New service for incomers

International Staff Services aims to serve as a clearing house for information on settling down in Helsinki and at the University of Helsinki.

Staff of the ISS The services are based on the co-operation with the units and departments and International Student Services of the University.

"The ISS does not take part in recruitment, but follows up soon afterwards to help the new employee transition as easily as possible", explains supervisor Tiina Kosunen.

Kosunen encourages new employees to contact ISS as soon as they known they are coming.

"Getting in touch early allows us to handle bureaucratic matters well in advance, as finding reasonably priced housing, for example, may prove difficult on short notice."

There are two individuals, Arja Jumpponen and Svetlana Riannel, at the ISS who can help international staff in English, Russian, Swedish and Finnish.

Svetlana Riannel knows what it is like to arrive in Helsinki without speaking a word of Finnish. She experienced this when she moved to Finland from Russia in 1999.

"The first year was difficult. It felt like I didn't understand anything that was going on around me. The language seemed crazy." Riannel, a chemist by training, found work in a University project that studies the DNA of salmon. She resolved to take up the challenge of learning Finnish.

"I was always asking my workmates out for coffee so I could practise my Finnish."

The most important channel for services is the International Staff Services website, which aims to include an all-inclusive guide to arriving and getting settled in Finland as well as links to service providers beneficial to both migrants and authorities.

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Text: Juha Merimaa & Tapani Sainio
Photo: Liisa Huima

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