
    Ethnic groups: Finn 93.4%, Swede 5.6%, Russian 0.5%, Estonian 0.3%, Roma (Gypsy) 0.1%, Sami 0.1% (2006)
    Religions: Lutheran Church of Finland 82.5%, Orthodox Church 1.1%, other Christian 1.1%, other 0.1%, none 15.1% (2006)
    Languages: Finnish 91.5% (official), Swedish 5.5% (official), other 3% (small Sami- and Russian-speaking minorities) (2006)

    So actually Argentina is far closer to being a white spanish-speaking roman catholic monoculture, than a quite diverse Finland. Statistically speaking.😉

  18. Tiwaz permalink
    September 12, 2008 5:10 am

    Actually not. You see, you add together everyone based on their ethnicity or “race”… That is, “white”, mixed and so forth.

    But when dealing with Finland, you instead use linguistic or nationality.

    Finns, swedes, russians… They are by huge majority WHITE.

    So if we use same principle for both, we get Finland which is around 99+% white, mainly Finnish or Swedish.

    In same sense, far over 90% of people here speak Finnish.

    Argentina is far more divided in terms of ethnicity and language.

    Religion is less of an issue. If you bothered to check practicing percentage of each religion, I would guess that non-practice or not belonging to any religious group would again get up high near 80-90%

    Again, far more uniform than Argentina.

  19. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 13, 2008 1:25 pm

    Mark Twain said theres lies, big lies and statistics😉

  20. Iqbal Muhammad Khan permalink
    November 6, 2008 9:51 am

    I really know that how is Finland and want to come there, I want to join or make a friend ship with female.

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