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Interview of Berfin – From Turkey to Finland

Berfin is a Turkish woman who moved to Tampere one year ago to pursue her master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations.

Berfin is in her second year of studies and working part-time at HappyOrNot Ltd. After graduation, she plans to stay in Finland and to continue to work full-time at her current company and her association, Food For Good.

Why did you choose Finland?

My primary idea was that Finland is a Nordic country: it’s safe and the living standards are way better than in any other European country. I also chose Finland because of the scholarship opportunities.

Forests and lakes in Finland
Finnish nature. The picture was taken from Berfin. 

How does the scholarship work? For how long do you have it?

It is awarded for two years of studies and they basically grant the exemption from the tuition fee and a monthly allowance, which is given for 10 months per year. Pretty enough for a student living in Tampere. If you cannot finish your masters, e.i. you may finish your courses instead but you still need to finish your thesis, you can extend your studies for one year and you won’t pay the tuition fee, but the monthly allowance won’t be awarded anymore. But scholarships are only for non-EU students, so if a person comes from outside Europe and he/she provides many curricula activities done during your BA studies, and also other involvements as NGOs or internships did abroad, he/she is likely to get the scholarship.

What were the requirements for the scholarship?

I think everyone or every university has different types of criteria, but for UTA they didn’t write anything about it. Of course, you need to be a non-EU citizen and it is merit-based. If you offer a great deal of a variety of experiences and you are involved in projects, together with your studies, those are the things that make you eligible.

Would you recommend Finnish education to other people?

I believe that Finnish education is exceptional, they prioritize and value their students, making the education system more appealing to international students.

Turkish student in Finland during an event

Are you currently working in Finland? Could you tell us more about it?

Yes, I’m glad that I have a job. I work at HappyOrNot Ltd. which measures customer satisfaction and employees’ satisfaction in different organizations, mostly in companies around the world. Currently, the company has a business in more than 100 countries and it is still growing. There is a lot of international employees in the company, more than 20 different nationalities.

I have two different roles: Customer contract analyst and customer service for Turkish clients.

Do you speak Finnish while working?

No, because it is an international company, very flexible and diverse.

Do you think that there are good opportunities for a non-Finnish speaker to find a job in Finland then?

No, I can’t say so. Because it is really hard to get a job if you are not a Finnish speaker. I remember I’ve been searching for jobs for more than 6 months and each time I applied for a job, most of them declined because I didn’t know how to speak Finnish. I believe that international organizations should have someone speaking English, but they always require Finnish. But if you apply to an IT or business administration company, I think it is more likely to find a job even though you don’t know the native language.

Student from Turkey in Finland

What were the struggles that you had encountered while you were searching for a job?

It was very challenging, and I feel like everything is uncertain. Thanks to Google, I found career websites like LinkedIn, Indeed or Monster. I was even looking for a cleaning job! I found the current job on Indeed and that was the last job I have applied to because I was granted an internship grant. So, I started to search for a paid internship for the summer and I called every day different organizations and companies from 9 am to 11 am; but they all declined because of the lack of Finnish skills or lack of resources. Finally an offer, but it was an unpaid internship. Overall, I’m glad I have found my current position!

Your current life and work in Finland?

I’m really satisfied with my job and they even allowed me to start working part-time so I can focus on my master thesis.

You have found an association called Food For Good, What is it about?

This May 2018, I came up with the idea of establishing an immigrant kitchen because I saw that there were many examples around the world. So why not establishing one also here in Tampere? Food for Good is a non-profit organization and currently, there are 9 members. We are holding food tasting events and at each event, we have different cuisines. The food is diverse and our ultimate aim is to establish an immigrant kitchen.

Foreign students in Finland inside the room with projector
Food for Good event in Finland

Do you have any recommendations for students who are struggling to find a job in Finland?

Keep searching until you find something because it really increases your chances to find a job. I applied for any kind of job, from cleaning to graphic designing, any kind of work that I could find. Even though you have a little understanding of that field, it is good that you apply, because maybe they might offer you another position in the same company. Don’t give up!

Blog interview article by one of our student interns, Yesselin Hermano, currently pursuing her master’s degree in Leadership For Change in Finland.

More student stories and real-life study abroad experiences:

Student Experience of Catherine Maloney – An Indian Student in Finland

Adjusting to a New Life – Challenges Faced by International Students

What is it like to study at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences?

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