From Slo­va­kia to Fin­land: The Expe­rience of Tomas Sle­sar in Oulu

Tomas Slesar

Tomas Sle­sar, a 37-year-old Slo­va­kian nati­ve, has been living in Oulu for 14 years. He moved here from Ger­ma­ny with his wife and toget­her they have three kids.

Coming from the nort­hern parts of Slo­va­kia, Tomas Sle­sar found him­self grappling with the unfa­mi­lia­ri­ty of Fin­nish sum­mers and how the sun never went down and struggled with slee­ping at first. Howe­ver, as time pas­sed, he adap­ted to the Fin­nish weat­her and found it easy to inte­gra­te with the cul­tu­re and people.

Tomas’ deci­sion to reloca­te to Oulu was great­ly influenced by fami­ly con­nec­tions, since his wife’s sis­ter was alrea­dy living in Oulu. Upon his arri­val, Tomas enrol­led in accoun­ting and finance cour­ses at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oulu. Ini­tial­ly, he was taken aback be the dif­fe­rences in cli­ma­te and lifes­ty­le com­pa­red to his pre­vious home, but he found com­fort in the welco­ming natu­re of the Fin­nish people.

Pro­fes­sio­nal­ly, Tomas spent eight years with Trak­ker Oy, whe­re he was res­pon­sible for sales ope­ra­tions out­si­de the Nor­dic region. Cur­rent­ly he works at Euro­hunt, as a Sales Mana­ger for the Nor­dics, whe­re he enjo­ys the flexi­bi­li­ty of wor­king remo­te­ly from home with occa­sio­nal work trips to visit clients.

Tomas Slesar

Tran­si­tio­ning into the Fin­nish work cul­tu­re, cha­rac­te­rized by a balance of free­dom and res­pon­si­bi­li­ty, was a big cont­rast com­pa­red to the wor­king cul­tu­re in Slo­va­kia, Tomas said. For Tomas, the Fin­nish emp­ha­sis on work-life balance was a reve­la­tion. The flexi­bi­li­ty to prio­ri­tize fami­ly com­mit­ments, such as pic­king up his children from school, shows the sup­por­ti­ve envi­ron­ment fos­te­red by Fin­nish com­pa­nies.

Tomas desc­ri­bed the wor­king cul­tu­re in Fin­land feels like a para­di­se com­pa­red to Eas­tern Euro­pe. Once the job is comple­ted, the­re’s no expec­ta­tion of wor­king after hours, gran­ting indi­vi­duals grea­ter free­dom. Howe­ver, he noted that this free­dom also brings a heigh­te­ned sen­se of res­pon­si­bi­li­ty to per­form efficient­ly.

In cont­rast to the hie­rarc­hical struc­tu­res pre­va­lent in Eas­tern Euro­pean workplaces, Tomas high­ligh­ted that in Fin­land, the­re’s a sen­se of equa­li­ty whe­re eve­ry­one ope­ra­tes on the same level, regard­less of their posi­tion.

“Oulu is a place whe­re hard work meets a high qua­li­ty of life.”

Throug­hout his time in Oulu, Tomas trea­su­res the friends­hips cul­ti­va­ted with his Fin­nish col­lea­gues, overco­ming ini­tial lan­gua­ge bar­riers to dee­pen con­nec­tions that enhanced both his per­so­nal and pro­fes­sio­nal life. Des­pi­te encoun­te­ring hurd­les like adap­ting to the Fin­nish weat­her and pro­lon­ged snow­fall, Tomas embraces the Fin­nish way of life, viewing knowing the Fin­nish lan­gua­ge as a sig­ni­ficant miles­to­ne that impro­ved his living expe­rience and assis­ted him with a smoot­her inte­gra­tion into the com­mu­ni­ty.

Reflec­ting on his jour­ney, Tomas emp­ha­sizes the welco­ming natu­re of the Fin­nish people, no one trying to be bet­ter than the other and the city’s ove­rall expe­rience as his favo­ri­te aspects. He belie­ves that Oulu’s eco­no­my is on an upward tra­jec­to­ry and advoca­tes for com­pa­nies to embrace inter­na­tio­nal talent, viewing diver­si­ty as a source of inno­va­tion rat­her than a threat.

Tomas Slesar

Tomas also encou­ra­ges pros­pec­ti­ve expat­ria­tes to approach their con­si­de­ra­tion to crea­te a life in Fin­land with an open mind. Lear­ning the lan­gua­ge is impor­tant, immer­sing one­self in the cul­tu­re and coming for a visit, and apprecia­ting the robust sup­port sys­tems for fami­lies do help for a success­ful tran­si­tion to life in Oulu.

In Tomas’ eyes, Oulu repre­sents more than just a city — it’s a place whe­re hard work meets a high qua­li­ty of life, especial­ly com­pa­red to Slo­va­kia, whe­re indi­vi­duals are valued for what they cont­ri­bu­te to socie­ty.

Text: Adrian Cana­les