Today I feel irate, so I take to the internet for some venting. Let’s get some background info: ever since Mike and I have been back in Finland I’ve been pretty depressed. This is not new, as I’ve been so since I was 14 – old hat, first world problems, existential woe etc etc. However things have gone so downhill that my ability to function is lowered itself to a level where I’ve so far quit about two jobs as I was miserable and exhausted in them and at the moment working only part-time hours whilst ‘seeing people’ for these woes. Whilst I like to contribute my woes usually to my inability to deal with life events, feelings and negative emotions in a constructive manner, today I woke up just feeling angry. My anger condensed itself down to a shining resentment diamond representing the clarity I suddenly have about one thing: it brings a man (woman/ prefer not to say) down to not be appreciated. I’ve just now (the cogs they turn, slow) realised how big an effect a lack of recognition of skills can be. Let me explain further, and tell you that this sobstory does not concern but me…I sorta feel this is an issue this country needs to address for others like me too.
I left Finland a year after finishing high school. In the year I completed a lower college course (HNC level) in Communication and Journalism. However all my Higher Education I completed in Scotland. I have an HND in Sociology/Media studies, a Master of Arts (Hons) in Philosophy and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Community Learning and Development. Before I came over to Finland I was working in HE – at the University I completed my MA/PGDip at. Today I am a personal assistant (ie lowest level care worker) – a job I am grossly overqualified for. There is a discrepancy partly caused by the fact that a lot of the jobs I am in the eyes of the UK qualified to do (social education-y, community work-y, youth work-y stuff…) in Finland require a qualification from a Finnish Applied Sciences University (or AMK in Finnish). In fact, at a couple of interviews I have been invited to (did not get the job, quelle surprise!), the interviewer has recommended I apply to a Finnish institution and get a local qualification.
Here I was thinking spending almost 10 years abroad was an asset. Here I was thinking the fact that I pursued studies in a country I didn’t know anybody in (actually, the first time I visited the UK was when I arrived to start my studies in September 2002), and independently established myself as a productive, functioning member of that society (ie working and paying taxes, volunteering and doing other stuff to intergrate myself) was kinda cool. Here I was thinking that getting a 1st in a Continental Philosophy Dissertation in a language that wasn’t my first, or to be thought of as a local after becoming so fluent in English that I could totally get away with being ‘Scottish’, was sorta neat. Apparently not so. Extensive voluntary and paid experience in mental health work, community work, working with young people, people with a wide range of disabilities means little cos I can’t add ‘Sosionomi AMK’ after my name, or a similar Finnish title. Makes you feel a bit disheartened. I sure was, perhaps more than I realised before today. I’m prone to thinking very little of myself anyway, and I feel the last 8 months or so in this country have done no good for how I feel about my abilities. Of course, as you are the hero of your own life, you have the power to change and other self-help phrases ad infinitum, I don’t want to blame ‘the system’ about sinking into a bluer place…but it is what has happened to me.
The government offers an option where you can undertake a process to get your foreign qualification recognised in Finland. The process currently takes around 3-4 months to complete from sending in the forms, costs 238 €, and there is no guarantee, of course, of its success. So far, out of principle, I have refused to fork out such money, as I think the system is discriminatory and I shouldn’t be the one to pay, but my principles are fading in time….the form is sitting on my desk, half-filled in. Maybe I’ll send it off someday soon.
What bugs me a lot about all of this though takes me back to early 2012, when, in my last job in Scotland, I was reading through and provisionally scoring applications to said University from Finnish applicants. Bearing in mind it is not the biggest or most famous University in Scotland, the amount of applications (over a hundred), was impressive. Some of those who had applied had the correct grades and/or experience and therefore had a chance of getting in. What then becomes of these kids? They will get the exciting opportunity to study abroad for a degree. They’ll grow in worldliness and as people, which is all very good and recommendable in my opinion. But if they choose to come back to Finland to work, how will they fare? Kids are pushed abroad by establishing internationally-minded high schools here there and everywhere in this country…yet when these kids want to return and give back what they’ve learned on their world tour, the doors start closing. I bet they don’t all realise how hard it can be to return when they’re bubbling with the excitement of leaving their small home town for London, Edinburgh, Dublin etc. My irateness I guess is combined with concern for these younglings.
I’ll work it out…anger and annoyance is a good thing. In fact, feeling any sort of feeling is a good thing. Evenings are getting less and less dark, I am growing in energy slowly, and soon I hope to pursue what I believe belongs to me – a job that employs my skills and experience and makes me feel good about myself and the work I do. I hope there will more discourse on the issue of acceptance of foreign qualifications in Finland, and I hope the system will change. Maybe someone will write a well-researched article on this…my ramblings here for sure are incoherent. Perhaps to be continued some day, stay tuneage