Talent Stories: Patricia Calzado

Teacher during the academic year, customer service professional during the summer:

”I have perhaps always been a kind of an adventurer, meaning I gain a lot of energy from new people and situations. It keeps me alive, you know.”

Patricia Calzado, 29, moved to Finland from Spain eight years ago. She was born in Cordova and lived in Murcia on the Mediterranean coast for twelve years. Calzado completed a bachelor’s degree in French translation and interpretation studies and combined her university studies with violin studies she did at Murcia’s Music Conservatory. Nowadays she lives in Joensuu and studies early language education in intercultural communication at the University of Eastern Finland.  Her studies are nearing their finale, but Carzado’s master’s thesis has been a little stuck.

”I write about how music and a foreign language can work together in the development of children’s multiculturalism and multilingualism. Both music and languages are near and dear to me. What I study is how music and language teaching come together in schools now and what could be done in the future.”

So how did Calzado end up in Finland, specifically Joensuu? Her brother had previously been a transfer student at the Lappeenranta Music Institute, and through him, Calzado got to know his Finnish host family. She has always been enthusiastic about studying languages and cultures and wanted to go study in another country with an Erasmus grant. Another factor was that despite her best efforts she had not been able to find work in Spain by the time she was 20.

”I feel like I’m more useful and valued here, and people want me to work. It’s really hard to find a job in Spain. For example, stores have long hours and very low pay. Unless you have seven or more years of work experience, employers won’t risk hiring a new employee.”

Calzado only got her first job after moving to Helsinki, where she organized language clubs for studying French and Spanish. Running language courses gave her the spark to begin studying to become a teacher. Calzado visited Joensuu a year before moving. At the time, it was autumn and dark all over, but that did not faze her.

I thought then that Joensuu is a compact and convenient city. The darkness of the winter never stopped me.”

According to her, size is the best thing about the city of Joensuu – even without a car it is easy to meet people and get around. She has never experienced racism. Moreover, she is delighted by the proximity of nature and the course selection at the community college.

”When I moved to Joensuu, I thought that I want to try and learn something new. I started a printmaking course in Pekkala. We have a very nice group of women there, and it’s always really great to go there, create art and talk about life. It’s a shame that those courses have been cancelled during the pandemic, but when I got to go there, it was the kind of meditative time I had all to myself.”

Calzado’s life has alternated between her teaching job during the academic year and her summer job as a customer servant ever since she moved into Finland. Last summer she worked at Jokiasema. She got to know Joensuu Employment Services through a friend who worked at Ohjaamo. She also had friends who had previously used Luotsi’s services and were happy with them. She felt she needed information on what jobs her Bachelor’s Degree qualified her for and where she might find work for the summer. Now she works at restaurant Joensuun Teatteriravintola, where she ended up with the help of job agent Aino-Maija.

The job agent helped Patricia with job searching.

”It’s been a really nice and educational job. People at Teatteriravintola are encouraging and know that not everyone is on the same level. I get help when I need it. We respect one another, and we all have our own ways of working. I’ve also worked with people from different countries – there are currently three Russians there, all of whom speak English really well.”

Learning has always been important to Calzado, and her goal for the summer has been to learn professional Finnish service vocabulary.  Waiting tables has never been her topmost goal, but learning about it has awakened a desire to learn even more.

”When I’ve had opportunities for growth at work I’ve thought that I also want to learn and be better”, Calzado states.

She mentions that the weather variations of the Finnish summer pose their own challenges in the restaurant business.

”Sometimes it’s really hot, sometimes cool, and sometimes there’s thunder. It’s hard to predict the flow of customers we get each day. We all understand it’s part of the job – you just have to be flexible.”

Calzado wishes Finland was more open-minded about foreign customer servants regardless of their skills in Finnish. She stresses that even if a worker’s Finnish is poor, their English may be perfect. Once workers get to hear Finnish at work and feel they get support with learning at work, they learn the language and want to stay.

Where does all this bravery spring from? Not just anybody can move to study in another country, let alone work.

”Good question. I’ve perhaps always been a kind of adventurer, meaning I gain a lot of energy out of new people and situations. It keeps me alive, you know. Furthermore, when I was little, I had to get used to moving around a lot and acclimating to new friends because of my father’s job. It was fairly natural for me. I’ve always been the one to start conversations. Maybe I noticed that my parents weren’t afraid either.”

Calzado’s goal is to graduate as a teacher and gain a permanent job in Finland in a couple of years at most. In the meantime, while working as a teacher, she wants to live in Finland. However, she does have a backup plan in case she gets bored of teaching.

”I also drink tea and have studied plenty on the history of tea and its preparation. My brother in Spain has a second job as a barista, so we figured that someday in the future we could maybe open our own small cafe. He could be the coffee master and I could be the tea master”, Calzado laughs.

Meet Patricia at TalentHub Joensuu

Text: Hanne Hynynen (Translation from Finnish: Lauri Vuori) Photos: Jan Rantala