Expat’s Insights – Jan Pacesa
Jan Pacesa moved to Finland in August 2015 from Slovakia. Even before the move he had already had an idea of working abroad, gaining new experiences, and stepping outside his comfort zone. “International experience would certainly be of use in the future and it would help prepare for the changes ever-present in worklife”, Jan thought. Therefore Jan began to look for opportunities outside of his home country; Finland was at the top of the list, as he had visited Finland before on vacation and had fallen in love with the country. Now Jan works in Porvoo for Neste Jacobs as an application engineer. He lives in Helsinki, and commutes are easy thanks to the bus transport offered by his employer.
Jan hasn’t experienced severe culture shocks, because life in Slovakia and Finland is very similar. According to him there aren’t many cultural differences between the two. Immediately after the move there were some challenges with his new work and settling in, but “Thanks to Finland Relocation the pieces fell together nicely. Professional help in looking for an apartment, registration and local orientation were a big help in the beginning. It’s also very nice to have language training offered by the employer.”
In the beginning he was tired in the evenings after learning new things all day and the inevitable strain of moving, but within a few weeks he had gotten used to his new responsibilities and obligations both at and outside of work. Jan was positively surprised that everything related to the move was taken care of in 1,5 days and none of his time was wasted. “There were quite a few forms to fill in those 1,5 days, but despite that the registrations and official matters were taken care of very quickly!”
When we asked Jan about his three most favorite experiences while living in Finland, the first thing in his mind was visiting his friend’s summer cottage. “It was a fantastic experience! Going to the sauna, swimming in the lake, and barbequing were really the best things about that weekend. Other than that, its easy to go to the stores. You can get by with English everywhere. People, especially my colleagues, have been very helpful and offered their assistance whenever I’ve needed it.”
Jan hasn’t run into big surprises during his first months in Finland, because he had already visited Finland four times before moving here and because he had read up on Finland extensively. “My first interest in Finland came about in 2011 in the Bratislava ice hockey world championships where I met some Finnish hockey fans. Also, this summer has been very pleasant, since it continued long into August and the temperatures were almost the same as back home”.
Jan had begun studying Finnish in Slovakia before his move and now has employer organized Finnish classes once per week. He also studies Finnish by himself on his free time. “It is very important to learn a country’s language and understand the local culture and customs. This makes it much easier to integrate into the local lifestyle” he says.
Although Jan already had a couple of Finnish friends before his move, his goal is to be socially active and expand his circle of friends. There are several groups for foreigners to meet and socialize in Helsinki that organize events and activities, so it is easy to find other expats to befriend. Finns on the other hand take a little more work.
Jan enjoys his current work immensely and plans to stay in Finland for a long time. He thinks that Finns should be proud of their modern and equal country, their clean nature, and their technologically advanced society.