The New Normal in Tampere

By Lauren Stevens

I’m worried about my family in Britain. My grandmother doesn’t have the best health. My mum is a self-employed seamstress but now she’s out of work and is looking for a new job, which isn’t very easy as she’s almost 60.

The coronavirus situation doesn’t seem to be as strict here in Finland as it is in Britain. At one point, the Finnish government restricted people going to and from Helsinki as most of the coronavirus cases are there.

It’s amazing how people have managed to adapt to the coronavirus situation. My Finnish wife is a preschool headteacher and she’s been able to do a lot of admin work from home that she doesn’t normally have time for. She has also made her own worksheets and videos to provide the children at home with activities. I especially like how she tries to use (and recycle!) everyday objects or suggests alternatives that most people have at home so that the parents won’t have to go out and buy anything extra. She’s been quite stressed recently because Finnish government decided to reopen schools today (14th May). The preparations have been a lot of extra work for teachers, which doesn’t seem to make much sense as the schools in Finland will close again for the school holidays in two weeks’ time!

I’ve been living in Finland for five years. I moved here to be with my wife and study a Master’s degree in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research at Tampere University. I’ve sent around 500 job applications and attended 6 interviews since I graduated last June.

First, I struggled to find a job because of Brexit, and when my Finnish (and EU) citizenship application was finally accepted at the beginning of March, then the coronavirus pandemic situation started to deteriorate, so I feel that I’ve been quite unlucky. Job seeking is a bit difficult at the moment because most recruitment processes are frozen.

I had some transcribing work in January, but the project was postponed because of the coronavirus, so I went back to full-time job seeking. I was working with confidential information, so I couldn’t work from home. I have had some freelance proofreading work, though. Luckily, I got a part-time job offer as a Research Assistant at Tampere University for a project about homelessness.

I had an interview in January, but I was the second option. Perhaps the person who was the first option resigned because of the coronavirus or because they found a full-time job, but that worked out in my favour anyway. It started in April and I’ve been working remotely from home. It isn’t ideal because it’s part-time and the contract is until the end of next year, but it’s a foot in the door so I’m happy about that. I’ve been multitasking between that, freelance proofreading, and some occasional work from my previous job whilst I continue to search for a full-time job related to my education.

This week, I got a full-time job offer at the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki. I will work remotely until further notice. Unfortunately, as the contract is only for two weeks, it would feel a bit risky to leave my part-time job at Tampere University.

Therefore, I’m going to try to do both jobs at least until the end of May. ECHA said it’s very likely that it my contract will be extended until August, they just can’t say the exact dates yet because it’s maternity cover, which seems a little odd. ∎


circle-cropped (2)Lauren Stevens is from Reading, Britain, and currently lives in Tampere, Finland. Her interests are international development cooperation, environmental sustainability, culture, languages, travel, and photography. Read more of Lauren’s works here.

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