Margarita Khartanovich is a PhD candidate in Journalism at the University of Tampere and doing different freelance jobs related to writing, marketing, event management, and teaching. She is also a music journalist contributing to Rolling Stone Russia and Tampere Ambassador.


When I was 22, I moved to Moscow and started working there, first in a PR agency, then as a regional PR manager. I really liked my job, even though I can’t say I was happy in Moscow. During a trip to Norway, I somehow I realized that I enjoyed the European atmosphere much more than the constant tension in the air in my motherland. When I was back home from Bergen, my grandma asked me: “So, what are you going to do now?” I still don’t understand why but without thinking I answered: “I’m going to study in Finland”. My grandma liked the idea, and that was how it all started.

I knew almost nothing about Finland back then. I just liked Finnish rock exported widely to Russia and that was it. I got accepted to two universities and I chose Tampere and at the same time started working as an intern in various companies and organizations. Apart from that, I was volunteer in International Students of Tampere association for five years, and an active music blogger covering Finnish acts for British, German and American online magazines. This experience resulted in my writing for Rolling Stone Russia and interviewing the likes of Marylin Manson, Korn, Deftones, Mastodon, Sick Puppies and Down. I also worked at music festivals as a journalist (Flow, Pori Jazz, Blockfest, Tammerfest,…).

I’m happy in Finland. I like that people respect my private space here, that they follow the rules, that “a small person” is important here with however small problems he or she has – it’s the government for people by default. What I actually needed was time and space. In Russia I always felt the pressure that I had to do something only because it is thought so in the society. You are not important, you are just a part of a big thing – a messed up ruin of an empire. I like that it is safe here, that you can trust people. I like it that they hate small talks as I hate them too with all my heart. I’m a total introvert – I need time to recover from communication. I like it that I can talk only if I want to talk and have something important to say. I like that I can sit in the bus and no one will sit next to me instead of being squeezed into the subway train like in Moscow. I like that when I lose my bus card, someone finds it and returns it to the bus company for me to have it back. I like it that I can go anywhere by bike and reach my destination within 10-20 minutes or walk and be there in 30 minutes. I like it that I live near the most beautiful lake in the world – Näsijärvi - and take long walks around it. I like it that in student accommodation, I have a room of my own instead of sharing a room with two or more girls like in Russia.

My cultural shock was that I could finally relax and switch off my alert mode. I could just enjoy simple things in life. I could be myself without caring for a status, brands, if I wear heels and make-up or not, if I’m single with 24 years, if I graduate in two years or five. I think I have, in my own way though, not turned into a Finn but rather found my own place in the society, gaining respect and bringing value to the country. I strongly believe those are the key factors to successfully integrate into Finnish society. It’s not about where you come from, it’s about where you belong!