Aiman Aijaz, Pakistan. Medical doctor, personal trainer, entrepreneur.
Aiman Aijaz moved to Finland nine years ago, after her husband started working here. Originally from Pakistan, Aiman had hoped to continue her career as a medical doctor, but that proved problematic because of the language requirements.
Since then, Aiman has mastered the Finnish language and found a passion for health and wellbeing. Nowadays, she runs her own business and works as a personal and lifestyle trainer, YouTube influencer and occasionally actor. What drives Aiman is a goal to spread happiness and help people to stay healthy.
What surprised me the most when moving to Finland was… not being able to work [in the medical field] before I learnt the Finnish language. Also, being away from my family and encountering cultural differences were challenging at first. Moving to a new country led to lifestyle changes and it was tough initially, but then life became smoother, better, and now lovable.
On the other hand, it has been a delightfully surprising experience to see how easy it is to buy and sell property, such as a car or a house, in Finland.
Also, people are generally content with what they already have. They are not part of this never-ending race where nothing is enough, one always wants more and more, and there is this endless inventory of things and wishes.
Tandem skydiving in Utti, Finland, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Aiman.Aiman Aijaz
Consequently, Finland is peaceful and full of freedom. I highly value the freedom to do things I want here, and I'm grateful for it. It's worth appreciating the calmness, serenity and sense of security here. Furthermore, the fact that people trust the government also brings happiness.
I have found that the food here is pure and healthy, and the food hygiene standards are reliable. In addition, clean drinking water is readily and easily available.
On the negative side is that Finland is an expensive country to live in. But over the years, I've discovered the sweet spots where you find the best services and goods at the fairest prices.
In addition, the weather can be cold and rainy, but I still love it and have found hobbies to enjoy for every season. For example, in the summer, swimming in the lakes, strength training in outdoor gyms, cycling, playing tennis and Nordic walking in the forests. In the winter, skiing, cold plunging, ice-skating and sledging.
Starting a career as a medical doctor in Finland was… not easy at all. Although I'm a qualified medical doctor, I had to stay home because pursuing a career in this profession without speaking Finnish wasn't possible. So I became a housewife, and, as I was trying to find my groove in this new environment, I gained a lot of weight.
The biggest challenge I faced was not being able to work until I learnt the language. One day, while attending a Finnish language study group, I learnt there are sessions in a nearby church where you can find people interested in speaking with Finnish language learners. I attended a session and was lucky enough to find two language “parents”. This was the turning point in my struggling journey.
Aiman got certified as a personal trainer after making a lifestyle change.Aiman Aijaz
Later, my doctor friends have been extremely helpful in guiding me in my medical career journey. I met two Finnish doctor friends while working in a local health centre. One of them visited my home country with us in 2018 and had an amazing and memorable experience.
It is still quite difficult for immigrant doctors to pursue a medical career here. When I moved here, there wasn't enough guidance available. I had to create my own path and find all the answers. In 2017, an article in Potilaan lääkärilehti (Finnish Medical Journal published by the Finnish Medical Association) detailed problems immigrant doctors face and not much has changed, unfortunately.
I would like to see politicians alter the language legislation so that doctors and specialists could also work in English. There is a significant need for good doctors, which could be helped by easing the integration process for foreign, qualified doctors.
The main difference in working life in Finland compared to other countries where I have worked is…that there is some racism and discrimination here, but a very niche part of the population causes that. It is not something I see in most Finns.
I'm in love with Finland, and, when you are in love with something, it is hard to talk about its flaws and downsides objectively. So I wouldn't go as far as to say Finland is the best country in the world, but, for me, it is the one to work and live in.
“Learning Finnish has been a ‘journey from hate to love’ for me.”
I wanted to start a wellness coaching company here because… I wanted to teach others what I have learnt on my personal journey. So I decided to make a career shift.Typicallymedical studies teach us very little about nutrition, and lifestyle modifications to lose weight aren't touched at all.
During my journey to lose weight, I realised that losing weight in the healthiest possible way could be the hardest. I began by experimenting with a lot of trial and error, and by immersing myself in the data available, and I lost 21 kilos permanently. I believe in prevention, and, if you maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, you can prevent many illnesses. I enrolled in a one-year international study programme in health, fitness and wellness, and, after completing my certification, I became a qualified international personal trainer.
I started working as a lifestyle health expert in a local wellness centre and started my own company providing wellbeing services.
I’m also a social media influencer and have channels where I share content about holistic healthcare and my experiences from living in Finland.
Meditation is part of Aiman’s wellbeing routine.Aiman Aijaz
In addition, I’m a part-time actress. My goal is to spread happiness and help people to improve their wellbeing and stay healthy. I want to make a meaningful contribution to society through my work in all my professional domains.
My experience with starting a company in Finland has been… easy. The process of starting and running a company isn't complex. TE-toimisto [the Employment and Economic Development Office] offers all kinds of advisory and financial support for startups.
I would advise anyone wanting to learn the Finnish language… to find yourself a good language “parent”. It can be a neighbour, a friend or a colleague, but spouses aren't the best option. Basically, find someone genuinely interested in teaching you and who understands your babbled sentences just like parents understand their kids. And crucially, someone who doesn't correct all your mistakes to boost your confidence.
My second tip would be to use the language in an area relevant to your profession or life. For example, I found it difficult to learn Finnish at school, but, once I started my language practice in a health centre, I became much more receptive to learning new terms. I felt joy because everything was relevant to my work and made much more sense to me.
Learning Finnish has been a "journey from hate to love” for me. If you Google the ten most difficult languages in the world, Finnish is one of them. I can now vouch for that because of my experiences, but it didn't stop me from learning it.
Cross-country skiing is a popular winter activity in Finland.Aiman Aijaz
What I enjoy most about living in Espoo is… the genuine and loving friends I have made here. I have a wonderful circle of friends made up of Finns, other Pakistanis and those from different ethnic backgrounds. Some of them are almost like family to me.
My neighbours are helpful and kind, and we are lucky enough to have developed a good relationship with them. At first, I found the people living here shy and quiet, but they are helpful, patient, kind and conscientious.
The hobbies that I have really enjoyed practising in Finland are… acting, cold plunging, skiing and skydiving. Hunting for the northern lights is on my bucket list. I also want a motorbike driving licence, but the process is cumbersome and expensive.
One of my dreams is to open a restaurant in Finland one day. I have participated in many Restaurant Days here and gained excellent responses. I have also been organising cooking classes for my Finnish neighbours at my place and, luckily, they have loved my cooking!