My name is Pingshan Hu-Pentikäinen and I'm originally from Beijing, China. This is my 20th year living in Finland. Life for most people at my age (44) seems to get less exciting because there are not many changes in work and family life. But for me, my second life just started!
Three years ago in spring, I was fired from a Finnish company where I was working as a sales manager. At that time the company was not running as expected and I was the only one kicked out. One day at noon when the CEO sadly informed me of the decision, I thanked him first and then happily told him that I was going to an interview with Finnair in few hours. In June, I started a new career: flight attendant at Finnair and this job was never planned in my life. I was 41 that year and my life totally changed after that!
The biggest change in my life is my shape. Due to my irregular working hours and heavy workload, I gained lots of weight a year after when I changed companies to Norwegian. I started body training systematically and a few months later, I found myself a personal trainer. I go to the gym three times a week and in addition to that, I also run often. All the efforts started to pay back 6 months later. Today my body is much more fit than before, and the healthy lifestyle brought me lots of energy and happiness, which made me more confident than ever!
Among the hundred and fifty cabin crew, I am the only one originally from China working in Norwegian's Helsinki base. All of the others are Finns or Estonian. I am very proud of myself that I can become part of it. Different cultures, ways of working, and thinking had created some challenges in the beginning, but very soon I found my way and was accepted by all. For instance, overseas Chinese are not willing to share personal life with foreigners at work. We are not good at talking about daily small issues with anyone because we prefer to do it only with close friends. In Finland, I found Finns are very talkative and they are very good at small talk. They always have some topics and views on their mind that they can freely and courageously share with others. I have had many good and cheerful times at work with Finnish people of different ages; they are nice, mature, funny, easy-going, and warmhearted. They are just like my family members and I feel very close to them.
For most of foreigners living in Finland, life is definitely not easy. Winter is cold and dark, and people are independent and straightforward. I was a student 20 years ago when I came to Finland. Since then, I have been doing all kinds of jobs in order to support my living here. Only until 3 years ago when I changed my career, my life started to get stable, but before that: no summer holidays, all the time with a temporary work agreement, and also my Finnish has been always at a basic level. After practicing it every day at work, it has been improved so much nowadays that I can use it freely for daily issues.
Life is full of opportunities and surprises; they pop in to us no matter who we are and how old we are. If you have the feeling like you should do something new or to change your situation, you should give a try. A small change can make you very happy afterwards, but you don't realize it until you have done it! Also, in the last 20 years I have heard lots of complaints about Finnish people and Finland: they are too quiet, they don’t speak, they are very cold… trust me, it is all wrong! You should first look at yourself and position your attitude, don’t be afraid to show yourself in front of anyone. Be happy, be free, and be normal - this kind of person will be everywhere popular. Finns are extremely good at observing others and they look at small details. Foreigners need to take this into consideration as well when we come into contact with Finns.