Mostafa Morsi is a 24-year-old Egyptian who has been living in Finland for around six years. He has experienced everything from studying, working and travelling around Europe as an exchange student. His friendship with a Finnish family has given him the opportunity to embrace the Finnish way of life.
What are you doing in Finland?
I originally came to Ylivieska as a 19-year-old student at Centria University of Applied Sciences. I just recently received my bachelor’s diploma, so that goal has been achieved. I have also been working during my studies.
How did you end up in Finland?
Before coming to Finland, I was studying nuclear physics at Alexandria University. I did not like studying there and I was not optimistic about receiving employment chances after graduation. I told myself that I could try my luck elsewhere in the world. I was first planning to study in Sweden; however, I didn’t get a placement. I knew a Finnish family who suggested that I pursue my studies in Finland where education is free and good. I didn’t even have time to think if I am doing the right thing, I just found myself in the middle of nowhere, in a small town surrounded by snow.
What was you first impression when you arrived to the town?
Really really cold! It was 27 degrees in Alexandria and it was also 27 degrees in Ylivieska, but of course below zero. I thought that this town is dead, nothing is happening here. Obviously, I couldn’t take the cold and darkness; from where I came from, it seemed a little bit too weird.
How long did it take to get integrated into Finnish society?
I was lucky in Ylivieska there were no Arabs or Egyptians, so I had to integrate myself somehow. Normally, when foreigners arrive to Finland, they are concentrated in the Helsinki region and what they do is look for people who come from their home country or at least speak their native language. I thought to myself I have to get to know the people and the country that I live in.
Was it difficult to learn the Finnish language?
Well it is definitely one of the hardest languages to learn, but I didn’t study it. I just heard people talking and I repeated what they said. I had to get by with what I know and in time it got better. Little by little you can build on what you can know and start learning new words. When I had free time, I really liked visiting the Finnish family I know who lived near Loimaa because I had to communicate in Finnish with the little kids and other people in the village because they didn’t speak any English.
What were your worries when you came to Finland? And do you still have these worries?
When I arrived to Finland I was 19, so pretty young. I haven’t been anywhere else outside Egypt before. Back then all my worries were about survival, I had to check my bank account all the time. I started to contact sawmills for a job because I was very interested in the forest. It went amazingly easy, I applied to one place and I immediately got a phone call the very next day to come for an interview. I think these worries, nowadays, are almost gone. I don’t feel the urge to check my bank account everyday.
You told me that you have recently moved to Helsinki. How is it like living here?
I like it here; there are more people and more happenings. However, services in smaller towns are much quicker. I come from Alexandria, there are around 6 million there, so I feel like home in a bigger city.
What are your futures wishes for your life here?
Well, very tricky question. I don’t normally have big wishes but I hope life goes as smooth as possible, get a new job soon, get more integrated in Finnish society and speak better Finnish.
What is your favorite Finnish word?
I think my favourite Finnish word is Pohjanmaan kautta which means ‘bottoms up’. Only people from the Pohjanmaa area in Finland say it before they start drinking. I do like the word; I don’t know why, but it just sounds funny.