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Updated 10/3/15: updated the status of my stay in the U.S.


Updated 10/18/14: after more than a year of the publishing date, I revisited my blog and fixed most of the typos and added some more recent information.

Thanks to Laure Cetin for BIF’ing me, she probably felt bad for me since I haven’t been BIF’d. Here it goes Laure. First answers to Laure’s questions:

  1. Name the person who affected you most in your career/way of thinking and why? Besides my step father, probably my first managers at Capgemini in the late 90s: Arto Kankaanpää and Keijo Kiviniitty. They taught me the importance of humbleness, honesty, integrity and professional conduct.
  2. If you were not in your current position, what/where would you be and why? I would probably work with Linux, maybe in some administrative or architecture position somewhere in the world. Linux was my big passion during my University years.
  3. If you were given by your work a full day every week to do whatever you feel like, what would it be? Probably spend more time on SCN, learn something new that wouldn’t necessary be related to my current tasks at work.

As you may have read from my recent MoM story, I’m a Finnish citizen who recently moved to California to pursue new career opportunities. I have worked with SAP for the past 15 years, mostly in consulting. My career started in Technical Support for Capgemini. It was my first job after having studied one semester at the Computer Science department of University of Helsinki. I gradually moved on to working for Capgemini’s SAP practice and that’s where I worked for 11 years. After my career at Capgemini, I worked 4 years for a SME company, Finland’s finest SAP consulting company Adcose. In 2012, I decided to give up consulting and pursued other opportunities.

The move to California was obviously a big change. When I heard late in August 2012 that I was given the H-1B visa, I had 2 weeks to deal with everything including getting rid of all furniture and selling the apartment, do all the required paper work and pack my things. The move to California was a major one. The climate here is totally different from what I was used to in Finland, warm and dry. It almost never rains here; last time it rained was 3 months ago. Work wise there are also differences. I would like to warn all Europeans and also people coming from other parts of the world that here in U.S. the expectancy is that people work at least what is required by their contract. Anything less is not accepted, anything a bit over is expected, anything more is wanted and anything way more is appreciated. For me it was fine since I had done my part in 16 hour work days and I let my employer know that early in the interviewing process. Lately I have been working 8-10 hours per day and that is exactly what I want. I guess what I want to say is that if you are looking into building an career from scratch here in the U.S. expect to work long hours.

Having worked for more than 2 years here in the U.S, it is starting to feel like a second home. We just moved from one location to another within Orange County, SoCal. Generally speaking the cultural differences are significant but at least for Europeans it is quite easy to get along here. My employer has started the Green Card process for me and assuming that it comes through in the near future (e.g. in the next year or so which it should for Finnish citizens) we are likely to stay here in the U.S. In late September 2015 I and my wife became permanent residents of U.S. meaning we received the Green Cards. It took almost 2 years from start to finish.

Let us get back to my background. So I’m from Finland, the land of 55000+ lakes, cold/snow’ish winters and the land of the depressed people. I had to write that since it’s a very well-known misunderstanding. Finnish people aren’t usually depressed. Finnish people are very reserved, except in some situations into which I will not go into details. Honesty is probably the most accurate word that describes the Finnish people and what they seek in other people. Once Finnish people consider you as honest, they are very easy to deal with. Until you do, you are considered as enemy, it has been this way for decades. Not to get into details but Finland has a very colorful history, especially when speaking of Finland’s neighbor country in the East. Google it yourself if you don’t believe me.

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This picture is from our family cottage in Karjalohja, Southern Finland.


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The Finnish Archipelago.


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Suomenlinna at a foggy day.

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A midsummer pole in Åland, Finland.

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Finland at its best, in the winter. My best friend’s cottage in Eastern Finland. The picture was taken in February.

Coming back to me, writing doesn’t come naturally to me. My High School and later University teachers made me aware that my writing skills might not be up to expected standards and I must admit they were mostly right about it. I do however write, at least in my own opinion and in the opinion of my peers, understandable technical documents. When I have something to contribute, I usually contribute and do it in a way which people understand me. I’m a techie at heart, having studied at the birth place of Linux, the Computer Science department of University of Helsinki.

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View over Helsinki, from the Torni Ateljee Bar.

What comes to SAP, I have always been tech savvy. I started installing SAP systems, got into performance analysis of existing SAP systems and finally into the lifecycle management of SAP systems including upgrades, system improvements, high availability, etc. In the early 2000s I got into ABAP programming which basically led the way. Ever since I have programmed in ABAP, HTMLB, BSP, Javascript and Java. Being a programmer in the SAP world opens you a lot of doors although it also limits your career possibilities, at least in my experience. If technology and programming is all your care about, I wouldn’t be too worried about it; you will get your motivation in doing what you like.

To continue about me, I don’t have any interesting hobbies or talents besides what I do for work. I like good food and wine; I guess I’m somewhat a hedonist in that sense. I love to barbeque, especially now that I can do it throughout the year. In fact, we barbequed on New Year’s Eve, it was quite weird to wear shorts and a t-shirt while doing it. Here in U.S. food is much cheaper than in Finland, even organic food.

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Probably the best grocery store in Finland, Herkku in Stockmann Helsinki.

My new favorite food after coming here to U.S. has been lamb from New Zealand. I miss fresh fish, something I became used to in Finland. Here in the U.S. you will have to pay a very considerable premium for non-colored, non-frozen, wild caught Atlantic Ocean fish and even then it’s not as good as what I was used to in Finland. Having visited Finland recently for 8 days, after almost one year, I must say the level of restaurants in Finland is incredible. Finland might not host the best restaurant in the world as Denmark does (Noma in Copenhagen), but there are about 5-10 restaurants that I consider world class. To back up my opinion I have enjoyed my share of Michelin star restaurants in several parts of the world.

For anyone traveling to Finland and especially Helsinki, I recommend warmly “Muru” which serves elegant but not too elegant French cuisine dishes and the main Chef there (Niki) is the best there is, he will respond to any gastronomic desire you might have.

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Niki @Muru in Helsinki.

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European, wild caught fresh water, whitefish @Muru.

Another restaurant I recommend is “Juuri” which serves Finnish Tapas called Sapas, be surprised by the fresh taste of authentic Finnish foods.

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Restaurant Juuri in Helsinki.

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Finnish tapas, Sapas, @Juuri.

I enjoy good, or rather great, cars. I’m mostly interested in BMWs and Audis although I don’t mind day dreaming about Aston Martins, Ferraris and Lamborghinis. You might have seen my comments on German Car Forum, especially the BMW forums there. Coming here to the U.S. opened the possibility for me to drive my dream car, the BMW M3, something that I simply couldn’t do in Finland because of the weather conditions; even if I could have afforded the three fold price tag compared to what it is here in the U.S. Although cars are inexpensive in the U.S., car insurances aren’t. I assume there is a correlation with the probability of getting into a car crash here. Here in Orange County, SoCal, there are drivers from all corners of the world, all social classes equipped with varying levels of driving skills; most have their license (rightfully?), some don’t. You have to be prepared for anything, you can’t simply trust that other drivers know what they are doing.

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My 2013 BMW M3 Convertible, in Interlagos Blue.

I like to travel and I have done my share of it. So far I have been to 27 countries in the world, mostly European countries but I have visited all continents except Antarctica and Australia. Here in the U.S. it is quite normal to have very little paid vacation, at least compared to what Europeans have. It is quite normal to have only 1-2 weeks of paid vacation per year, depending of course on the line of profession and who you work for.

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Big Island of Hawai’i, January 2014.

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Machu Picchu, Peru, September 2014.


I want to BIF the following people: Julius von dem Bussche, Chris Whealy and Lukas Weigelt. Julius because he was the first person I communicated with on SCN after years of inactivity. Chris because I simply would like to know more about him although I doubt he will take the challenge. Lukas because he has the coolest name there is, at least for wine lovers like myself. The questions I would them to answer are:

  1. What do you enjoy doing most in your life? In your free time, besides work that is?
  2. If you could meet any person, live or dead who would you want to meet?
  3. Have you ever considered working in a non-SAP business? If yes, what held you back and if no why not?
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16 Comments

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  1. Jason Lax

    Reading about rain, winter, lakes and cabins in the woods is now making me homesick πŸ™

    Costco, of all places, usually has an excellent fresh selection of Salmon.  I prefer the Pacific variety that tends to be fresher.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Samuli Kaski Post author

      CostCo, wild caught, is what we usually eat but man if you are ever in the northern hemisphere, the fish is so much better there. It’s like candy! Thanks for the help with publishing the blog.

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  2. Tammy Powlas

    Hello Samuli,

    I enjoyed the pictures and your story.  Congratulations on being “MoM”

    On this:

    building an career from scratch here in the U.S. expect to work long hours.

    I hope that is changing soon for you.

    I used to watch a show here on PBS regarding Scandinavian cooking and looked fantastic.  The cooks would cook on a boat or a ship, especially outside and sorry to say but the food looks and sounds much better in Finland.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Tammy

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  3. Jitendra Kansal

    thanks Samuli for sharing your life style with lovely pix. really beautiful pix πŸ™‚

    Finland always reminds me of NOKIA. πŸ˜†

    Rgrds,

    Jitendra

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  4. Lukas Weigelt

    Heya Samuli,

    nice BIF-Blog and nice pics! Oh wow, I didn’t know how supercool I am yet πŸ˜› ; just googled my last name and ‘wine’. Is it about that “Zweigelt”-brand? I have no relation to wine whatsoever, but this is quite funny πŸ˜€ .

    I don’t know myself whether I “take the challenge” yet, because that whole social media stuff is a thorn in my side. Thank you for BiF to me anyway, I’ll think about it.

    Cheers, Lukas

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    1. Samuli Kaski Post author

      Lukas Weigelt wrote:

                             

      Is it about that “Zweigelt”-brand? I have no relation to wine whatsoever, but this is quite funny πŸ˜€ .

      Zweigelt indeed. It’s actually a red wine grape most commonly found in Central Europe, especially Austria and Germany. And don’t worry about the BIF, do it if you feel upto it.

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  5. Laure Cetin

    Great blog Samuli! I hope you had fun writing your BIF post, because I enjoyed reading it… I’m sure you smiled as you wrote your riddles about Finland πŸ˜‰

    Now I’m wondering what gets Finnish people to lose some of their “reserve” πŸ˜‰

    I think that the US West Coast is not good for fish and sea food, I think the East Coast is better, but I may be wrong. Also, I beg to differ about food price, I think healthy food is expensive in the US, I spend my pay check at Whole Foods. Kind of. (we call it “Whole Paycheck”)

    Any way, it’s nice to get to know you better! Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures!
    I’m amazed to learn that if you had a free day in the week you would go to SCN. Thanks! I take it as a compliment on behalf of our wonderful community.

    Best,

    Laure

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    1. Samuli Kaski Post author

      Laure Cetin wrote:

                             

      Great blog Samuli! I hope you had fun writing your BIF post, because I enjoyed reading it… I’m sure you smiled as you wrote your riddles about Finland πŸ˜‰

      Thanks, much to my surprise I actually enjoyed writing the blog. I have been updating the blog couple of times so that it has more personal information and so that it better adheres to the BIF rules and I’m not done yet!

      Laure Cetin wrote:

                             

      I think that the US West Coast is not good for fish and sea food, I think the East Coast is better, but I may be wrong. Also, I beg to differ about food price, I think healthy food is expensive in the US, I spend my pay check at Whole Foods. Kind of. (we call it “Whole Paycheck”)

      You are right, I should have probably written “much cheaper than in Finland”, something I will fix the next time I edit my blog. The food in Finland is much more expensive than in other European countries, especially the central ones. The prices of food in Finland are only topped by the prices in Norway.

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  6. Vivek Singh Bhoj

    Great blog!

    Pictures of Finland are awesome. 55k+ lakes – didn’t know that – thats awesome.

    The sunset picture is awesome – did you take it yourself?

    Good to know you

    Regards,

    Vivek

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    1. Samuli Kaski Post author

      Thanks. I did take the picture myself, couple of years ago using an entry level digital camera (Canon IXUS). If you want the original, since the ones on SCN are scaled, you can find it on my Google+ page, Sunsets folder under Photos.

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  7. Suseelan Hari

    Hi Samuli,

    Photos are fantastic! 😎

    Thank you so much for sharing about you and your experience. It was very interesting and different to read you BIF. Keep up the good work. Thanks for sharing exceptional blog. Keep rocking and sharing new innovation and ideas. I love to read your blogs and happy to comment it.

    Have a nice day!

    Regards,

    Hari Suseelan

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