How did you end up in Helsinki?

Well, that's pretty simple.
In January 2005 I visited Helsinki and Kuusamo with my parents and immediately had a feeling that told me to come back and live here someday. So I chose my home university in Germany because I knew I could come to Helsinki for exchange (a comparable programme wasn't available in Finland at the time) – and so I did. In May 2010 I came to Helsinki and have not left since. Instead of returning to Germany for one semester I fought a dauntless battle with bureaucracy and managed to complete my studies in Helsinki. So far this epiphany proved me right and I'm still in love with Helsinki every day.

So it's really a love story with the city and the country, but I also found my passion here when it comes to what I want to do and discovered to I am. That's also what this website is for!

What do/don't you like about it so much?

Helsinki is a beautiful city, I love the proximity to nature without the loss of a Capital city feeling to it. Walking by the seaside or around my favourite area, the Töölönlahti bay, gives me total peace of mind. Basically, from wherever you are, it doesn't take long to get to the seaside and I wouldn't want to miss that anymore.

It's small and compact, so it's easy to get around. I like that it doesn't take me forever to get from one end of the city to another. Life here is comfortable and easygoing, people are genuine and respectful.

Having lived in a bunch of other countries (Luxembourg, Germany, Canada) I do have a bit of perspective on life abroad. Some negative aspects are strong here too, but I always encourage everyone to put things in perspective. Prices are high, yes. Alcohol in particular and general cost of living is high, but you a) get used to it quickly, b) it mostly relates to salaries around here and c) the high standard of living (infrastructure, social benefits) pays it back to you. So yes, it's not cheap, but nobody really whines about it (except for the alcohol part). Rent is high if you compare it to countryside cities else, but it's low when you compare it to London or even Munich. So, make of that what you want. Public transport is cheap when you compare it to both aforementioned cities. Perspective, people, perspective!

Isn't it really cold all the time?

The weather is a thing here I actually really like. The climate is better for my brain, hair, skin and mood. I don't take heat and humidity very well, so my general physical well-being has improved a lot – to start with. I don't mind the cold, usually it's paired with a lot of snow and often bright blue sky and sunshine.

But there are two kinds of people. The ones that get the "November blues", when it's still too warm for snow but already really dard, or the ones that get the "spring depression" around March - and I'm definitely the latter! I mean, man, in the beginning of May it's still not green! What is up with that! I learnt that "spring" for Finns means "it's light again", but having grown up in a country that blooms and shines of bright green and spring flowers, that doesn't work for me. The cure? Go on vacation 😉 or drink a lot of red wine and light candles.

What are the people like?

It is being said that Finns are a very quiet and reserved nation, and to a certain extent that is true. You will rarely be randomly talked to. That is a quality I highly value, as I'm not a big fan of smalltalk and answering generic questions with the same staged enthusiasm (hence this post). But if people talk to you, they are genuinely interested and topics quickly go beyond the usual. They are honest and straight forward, often have a great dry humour. There are no empty phrases around here and you can rely on people. Living here as a woman, I feel comfortable being on my own and out on the streets by myself, even at night. Common sense is usually what you need to be safe here and that's something not to be taken for granted!

You are self-employed, how is that working out for you and how did you do it?

I work for myself under my Luminoucity Toiminimi since November 2014, which is basically private entrepreneurship, which means you don't own a company, but you are your own company. You can read up on it here.. The practical thing, setting it up and registering it, was super easy. As an EU citizen it usually is, at least. This solution is the simplest way to start doing business on your own, and also for instance tax-wise, this is a very beneficial way to do it.

The job hunt in Finland for foreigners can be frustrating. I wrote about my thoughts regarding that here.

About "it working out" - there's a lot of hard work, pro-activism and red wine in this. But it's worth it. The decision to trade security (regular paychecks and time off) in for freedom (schedules, work I take) was a conscious choice and I haven't regretted that one single day. There are downtimes for everyone, but again - putting things in perspective helps.

How I "did" it? Keep posted on the blog about it 🙂

Got another question for me? Leave it in a comment below!

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