perjantai 1. kesäkuuta 2018

Networking in the USA

Networking in the United States is pretty serious business! At UCLA Law we had at least 4 different events where they taught us about the culture of networking and how to network. The do's and do not's. I can't say that I am an expert on this issue, so I won't give any precise tips on it. I can tell you the some fun places and events this networking has taken me during the year. People use networking for getting jobs and such. For me its more about getting to know interesting people and being open to new adventures and opportunities!

I attended my first Fulbright event at UCLA. This was the alumni reception where they made many toasts and speeches about the impact of Fulbright and where you got to meet with the other Fulbrighters. At this event I met Mr. Richard J. Frank who has applied to be a Fulbrighter in Finland. He was very interested in the Finnish culture and everything relating to Finland and its world famous education system. During this time my husband was waiting for his work visa and started to apply for jobs. Richard was very very helpful in giving tips about the culture (for example when to send a thank you note after an interview and all that which was very unfamiliar to us). He also introduced me to Lotta, a Finnish Fulbrighter also studying in Los Angeles.

After the event I send Richard an email saying how his tips were very helpful etc. This is something I learned from one of the UCLA infos. Always follow up with people you have met and who you would like to connect at some later point. Whether for career purposes or not.

Richard did not only reply but he invited me, my husband and Lotta to his home in the Hollywood hills for a BBQ evening! He invited his neighbors too and we ended having a very fun evening with all of them. All of whom were very successful professionals from very different fields. It was great to hear their stories too!

Another time when my networking turned out to a very interesting and fun opportunity was at one of the UCLA events. Me and my friend went to talk with different people and one of them turned out to be one of the studio executives. He invited me and my friend for a tour at the studio and we of course said "yes" and had a fun afternoon at the studio! He also gave us valuable insight about the career of an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles.

At first I didn't really enjoy the networking part of the US culture. In Finland we don't do this to this extend. In the US people are more open to new things and meeting new people (in general) so this goes very well with the culture here. Just have fun with it and meet new people! If it happens to lead to something - great! If not, just enjoy the conversations with new people.

- S - 

torstai 24. toukokuuta 2018

Fulbright Gateway orientation

We arrived in Los Angeles in July 2017 with my husband. Almost immediately I flew to Indianapolis, Indiana to my first Fulbright event in the United States. I had done my googling for the event, but I really did not know what to expect. This event turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had in my life :)

When you receive a Fulbright award, you become a part of this bigger world that you may not have know that even existed. All of these people have Fulbright as a combining factor and its sort of a home away from home. Sort of like a sorority or something.

Spouses were not allowed to the event (which was great because we were all forced to get out of our comfort zone :D). We stayed at a 4 star hotel in downtown Indianapolis and I got paired up with the most lovely roommate from Algeria. We both came from very different backgrounds and we had the most amazing time talking all night about our religions, habits and cultures in every way. Also during dinners and other events, I got to talk with people from many different countries and cultures and we definitely talked about eeeeverything! One of the main things about the fellow Fulbrighters that I really enjoyed is that everyone really respects each others cultures. No one is better or worse in their habits than the other - just different. I think this respect that we all have for each other made people comfortable to open up about their life on a deeper level.

There is always the pressure to represent your own country the best way possible. (After the first day I totally understood why they asked me in the Fulbright interview about what I would tell about Finland :D :D I answered this question during that week about 50 times - and this time I was prepared!)

All and all the week was very well organized by Fulbright and the IIE (Institute of International Education) - thank you again! We received very useful information about the culture in the United States and many other things that prepared us for the upcoming studies.

If you receive a Fulbright scholarship - I highly recommend attending one of these seminars! And if you are thinking about the benefits you would get with Fulbright - this is a major one for me.

I am still part of a WhatsApp group with people from 40 different countries currently located all over the United States. If - and when - I visit one of these countries I will definitely write in that group about it :)

- S -

keskiviikko 31. tammikuuta 2018

Tips for moving abroad

Moving to another country takes a lot of preparation. Of course you are so exited that you can do anything when you get to live your dreams (meaning packing your apartment every night until 4 am for a week before taking off 😅).

Here are my best tips for moving abroad wherever you relocate.

1. Downsize, downsize, downsize!
For me one of the important things was downsizing. In Finland, Marie Kondo's book the Konmari, is a super hit. Thankfully one of my friends introduced me to this amazing book about six months before our move. The book is all about minimalism in a sense that you go through all your stuff in certain order and get rid of things that don't "spark joy" to you. I went through alllll our stuff with the Konmari method and got rid of a bunch of stuff! I strongly recommend reading this book. Not only it helps you organize your stuff in your home country, but also when you arrive you have a better sense about what you need for your apartment and in your life.

2. Sell and donate your stuff
After the "Konmarying" I sold my stuff at a flea market. They have these places where you can rent a table, price your stuff and leave it there for people to buy it. I had the table for 8 weeks and made enough money for our plane tickets to U.S. :) The things that were left, I donated to the Red Cross.

3. Organize your paperwork
Obviously moving to the U.S requires a lot of paper work just for the VISA interview at the Embassy. Even beyond this, make sure you have one good file with everything you can possibly need. This means bank statements, birth certificate, tax statements, employment certificates, marriage certificate, good driver proof from the DMV... etc etc in English. In the U.S the paperwork they ask in the most random situations can be astounding! For example when we rented our apartment I think I gave more paperwork than at the embassy (you have no credit score in U.S if you are a new resident).

4. Count a realistic budget
In my opinion this was one of the hardest ones. We did this and to be honest - we completely failed with this one! Do extensive research on rent prices, electricity, cell phones, internet, cable, gas, food etc. I think the biggest mistake we did was on the rent price. We looked apartments in Los Angeles for weeks and weeks before moving. We did have a number in mind that what would be our budget. We chose the area where we want to live and immediately after arriving started the apartment hunting. Well...turns out that our price point was way off. You couldn't get a decent apartment with that price. Also the area we were looking at was "only" 8 miles away (15km). Turns out what in LA traffic that can mean 2 hours one way to UCLA. So obviously we had to change the plan and with that the price point.

5. Plan your packing
This is another one that we kinda screwed up :D For example - where is my iPod? I would need it all the time. Also my husband didn't pack all of his suits - why? So the bad packing leads to unnecessary shopping and of course you spend more money. Just really plan what you are going to pack. I think we started packing the suitcases like three days before and I thought that we did good. Until I started noticing these everyday things that I for some reason forgot to take with me.

6. Network
The wonderful world of facebook! I joined many facebook pages before leaving to the states. For example there are at least 5 different Finnish-American/LA groups that are filled with super helpful people. I wrote in one of these a question about how to find affordable housing (after we noticed the budget didn't really work) and I got the best advice (basically to find an area/street you like and just walk in to the building and asks for available apartments - this is how we found ours). Also I found many helpful LA women groups that helped me with what clothes I should bring.

7. Plan to have enough of time for the basic things
This one is especially for people moving to the U.S. Everything takes much much more time than in Europe! For example, when you arrive and you want to open a bank account, get social security number, buy insurance, get utilities etc. Each one of these pretty much takes half a day. People especially in California are in no hurry (which is what I personally kinda like here). I would say prepare at least 1.5 weeks for the basic stuff. Luckily for me my husband didn't start working right away so he could do these as a "full time job" for the first 2 weeks.

8. Throw a party 😋
Im dead serious about this one! Everyone wants to see you for one last time before you leave and when you are dealing with all the preparations, the last thing you have is time to go see everyone one by one. This is why we threw 3 parties before we left. Not only is it fun to relax a little and take a break from all the travel planning, but during those parties (ladies night, guys night and family brunch) you have said alllll of the goodbyes!

- S -

sunnuntai 21. tammikuuta 2018

The Beginning

So many exciting things are happening in my life that I want to share this with the world! Everything started around May 2016...

May is the application deadline for the Finnish ASLA-Fulbright graduate student grant for studies in the United States. For years I had been following these grants on the Finnish Fulbright site. I felt like it was never a good time in my career to leave to the States, but this time me and my husband decided to finally make time for this dream. After hours and hours of perfecting the application for the scholarship and requesting recommendations letters, researching the universities etc., I was finally ready to send my application to the Fulbright Finland Center. After few months I found myself sitting at the Fulbright office conference room with six people interviewing me about the possible grant (I have never been more nervous than for this interview!). A couple of months later I found out that I had been selected as a Fulbright grantee for the academic year 2017-2018!

During the year Fulbright organized very useful info sessions for applying to the universities with all around packages of information on everything from culture, housing, financial aid etc. We had opportunities to talk with the Alumni who have already returned to Finland and ask everyday life questions. These information sessions made the following application process much easier.

I had done my due diligence very carefully about the Fulbright organization and I was very eager to be part of the program. But, I have to admit - I still didn't quite comprehend the magnitude of the award until I was sitting at the Award Ceremony in Helsinki City Hall. The marching band type orchestra started the show and many powerful politicians attended the event telling more and more powerful stories about Fulbright. This is when I felt that I fully understood the power of the Fulbright status.

After I had initially received the award, the time became to apply for the universities. The grant itself doesn't guarantee a spot at a university so this was a really stressful time. I decided to keep the award secret until I had locked down one of the universities on my list. I had a list of 15 universities and after applying to the first four, I got the acceptances from these! I was lucky that I only had to apply to these four (its just as big process as the Fulbright application - if not even bigger). After careful consideration I chose the University of California Los Angeles School of Law.

Now I am done with first semester at UCLA and I can safely say that I made the perfect decision! I will post about my Fulbright year and beyond on this site. Stay tuned :)

- S -