Since moving to Finland, there has been one question I have heard a multitude of times and that is “Why Finland?”. It has been uttered to me many times and always with the same sincere curiosity. Hearing the same question over and over again, I started to wonder “Why that specific question?”. While I pondered the significance of the question I realised that ultimately people were just curious about how I ended up in Finland. So here it is, starting from the beginning.
Where it all began
After graduating from Fashion School in South Africa, I knew I wanted to move and work abroad, specifically in Europe. All I wanted was to explore the world outside of South Africa and experience different fashion aesthetics, cultures and opportunities. We all have our own preferences, the reason I prefer Europe over any other continent is because I adore the aesthetic of the European buildings, the authentic fashion style and the ease of traveling between multiple countries. This is fortunate since the majority of countries on my bucket list are located within Europe. I truly believe that travel is the best cure for ignorance, which is one of the main reasons I have been determined to live abroad.
Being in a long-term relationship has definitely added to the challenge of making a decision this monumental. A couple of years ago when the idea was first broached, my boyfriend wasn’t altogether ready to commit to a move this big. However everything fell into place when after 3 years of contemplation, we were both ready to finally make the dream become a reality. Deciding on a foreign city was definitely not an easy decision to make, we struggled to find a city that fully catered to both of our careers. The few cities that actually accommodated for both his IT tech career and my fashion design career did not have relocation opportunities which put a damper on our moving plans.
As an e-commerce Fashion brand entrepreneur, I knew I could take the brand wherever I wanted in the world. Of course I know that it will come with its challenges but with hard work nothing is impossible. The advantage of working online is that no fixed location is necessary, allowing me to continue with my work wherever I am. This made me realize that choosing a city wasn’t as hard as I made it out to be and all I really want is to be inspired and be in surroundings that motivate me to develop my abilities and capabilities to new heights. As long as I have that I can simply be anywhere in the world. After taking all of this into consideration, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
The final decision
In the end, my boyfriend and I both decided to focus on countries where the tech/IT field is highly recognized because the tech industry provides a higher and more consistent income than the fashion industry. We found 3 countries that had amazing relocation opportunities, namely Canada, Australia and Finland. At first none of these countries really stood out from the list as being a frontrunner. The only time I had ever heard anything relating to Finland was when there was an international contestant in Big Brother, which my mother was an avid watcher of. I realize now that maybe the reason why people ask “Why Finland?” is because it’s such an unusual choice for anyone moving overseas. Out of the three options the decision wasn’t too difficult to make, I’ve always wanted to live in Europe even if it was in a country that I was less familiar with. Despite Finland not being on my top 10 list initially, the idea of being in Europe was definitely a deciding factor.
The reason behind the question
After being in Finland for just over 5 months, I have finally started to understand why I was hearing the same question. Honestly, choosing to move to Finland is a strange choice, especially because there are so many other more common options. Perhaps it’s the cold weather or the peculiar social culture but whatever the reason is, people are always stunned to hear I’ve moved from sunny South Africa to cold Finland. Even though the move here was challenging at first, particularly arriving here in Winter, the experience of being here is just ever improving. I think people who have lived here for many years or their whole lives can forget how amazing this country actually is. Yes, the weather can get extremely cold in the winter but I am amazed on a daily basis how well everything works in Finland. This is why I moved to Finland and while this is the end of this story, it is only the beginning of my journey in Finland.
By Julia Simons – July 20, 2019