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My Oulu: A Kiwi embracing winter in Oulu

12.4.2022

There are many newcomers to Oulu who would happily go for a 5K run on a frosty morning. But how many would stop for a quick dip at the ice-swimming hole in Tuira, get out of the freezing cold water and carry on running? Jon Krebs, a young IT professional who turned up for his first parkrun in Oulu in a pair of shorts in a February blizzard, is thriving on experiences like that. He told his story to freelance journalist Erika Benke.

“I love being in the north. It’s magical: I love the snow and the cold,” says Jon Krebs, who’s moved to Oulu from Auckland, New Zealand.

“The last weekend before my move, I went to the beach in Auckland. It was warm, 29 ˚C. A few days later I arrived in Oulu and it was minus 18 ˚C. It was the coldest I’d ever felt in my life.”

Krebs, who works as a programmer and designer for a Swedish start-up in Oulu, quickly adapted to the change in temperatures.

“I underestimated the cold before I got here: I didn’t have a hat or gloves. I had what I thought was warm clothes but I was sorely mistaken, so I went out and got some new items.”

Different cultures fascinate

Kitted out for winter in the north, Jon’s been trying his hand at various Arctic outdoor activities ever since. He’s recently celebrated his birthday by going on a bike ride in the wilderness near Iso-Syöte and spending a night in a laavu.

“I love trying new things and I like challenges. For example, ice-swimming is so different from anything I’ve done before,” he explains.

“I feel so good, so relaxed in a sauna after swimming in icy cold water.”

This is not the first time Krebs had moved overseas for a job: he had lived in Poland and Sweden before.

“The thing I really love about living abroad is getting to see different cultures, trying different food, hearing different languages, experiencing different ways people live and interact with each other. It’s fascinating to see all these differences and compare them to what we have back in New Zealand.”

Krebs is planning to stay in Oulu for at least a year. He hopes to soon share his newfound love of northern pursuits with his family, including his mother and twin brother, who lives in Vietnam.

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