Breeze from Greece - How I enjoy Kuopio
Congratulations Aada Kasmi for the people’s choice award in the Fitness Cover Girl competition! How do you feel about participating in beauty contests in Finland?
Thank you! It was great to have a chance to take part and I´m happy I was chosen. Taking part in beauty competitions, often as the only foreigner, is kind of scary. Every time I win, it makes me feel proud, but at the same time the responsibility is huge.
Did you find it difficult to integrate into the Finnish society? Or making Finnish friends? As they say, Finns are not that social.
I feel lucky because Finnish people enjoy visiting Greece for their holidays. When I tell people I am from a Greek island we always find things in common to talk about. Many Finns know something about Greece and I have been talking about Greek mythology with some. And I discovered it´s true what my teacher told us back in primary school. People really study Greek mythology around the World, not just in Greece.
Arriving in Finland, the first thing I experienced and can never forget was the snow and cold weather that I had not felt in my life. The weather aside, it was a culture shock moving from my country, as people in Finland are very different from Greek people. We are more social and more temperamental. But after learning the Finnish language, I have been able to make more friends in Kuopio.
How have you found the quality of public services in Kuopio? I mean ranging from daycare to health care, public sport facilities and public transportation. What are the differences compared to Greece? And which ones are your favorites?
This is one of the things I really like about Finland and probably the reason why I didn't make the decision to move back to my country. Living standards are so much higher here than in Greece. I feel safer living here.
I will just give an example that can make you understand what I am trying to say. Waiting for the bus in Greece can take you two extra hours because the bus driver might take a break without informing anyone about it.
I have a five-year-old daughter. She goes to day care and I feel happy to see that even as she spends hours there every day, she is raised by professional workers, who teach the kids in a good and safe way.
Another big event in my life I would like to share is that I had a car accident that could have cost my life. It was then when I recognized the very good health care system available in Finland. I sometimes hear Finnish people complaining about the health care system. It's probably because as they say in my country - "as much as you have, it´s never enough and you always want more".
You have found a job in Finland, or several of them, actually. How did you find your jobs? Have you experienced difficulties?
I got my job in an advertisement company when I won my first beauty competition in Finland. The other one, as a barber, I got by simply walking in and asking if they would recruit, or is it an issue that I don´t speak flawless Finnish. Luckily, they were willing to give a shot to working with a foreign-born person.
I have found employers to be open-minded and have not experienced difficulties or prejudices. Of course, it helps me a lot that I speak Finnish, compared to not speaking it at all. Finnish employers take into account the skills that one has, instead of where she is from. It´s hard for me to believe that someone would not hire you because you´re a foreigner. Maybe that was the case before, but now it´s 2019 and Finns get more accustomed to foreigners all the time.
In general, how have you enjoyed living in Kuopio?
Even as I was born and grew up in Athens, a bigger city than Kuopio, I can tell you that I wouldn´t change my choices. I like the fact that I live in smaller place now, where everything is close. I see the same faces almost every day and I feel so much safer in a place like this. And of course I have got used to living here.
Living here alone with my daughter, far from my family, Kuopio makes my every day life much easier. Even though I need to visit many different cities in Finland because of my work, I think I still want to stay in Kuopio for a longer time.
Photo and interview Jukka Torikka