Satu Koskela, who works as a management assistant at VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland), moved from Espoo to Oulu last January. She was born in Oulu, but moved with her parents to the Helsinki metropolitan area even before memories of living in Oulu could be born. Still, returning had often been on her mind, especially since Koskela’s boyfriend also has family roots and background in Oulu.
”We started to think like ‘should we go to Oulu?’ This legendary question led to him getting a job here and moving here two years ago. I followed now as the children grew up and left the nest”, Koskela says.
”I have such a wonderful situation that the employer (VTT) has an office in Oulu, too, so I was able to continue the same work here.”
After-work event on Tuesday
Koskela is organising an after-work event for new residents like her on Tuesday, May 31st. The free event will be from 5 PM to 7 PM at Cocktail Company (Hallituskatu 9).
Koskela says that she got the idea for the event from her experiences while studying in Vienna in 2018.
”There were a lot of events of this type for expats (foreign workers or students): language cafés, comedy nights, hikes, and so on. I went to them because I didn’t know anyone there. I found it very nice. Even though people were completely strangers, everyone had the same need to get together and meet others.”
”Now, during the covid pandemic, this has become even more pronounced as you no longer even meet your own friends, relatives or colleagues. I think there’s a huge void for a lot of people.”
I would argue that during my 15 years in Espoo I did not speak with my neighbors as much as I have spoken here in one spring.
Koskela believes that there is a real need for this kind of meeting in a city like Oulu, where thousands of new residents move every year.
”It occurred to me that maybe someone else also has a need for this kind of meeting and building a social network, without any agenda or theme. This is an open encounter open to all, independent of gender or other status.”
Friendly and genuine people
It is sometimes claimed that original residents in Oulu are somewhat unfriendly to migrants. Koskela disagrees.
”I have a completely opposite experience! I have lived this spring in an apartment building in Pyykösjärvi, and I would argue that during my 15 years in Espoo I did not speak with my neighbors as much as I have spoken here in one spring.”
”You can see it anywhere. When you see a doctor, the doctor actually has time to listen to you. People even walk slower here than in Espoo. The rhythm of life is much calmer and people are really friendly,” Koskela praises.
”I feel like the further north you get, the nicer people are. And more authentic. People are who they are and they don’t need to pretend otherwise.”