Indian Family in Finland

Jul 24, 2020
Multiculturalism Family Life


The Family: The Father and the Mother are from India and have together a 16 years old son. They have been living in Finland for the last 6 years.


Advantages

Multilingual at Home

The mother explained the different languages the family speaks at home expect of the Finnish language. “India is a multicultural and multilingual country. Therefore, we are used to speak at least three languages even at home. My mother tongue is Marathi, and the national language is Hindi. The English language is widely used all over the country. We have lived in different states therefore we have picked up languages of those states as well. They are easy to learn as they have some similarities with other Indian languages”.

The Good side of Finland

The health care system and free education for all is one of the highlights for me. Free and easily accessible health care system is unheard of in India”.

In general, the Finnish people are curious about the Indian culture and want to know more about it. They respect hard work and well-educated people. Since there is a demand for Indian food, there are Indian restaurants at many places and it’s good to go out and have traditional food occasionally”.

We have slowly but surely adapted and acclimatized to the weather, the norms followed in public places and begun to appreciate its pros. The neighbours are friendly although we rarely talk. Greeting and smiling when passing each other is one thing that I absolutely love about people here. Almost everyone understands English, so it is fairly easy to survive in this cold country”.

I am able to wear Indian clothes at work, in public places without any discomfort. People have become used to seeing Indians wear their own traditional clothes and generally give appreciating glances rather than gawking”.

To conclude, “I believe Finland is a fairly good country for immigrants and foreigners as we are free to practice our religions and traditions, English language is spoken by most of the people and it is starting to accept and appreciate different cultures”. 

Ganesh festival which is celebrated for 5 days every August and September 

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"Best thing about Finland is the forest"

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Challenges

The Finnish Language 

Regarding the Finnish language, the mother stated that the language is vastly different and difficult. “Finnish is altogether another matter. It is very different and a difficult language. My husband does not speak Finnish at all. My child has been studying in an international school, so his Finnish language skills are pretty basic. I can make decent conversations in Finnish but am slightly apprehensive when speaking it in official situations”.

The mother referred to the bright side as, “It is a good thing that the Finnish government helps foreigners integrate into the society by teaching them the language and about the culture. I have gained immensely from such courses”.

Although the help of the Finnish courses, there is still a language barrier that affected the mother’s life, “I have a higher qualification from India, but due to the language factor I have not been able to land a job of my liking and qualification. I am still trying to improve the language skills and get a good paying job”.


Culture Differences concerning Child Upbringing

The mother pointed out the dissimilar norms regarding raising a child followed in Finland and in India:

We strictly follow the Indian traditions and beliefs at home. We are practicing Hindus but consider ourselves liberal enough to appreciate and recognize other cultures as well. We have lived in Canada and Germany before moving to Finland. It was a different experience in both these countries”.

Child upbringing is the most important thing for Indian families. There is a vast difference in the norms followed in Finland and in India. Being disciplined is one of them. We love the children as much as we want them to be disciplined and be respectful to elders. Studies are very important as well”.

“I have had a weird experience when the teacher made a child welfare notification because we were wanting our boy to do well in school and get good grades. They thought we were pressurizing the child. This was done without even once talking about it with us or taking up the issue with us. We were surprised and it was something that didn’t go well with us”.

The good thing was the social workers were extremely cooperative, knew a little about our culture, were willing to know more about family life and expectations from children in India and listened to our views, understood our reasons behind the gentle prodding to the child and dismissed the whole thing. Although it was a stressful situation, we are thankful that the authorities give due attention to the well-being of the children and are concerned for their mental and physical health. We had a discussion with other families (non-Finnish) and they had similar stories to tell”.

I hope this is not some kind of discrimination against the foreigners and they pay more attention to all children and take up more grave issues concerning Finnish families as well”.


Food & Social Difficulties

The mother described the challenges the family has regarding food and social life.

My husband is very picky about food and carries home cooked food to work. He has Indian colleagues and they eat lunch together. Being vegetarians there is very few options available at workplaces and sometimes it becomes a problem for all of us. We are trying to adjust to this fact”.

Social life is many times restricted to the Indian community only. We all have friends from the workplace, but it is restricted only for work. I have not found many Finnish friends wanting to socialize with us on holidays or weekends as a family. But some of them have been interested in Indian food and culture. Therefore, interaction other than work or school with Finnish people is very less”.

In addition, the mother said that she never personally faced racism, but her son has faced it on public transport.


Best Advice

‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’

It is important to follow your own customs, but it is beneficial if one behaves in accordance with the Finnish cultural norms in public places. People appreciate the fact and are more welcoming and tolerating towards us”

Find your Safe net and Integrate

Family is very important in a foreign country to maintain and follow your own culture and they are your own cocoon where you find safety and love. If not Finnish friends, have a small but trustworthy friend circle who will help you in need. Ask for help when needed. There is no need to live in isolation. Take part in Finnish celebrations and programs to be able to integrate better in the society

Written by: Dana

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