“I think everybody can find friends here”

Woman with a boat

Maja Terning is from Tromsø in Northern Norway. She has been living here in Oulu for 16 years now, and working with BusinessOulu for about eight years.

Who

My name is Maja Terning, I‘m from Northern Norway – Tromsø. It‘s about 800 kilometres north of Oulu. I’m 36, and I’ve been living here for 16 years now. I think I have integrated quickly in the Finnish society.

What have you done in Oulu

I studied Finnish in the courses for people who’ve just moved to Oulu for about one and a half years. Then I studied a Bachelor’s in Business Administration at the University of Applied Sciences (OAMK) in Oulu.

As I had learned Finnish, I got to practise my Finnish at the university, although the degree was in English. Half my class was from other countries, so I was a sort of link in between. I was a bit integrated already and could speak the language, but I was also a foreigner. It was nice to have both worlds.

I liked that you got to be quite close to what’s happening in Oulu, and I took part in everything possible, such as competitions and business plan meetings. I remember there was a design competition for the airport aimed at getting some ideas when they were rebuilding it. It was nice to do things other than just studying, as participating in business idea competitions.

Building a network is the most important thing to get to know companies and organisations, and through that you could get a job. Small contacts and touchpoints that you realise later maybe had some effect on where you went afterwards.

Woman at BusinessAsema

What

I’ve been working with BusinessOulu for eight years and I joined it straight after my studies. I had an internship first and then I started working with them. I had a summer job related to the Norwegian region, which was my first job while I was still studying.
It just took a month or two before I was hired after my internship. It was a nice and easy track to get into working and my first full-time work experience was here.

I love working life in Finland. I liked studying, but I like working and doing what I studied to do. And I have a nice team; we have become really good friends, which has been very nice. I think it is important for foreigners to also find friends either through study, hobbies or work.

First meeting with Oulu

I’d been to Oulu a few times, including when I was a child. For us in Northern Norway, Oulu is a place you go to when you want sun and you don’t want to travel to Spain, for instance. If you go to Nallikari Beach or the city centre in the summertime, you will hear Norwegians everywhere.

Coming from Northern Norway, what I like the most is the summer, because you actually have a summer here and sand beaches.

Where

I have two girls, and a lot of my spare time here goes to their hobby, which is football. It is driving back and forth every day. And I’ve had my own hobbies. I was in the circus here and I ended up doing air acrobatics.

When I don’t have my girls at my place, then I´m in Norway, where my boyfriend lives, and I take a lot of work trips. I‘m kind of living in two places right now. I have a sort of second home in Tromsø.

I will live in Oulu for at least 10 or 15 years more, probably. I have my kids here, and they have school and their football team. I have my work, and this job is great because I get to have both Norway and Oulu in my work.

Also the fact that you can cycle everywhere. I think the most shocking thing for me is navigating Oulu. It’s so flat, and I’m used to having mountains to navigate from in Norway, so I’m always lost. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve lived here!

I think Oulu is just like in every country: you have people who are outgoing, people who are quieter and people who are friendly and want to get to know you. I guess Finns are a bit quieter than Norwegians and a little more reserved, but not everybody. So there‘s a difference but not a huge difference.

I think in everything, people meet people. Person-to-person meetings are the most important for finding a job and having a good life by finding friends. If you don‘t know anybody, I would say to go to every event possible. Now that events are coming back, that’s a really good arena to find both jobs, study places or tips. There are also a lot of different hobbies you can do on every level and with everything, and that’s also how I’ve found friends and networked.

My entire adult life has been here, and I still don’t feel like an adult! I think that‘s really good. You get to be creative and you’ll find people who fit your values who are similar to yourself – if you just seek out those places.

I think everybody can find friends here. I’ve also been a foreigner who didn´t know anybody. So, yes, you can do it!

This article was originally published at oulutalenthub.fi

Oulu Talent Hub

Talent stories you may be interested in:

The incredible journey of Chiara Bosetti

Gökhan Depo: “I know that in Oulu, I can trust people”

Débora Oliveira: “During my first walks in Oulu, I felt like I was in a fairy tale”

Doris Yue believes her dreams will come true in Oulu

Junnaid Iqbal: ”You must come to Oulu with an open mind and a big smile”

Tamara Louis: “Oulu is a perfect environment for families”

Sharmin Farah: “Northern Lights – the best thing to experience while living in Oulu”

Viktors Sobolevs: “If you want to work in Oulu, believe in yourself and push hard”

Kiran Pandit: ”Oulu is a helpful place for international students, and people are nice”