This entry is part 1 of 11 in the series New life

Chapter 1. June, 24th 2016 – Midsummer holiday

Yes! I am finally a PhD student. Today is a day off in Finlande. We are celebrating midsummer. That means I have time to feast and to write a few lines on what I have been working on since March. On the 25th of February, I was leaving France for Finland. Lost but cheerful, I was following my dream to become a researcher in oceanography and marine biology. The start was not effortless. I had to face up to the Finnish administration system.

The adventures of my acceptance in this country

Unforeseen interruption of my civilian service. I finally made it, I got accepted as a PhD student but this project continues, forever in orange. After being accepted as a PhD student at Åbo Akademi university (Åbo means Turku in Swedish), I thought it would be a piece of cake to get my residence permit. In fact… NO! Unlike the French administration systems that could be stumbling block to your achievement at each steps, the Finnish system is linear. To get your residence permit and your Finnish identification number (be careful, you are on police files), you will need to pass through a few steps tied up to one another. The Finnish identification number is essential. It is associated to as many administrations as possible: health care, bank, tax office, internet… The unique way to access the next step is to pass the previous one. It is smooth like that; you may think you only need to follow the order. Unluckily, you can get stuck at the first step: the registration at the police station. First observation: Several weeks (that’s a short time period) before our arrival (my PhD colleague and I), they moved the registration office to the neighbouring town of Raisio. That had been a manhunt starting between us and the police officers from this department: Raisio. After an unsuccessful trip to the police office of Turku, our bus drove us to Raisio. No need to say that it was as unsuccessful as for Turku. First answer: “You need to come back with an appointment. We are terribly busy with the migrants coming to our country”. Persistent, my colleague and I, tried to get this damn appointment on internet. We, sadly, noticed that we will have to wait one month and a half to get this appointment and even more to be registered in their system. Meaning: no social security, no bank account, higher income taxes… bad start. Our only hope, a little village on the North-West coast: Pori.

Turku - The city where I do my PhD

Turku under the snow. Credits : Pierre Olivier, Ocean Fact.

Funny situation and good start

Waiting for this trip, the tax office kindly provided us a temporary Finnish ID. The weeks goes and after a one-day trip, a five minutes’ interview and fifty euros, our educational asylum application is finally ready to be examined. Waiting again, new adventures. The administration realised their mistake. The ID number is supposed to be composed of your date of birth, mine was not. New battle to get the true number and have it changed at all levels of the administrative pyramid. Second observation: the health care administration has never received the notice for a change in my situation (after two notifications, one from the registration office, one from me). Thus, I received a first KELA card (the Finnish social security card) with the wrong ID number on it. Application for a new card, time for delivery: at least three weeks. In the meantime, I found myself a cosy apartment where to settle for the next years. The snow has started disappearing and the sun has begun to warm the air, the temperature is around 15°C. The end of March is approaching fast and the weather is getting better and better. (Without more detail and for the funny situation, I recently discovered having a third identification number used by the University, everything was already too easy).

Pori harbour - Finland

Trip to Pori. Credits : Pierre Olivier, Ocean Fact.

Younghearted – Tässä Ja Nyt

For you to discover more of this country: one of the local band.

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Pierre PhD student - CEO Ocean Fact
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