Houston – July 31 2013

Studies show that both drinking and giving make people happier.
Now you can do both at the same time!Come join us for the July Happy Hour at Okra Charity Bar !
$3.00 beers, $3.00 well drinks, and $5.00 wines.

AND 100% of the bar’s profits are donated to one of four Houston charities!Located downtown in one of Houston’s oldest buildings, this bar is a unique place for a happy hour.

Opened in 1882 as the Casino Saloon, this building served as a bar until Prohibition, when it became a barbershop. Since that time, the building housed several other business, including the Circle Bar, named for its original circle arch and barrel vault ceilings which are still intact today.

See you there!

Shahla, Mary Beth and Wade

PS. And invite a friend to join EuroCircle so we can grow EuroCircle Houston!

For Houston Culture MapBy Whitney Radley
6.25.13 | 12:48 pm

Drinking has never felt so virtuous,” write the editors of Playboy of The Original OKRA Charity Saloon, the downtown endeavor from Houston food and beverage entrepreneurs by the likes of Bobby Heugel, Paul Petronella and Justin Yu.The bar, which donates 100 percent of its proceeds to a Houston-based organization or social cause each month, was selected as the “Best Reason to Give” in Playboy’s new roundup of the “Best Bars in America 2013″ alongside other establishments that are “raising the bar on how we drink.”OKRA’s featured nonprofits for June are Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Houston Police Foundation, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Da Camera of Houston, and each drink ordered earns you a token to vote — you know what you have to do.”

Austin – July 26 2013

Hi everybody!

This is going to be a Red ACCESSORY themed party. Dress elegant and be creative with the accent color! A few ideas: red flower, watches, shoes, purse, hat, necklace, earrings, belt, glove, lipstick…holding a glass of red wine will not suffice!

Do you dream of wine? Yes? Great. The Red Room is a lovely secret (=hard to find) venue located in the epicenter of downtown Austin. They have a vast selection of gorgeous wines and agreed to tailor a list for our group. The atmosphere is absolutely splendid! If you have not been there yet, now is your time!

Do you like nice legs? I do. Think about which legs will appeal most to your pallet.
Come over and relax with a nice sip of wine. You will not be sorry.

Hope to see you all there!

A bientot,

Allison &
The EuroCircle team
If you have any questions, please contact Allison Berguin

Danes in NYC

Meet Anders Krog, Lars Eeg and Dennis Schindler-Thomsen of Danes in NYC. Danes in NY started in 2009.

What is the Danes in NYC?

Danes in NYC is the biggest independent Danish Network in the Greater New York City area mostly catering to Danes that are looking to network in a relaxed setting at our events or to share and/or benefit from information shared with/by our members.

When did you start Danes in NYC?

Danes in NYC was started in 2009 by Anders Krog and Rasmus Elsborg Jensen. Today Danes in NYC is Dennis Schindler-Thomsen, Lars Eeg and Anders Krog.

Where do you all work outside of Danes in NYC?

Anders and Lars work at a Danish Shipping Company by the name of Shipco http://www.shipco.com and Dennis works at Bloomberg.

How many members do you have and where is your member base from?

We are more than 1400+, almost at 1500 members currently and are growing our member base by about 50+ per month these days. The growth is mostly due to word of mouth by other members but we do present our organization several times a year when the Danish General Consulate in Town hosts “New in New York” events welcoming new Danes top the City.

What is your role with the group?

All 3 pretty much share the responsibilities at this point. We are presently building new infrastructure within the group to help handle all tasks as the growth of the group demands more work and apart from that we are all 3 engaged in building a new web portal for Danes in the city to be launched soon.

What kind of events do you have and how often do you have them?

We have a couple of different types of events. We mainly host networking events in relaxed settings (Bars) on Friday nights. That being said, we are developing a better and better program every year and have recently hosted a fundraiser event that was a great success and raised money for a charity organization in Denmark. We have 1-2 more of these charity events planned for the remainder of the year 2013.

What challenges if any have Danes in NYC faced and what are your best accomplishments to date?

The accomplishments so far have been to see The Danes in the city make use of and individually benefit from each other. To create a network that is open to all and can be used as yet another resource to navigate the busy lives New Yorkers live. There are several transitional challenges a lot of Danes experience where the network can help out. So no doubt, the network is THE major accomplishment, and this all achieved as a pro-bono group driven by less than a handful of people.

How is New York different than Denmark?

New York is a fast paced society that can feel as a very individualistic and competitive challenge to many Danes. Are feeling is though, that many of The Danes that take the step and travel over here, whether that being for a short while or to settle, are driven, competitive and up for the challenge! Danmark is a very regulated and controlled society in many ways and can be little rewarding even for people that do put a lot of energy into a career, for example. Living the dream here in New York, i think most Danes will agree that we all feel the sky is the limit here whereas the ceiling is not far above when living in Denmark.

When you aren’t planning events what fun things do you like to do in New York City?

Lars and Anders live busy lives outside their work at Shipco. Anders spends his free time travelling, riding his motorcycle and enjoying some relaxing weekends with friends all while keeping in shape at the fitness center. Dennis spends most of his spare time with his Family in Long Island when not hanging with The Danes in The City or working on one of his entrepreneurial projects.

When is the best time of year to visit Denmark and how often do you go and visit?

We all visit Denmark at least once a year – Some of us 2 or 3 times. And let there be no doubt, Denmark is best in the Summertime! Late summer/August is best… Late Sunsets and early sunrise and a lot of fun!

How long have you lived in New York?

Anders have been here 12 years, Lars 9 and Dennis 8 years (July 2013).

Are you involved with any other groups in New York? If so which ones and for how long?

We all 3 are involved with another Danish network in town called DABGO(Danes Abroad Business Group Online – http://www.dabgo.net/). This network was started in NYC in 2006(Not by us though!) and have spread to more than 40 countries around the world, counting more than 10000 members worldwide.

Anything else you would like to tell us about Danes in NYC?

Danes in NYC events are normally not closed to Danes only. We have frequent “guests” from other nationalities so please do join us for some of our events going forward. We also very much would like to get in contact with other groups/networks and see how that could be beneficial to all parties going forward.

How can people connect up with you?

We can be found at http://www.danesinnyc.com
even though the website is not completely launched and ready for prime time yet. Furthermore, to reach us directly, you can send us emails at our respective email addresses at: lars@danesinnyc.com, anders@danesinnyc.com and dennis@danesinnyc.com.

Website: http://www.danesinnyc.com

Danish Networks in the USA: http://www.biennews.com/det-social-network-pa-facebook-blandt-danskerne-i-amerika/


Chicago – Jul 18 2013

Chicago summer nights + Beautiful outdoor patio + cool cocktails + hot, new international people = EUROCIRCLE!

Please join us at a very special networking night with our special guests from Chicago Nine AND our beloved friend and DJ, John Grammatis! John’s got the latest hits from the sexy and sunny beaches of the Mediterranean and we are turning Tocco into an Italian island for the night- sand not included.

Tocco has consistently been rated as one of the best Italian restuarants in the city, and chef/owner Bruno Abate is the epitome of classic Italian chic! Great specials including $8 Straweberry Caipiroska will be featured just for us!

**Dress to impress in your summer best**
We look forward to seeing you there!

Helsinki – Jessica Powell & Helsinki Expats

I “met” Jessica via EuroCircle Helsinki Facebook group – and then I saw her also at the Americans in Finland group so I got really curious…I have both nationalities as of today and have had American friends living in Finland. I wondered what she thought about it. One of my friends did not do well, he never bothered to learn any Finnish though I think he did better in Finland professionally than he would have done in the USA. The others did extremely well and learned to speak Finnish as well. SO…let’s find out what Jessica thinks.

Could you tell us about yourself? (who are you, where are you from, what did you study, possibly your age, all the usual stuff that one wants to know to get a little elevator speech about you)

My name is Jessica Powell. I’m a traditional Southern girl from the Carolinas. I packed up my life and moved to Finland six years ago. I had never even left the country before that, but chose to make a decision that has proved time and time again to be a wonderful one. I love Finland and my goal is to help others love it too.

IF you are a student/work – both situations are interestingly different in many countries. USA is more expensive, style of colleges is different etc. Write something about it. Work/entrepreneur/unemployed/home, environment…what’s different. Basically..what is your typical day like.

I’ve studied here and received a Bachelor’s degree in Social and Health care, and it didn’t cost me anything. It was a luxury I never thought I could afford while living in the States. Turns out free is very affordable! I was offered a job immediately upon graduation and have been very happy in my work. Although the taxes are quite high here, the amount that is returned to the citizens is quite a lot.

What challenges did you face when you first moved to Helsinki and how did you resolve them?

Getting from place to place, appointment times, shop hours and no one-stop shops were my biggest challenges.

In the States, one could take a personal vehicle to wherever you needed to go, and destinations are very clearly marked. However, in Finland, street signs are small and don’t occur so often, a doctor’s office may look like the building of an apartment and it is possible there are no signs! Six years ago, I didn’t have the luxury of a GPS on my phone, so I was continually lost or late. Now with the availability of 3g (or higher) on a standard phone, life is easier. And I have learned how to use all manner of public transport with no difficulty!

I also had to learn that if I had an appointment, anywhere, I needed to reserve the whole day! Places like Kela, the police station or the job office can have massive queues. Now I know to bring a good book and a patient demeanor!

Shop hours were confusing, being closed early or closed on holidays that seemed to happen far too often for my comfort! The ability to go into one shop to get everything I needed was not an option anymore. I would need to set aside a day to get something from the pharmacy, on to the Alko, then the grocery store, etc. Now I just manage my time and buy the things I need from those shops as I am near them.

It has taken some adjusting, but now I accept it and make it work. It is just part of the daily life.

Has your experience being in a Finnish/Swedish speaking country been vastly different from your prior experiences ?

In the States, Spanish was quickly becoming the unofficial second language before I moved away, but the aversion to it was quite strong in many people. It had always been difficult for me to listen to the complaints. However, moving to Finland, I have found people to be quite open to speak English, and discovered most to be helpful and forgiving of my lack of Finnish. I am sure there are many here who have complaints about foreigners learning the language, but I have not experienced very much of that personally. If anything, this experience has given me a greater appreciation for the foreigners living in the States that tolerate language prejudices on a daily basis.

Did you experience ‘culture shock’ in Finland. How different is it from your USA? (even religion is different)

For me, the most difficult thing to adjust to was the lack of take-away options and readymade food and meals. In the States, I was working full-time and often would pick up something quick in the drive thru, or pop into the local shop to grab a full meal for the family. It was quick, easy and affordable. Here, I had to learn all about how to make meals from scratch, and if I wanted a particular type of food or desert that was not available here, I had to learn to make it for myself. The plus side of this is that we eat far healthier here than we ever did in the States, and I can prepare almost any meal that one would desire!

How has your life as an expat influenced your personal and work life?

Living in Finland, being an Expat for the first time, I quickly saw the need for someone to step up and organize something for the Expats and foreigners living here. Those away from their home country, their friends and family, their lifestyles, and their language. While one can essentially get a job, or a study place, and live a relatively normal life, the need to get out and socialize with people in similar situations is quite strong. To be able to discuss in person the challenges, the dilemmas, the ups and downs of being an Expat; to make new friends, to start a new life here in Finland. I had no trouble walking up to strangers to ask questions or to make friends as I am a naturally social person with little fear of embarrassment or rejection. But the more people I spoke to, the more I realized how difficult it can be for other people. I tried to help where I could, helping those in my University and later joining several volunteer organizations such as The 501st Legion (a Star Wars charity organization), the Red Cross, visiting detainees at the detention center, and then becoming a full time organizer and host for the Helsinki Expat Meetup.

What have you learned from being an expat? Positive/negative (WHY?)

I have learned that being an Expat can be both the most challenging experience of your life, but also the most rewarding and wonderful. The opportunity to be able to become familiar with another country’s way of life, to immerse oneself in the culture, the people, the lifestyle…it can be equally frightening and momentously joyful. To be able to take things how they come, to roll with the experience, to make a mark on the people around you, those are the important things to me. I have found that there are far more positive memories, than negative ones, but it could be all how you choose to handle your experiences.

Have you done anything since moving to Finland that you never would have expected?

Everything! I’ve traveled to places I never would have dreamed, eaten all types of food, went on almost every adventure that has come my way. Living in Finland has given me a zeal for life and everything in it!

However, as an American, there were certain differences that I had to acclimate to. My first ‘real’ Finnish sauna experience was during Juhannus. I had only been living in Finland for a few months when I was invited by a Finnish family to join them for Juhannus. We headed out to their summer cottage up North. It was a lively group, full of different types of Finns, and my family was the only foreigners. However, the group was large and most of the Finns were very welcoming and willing to talk in English. Food grilled over an open fire pit, warm beers, and Finnish pancakes were all nice experiences and the enormous Juhannus bonfire was a breathtaking site.

The pinnacle of the weekend was the Finnish sauna. I had only experienced sauna in a completely sterile environment, the local US gym, wrapped in a towel, avoiding the eye contact of others. A big group of women invited me to sauna, and I quickly realized the nudity. A proud Southern girl, I dared not show my fear and stripped down to enter the sauna. My heart raced, I was so fearful of others noticing my flaws, my less than perfect body, perhaps laughing, judging. What I experienced was so far different than what I had envisioned.

Many types of women sat in that sauna, and they were all beautiful. Not in this classic ‘what-people-expect-Scandinavian-women-to-look-like’ media portrayal way, but in the way that they were comfortable with who they were, comfortable to sit and chat, to share stories, to make a little Southern girl from a small town feel relaxed in this new and foreign environment. They were all lovely and beautiful, with real bodies, real women who had experienced life. And they were beautifully flawed, like me. And suddenly Finland was my home.

What was the biggest misconception you had about Finland when you moved there? (good/bad)

To be honest, I knew nothing about Finland before I moved here! I deliberately avoided doing a lot of research to prevent having assumptions. I prefer to learn about things during the experience rather than what people have told me, or what is considered ‘common knowledge’. I was happy with my decision! Learning about each thing along the way and personally experiencing has made my life more rich here.

What do you miss from USA”?

My family, friends and some foods. I know how difficult it is for Americans to affordably travel outside of the States, and how rare it happens. However, I love to have visits and if they bring some of my favorite non-perishable foods, even better!

What’s the best thing and worst thing that has happened to you as an expat?

My life on a daily basis probably tops the list of the best thing!

But the worst thing was when I was late for a dentist appointment. I had trouble finding the building (due to the lack of street signs and building markers!) and was seven minutes late to the appointment. Normally, in the States, it is possible you are waiting quite a long time past your appointment time.

While the dentist gave my teeth a thorough examination, she lectured me as one would a small child. She advised that being late in Finland was one of the more rude things a person could do. That I had now set back the appointment times of everyone waiting by those seven minutes. That if there was anything serious with my exam, that they would have to reschedule. And on and on. I was mortified, embarrassed, nearly in tears by the time I left.

I returned to my vehicle and vowed to never be late again. It probably wasn’t the best way to learn a lesson, but it sure has stuck with me!

What do you like more in this country than in your own country? Or less…WHY???

Finnish people often ask me, “why?”, in an astounded kind of way; a direct result of my passionate declaration of love for Finland. I usually say that it is easier for me to name the few things I do not like than to try to explain all of the wonderful reasons Finland has such a special place in my heart.
But, to name a few:
People. I love the directness of Finns, the natural way to trust ones word as truth, the lack of clutter in a conversation, the honesty, goodness and wholesomeness, the everlasting true friendship of a Finn.
Nature. I find Finland to be pure, the ability to be able to walk for five minutes and get a chance to sit in a park, to be able to head out to Nuuksio to be able to enjoy an unmolested area of the world, to be able to pick berries and eat them.
Seasons. The capability to appreciate the vast differences in the weather; the long lazy Summer days, the cozy dark and cold Winters, the birth of a green Spring, the end of Summer in a brilliant display of colors that is Autumn. Each one is magnificent.=

What is best about the area where you live…any other cities you would like to live in?? (cost of living, security, transportation, people, culture, housing, food)

Finland is so safe, so comfortable. I’ve only visited a few areas of the country so far, and want to travel all over, especially Lapland.

Where do you see yourself in the future? WHY?

I would like to keep working with Expats and foreigners in Finland. I would like to continue helping with such groups as The Expat project to improve all areas of the lives of people moving to Finland.

Tell us about the international group you are involved with in Helsinki.

I took over the Helsinki Expat Meetup group to take on the challenges expats moving to Finland face. The group was started by a Canadian who lived in Helsinki some years ago. Now, all of the events are organized by me. Under my management, the group has tripled to almost 2000 members.

Helsinki Expat Meetup is a non-profit group designed as a way to meet new people, make friends and share experiences. We usually have a meetup once per week somewhere in Helsinki.

We are NOT competing with any other groups or organizations, but rather trying to join forces to give people great choices for things to do in Finland. Finns, tourists and visitors are also most welcome!

About 70% of the people that come to the meetups are new for the first time, and don’t know anyone else there. The others that come regularly really want to get to know new people, so we don’t have any issues with cliques. The goal of each meetup is to get to meet new people.

We don’t have a program for the event, everyone just shows up as their time allows, and can talk to whomever they please. Some people try to say hello to everyone, but others might only talk to two or three people for the whole event.

We pick different places, times and days, so everyone can find something to suit their interests, and guests are welcome to stay for as long or as little as they would like at each event.

Anything else you really think we should understand or know about you and Finland?

I am always looking for people willing to donate their time or energy into helping with any of the groups I am working with! There is no monetary pay but the rewards are great! Anyone interested can contact me to find out more.

Connect with JESSICA POWELL at Facebook

Austin – Allison Berguin from France

I wanted to feature Allison for multiple reasons. Not in any particular order: She is French (Bastille Day weekend), she lives in my building, she has been an immense help with EuroCircle, she is super nice and interesting – and I still recall thinking she is from Europe when I saw her first time! It is that little touch on French chic…she had it even dressed casually!

Tell us about yourself- who are you and what would be the short story of your life? (where are you from, where did you study, how did you come to Austin, what do you do for work etc so people get to know you)

Who am I? Great question! I am a hybrid of French and American. I was born in Senegal (Africa) but was brought up in both France and the United Arab Emirates for most of my years. After graduating from high school in math and sciences, I opted to go to college in America. Why Texas? I had a big craving for BBQ… I graduated from UT Austin in Economics, and have now been in Austin for 8 years! I have been working in finance and marketing, both of which have been very enriching experiences. While grateful for my opportunities, it is time for a change…what will be the next big career

We know that motorcycles/F1 is very important for you – could you tell us more about it?

While I do enjoy the F1, my biggest passion rests in motorcycles. As the youngest, and most rebellious child, I have always had the urge for the extremes. My brother triggered this passion of mine (he probably is not very thrilled about it). In college, my brother only had a motorcycle as sole means of transportation. I use to ride in the back and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I use to sit on the motorcycle and smile. I then decided to get my license and a bike of my very own (I named her Gia). It all starts there…
My best friend introduced me to MotoGP back in 2010, and I had the privilege of meeting Marco Simoncelli. I was immersed in the sport and fell in love. From the smell of the burnt tires, to the screaming of the engine at high rpm’s, my life felt complete for just a moment.
The point is, I never rode tandem again! Your control is your power.

What is THE thing about Austin that captivates you the most?

THE thing about Austin that captivates me most is the people. I have met some incredible people here. Austin cultivates a melting pot. Although I have lived a minority of my time in America, I do not feel like an outsider. I embrace the Europeans and Americans coming together and teaching each other about their ways. I feel different parts of the world connect in harmony and that makes me happy.

If someone asked you what I should NOT miss while in Austin, what would reply? And what I really SHOULD miss….

Well obviously, you should not miss the EuroCircle events! 😉 The list is long:
What you should NOT miss:
Austin is very outdoorsy: lake side activities such as Kayaking, Paddle Boarding, Boating, Wake Surfing and so forth may be some of the most popular activities.
Austin is a mover and a shaker. Get involved politically: go visit the beautiful Capitol, attend sessions and get involved with organizations representing a cause you want to fight for.
Austin hosts many great restaurants, but most especially, it is the home of food trailers. Food trailers are very affordable and give you great quality for the price. My favorites: Lucky’s Puccia, Bomb Taco’s, Gradj Mahal and East Side Kings.
What you SHOULD miss:
Eating at fast food restaurants – this applies anywhere…

Anything truly memorable that has happened to you since you have lived in Austin

Yep – instead of sipping wine and cheese, I know savor beer and queso. Oh my! Is this my queue to move back? …

What really annoys you about Austin – or maybe nothing does?

PARKING! If you can walk, bike or car pool – do it!

What do you miss most from your country or Europe…in addition to the family and friends?

I mostly miss the proximity of countries. Transportation makes traveling so easy and accessible to all Europeans to go and explore different arts, cultures, landscapes, languages, foods and habitats. The world is vast and I wish I could stay connected.

Do you have a favorite Austin/area restaurant? Why….what is the good and bad about restaurant culture in your opinion in Austin.

My favorite restaurant is Justine’s. I love everything about it. The food represents French cuisine nicely and the portions are not extravagant. The wine selection is nice and affordable. What keeps me going back is the staff and atmosphere. This restaurant built their clientele on mostly word of mouth. This is the strongest marketing tool and you will have something in common with anyone you meet there. It’s like a big family reunion on the far East side of Austin.
However, I miss the art of the culinary. While Austin does have good restaurants, I feel the way the meal is appreciate and served is more like a fast turn over rather than an experience and pleasure. Not everything has to be rushed…unless you’re on a bad date.

Where and how would you live in Austin or elsewhere if money is not an obstacle?

If money were not an obstacle? Well, I would have my good friend Winn Wittman design a house for me in the Westlake area. Westlake is perfectly located: next to the lake, close to the epicenter of downtown Austin and secluded from noise and traffic. Immersed in nature but a step away from artifacts.

What do you think about the cost of living in Europe vs Austin, TX – and the standard of life and life style?

Aside from wine, education and healthcare, the cost of everyday life is much more affordable in Austin. Let’s just say that my best friend lives in a 500sqf apartment in France and pays the same price I do for living in a 1,222sqt. However, people have different priorities and perspectives on what is most important in their life style and well being…it is very subjective.

If you could change something about Austin – what would it be?

Build under ground parking.

Anything else you feel you’d like to share with us about Austin or yourself? Plan to stay here….

Nothing to add, but feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. Hook’em horns and vive la France!

Connect with Allison Berguin at EuroCircle Forums
Connect with Allison Berguin at Facebook

New York – Thomas Noe @ International Swede

Meet Thomas Noe and some others from International Swede on Tuesday, July 16 2013 at our joint Rooftop event at Gansevoort Park 

What has been your most memorable moment since living in New York?

When does one not have a memorable moment in New York? I’m born in New York, growing up in both New York and Stockholm. Hard to pick one.

How long have you lived in New York?

All my life.

What do you like to do for fun in New York?

It probably involves food. Hole in the wall over any place that requires reservations months in advance. Being more expensive doesn’t make it better in my mind.

If you could meet one person who would it be and why?

Dave Gahan as I’m a huge Depeche Mode fan. Though I’d probably be too nervous to ask any interesting questions he hasn’t heard before.

Any interesting hobbies?

Well most members of Internationalswede know that I very often like to be the DJ at our events. I’ve been collecting records and cds since I was in Junior High. Stockholm, NYC or whereever I travel you can count on me making a trek to the nearest record store. Amoeba in Los Angeles is unfortunately the last great record store in the US.

For someone who has never been to Sweden – what things would you recommend they do and see when they visit?

First make sure you visit in summer. Take a boat from the center of Stockholm to Sandhamn or any of the islands in the Stockholm archipelago. There are 25,000 to choose from.

How often to you visit Sweden and when is the best time of year to go?

Summer, preferably June. I visit at least 3-4 times per year as I’m lucky enough to have a job with a Scandinavian (Finnish) company.

What is InternationalSwede?

It’s an informal collective of young/young at heart Swedes living in NYC or LA.

When did you start InternationalSwede and what kind of events do you plan?

We started in Dec of 2001. We organize quality events,usually around Swedish holidays or Swedish events (like Eurovision or World cup) and through the miracle of the internet the word gets out.

Are you involved with any other groups in New York? If so which ones and for how long?

We’ve had a great friendship with NLBorrels.com (Dutch expats) with whom we share many of the same event venues, albeit not at the same time.

Anything else you would like to tell us about yourself or InternationalSwede?

Anyone is welcome to come to an internationalswede event, but please know the difference between Sweden and Switzerland before you show up. I’m sure the Swiss get just as annoyed at the confusion. (NO KIDDING)
Thomas Noe – runs InternationalSwede – Co-Founded, worked at Basware Inc from Stockholm Sweden

How can people connect up with you?

They can visit the site (see below), join our facebook page “Swedes in New York”, or send an email to thomas “at” internationalswede.com. What’s your website/blog?
Internationalswede.com is a blog portal for many expat Swedes living in New York or Los Angeles.

Connect with internationalswede.com
Read this article ALCAZAR visits NYC from Sweden att CNN IReport
Thomas Noe at Facebook.


Atlanta – Jul 10 2013

Photos © Eurocircle. For privacy reasons we ask you not to copy these to Facebook or other social networks

THREE SHEETS on Wednesday, July 10th – start time at 7:30 pm. They have graciously hosted our group in the past and are once again providing us their facility.

Weather permitting, we will meet outside on the upstairs patio – otherwise we will have access to the inside area.

Appetizers will be provided and free parking is available all around the place.

In the meantime, hope everyone has had a great 4th of July Holiday!!!

Salutations – Atlanta EuroCircle

SAVE-the-DATE for AUGUST: We will meet once again at the St. Regis Buckhead on Wednesday, August 7th with ‘Paces Hall’ space exclusive to our group as well as the outdoor patio. Further details on parking etc. will be provided closer to time of event….

Experience Finland as a Foreign Student

About Eldrich Rebello, our writer

Indian passport, grown up in the Arabian Gulf, graduated in India, now in Finland. Loves snow, sauna, football and Formula 1. It’s been a long ride, but it has been a lot of fun. Nicknamed ‘fish’ I’d like to include one of my favourite lines from any book ‘So long and thanks for all the fish!’ (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, D. Adams).Finland as a foreigner

Finland is not among the countries that you associate with the term globalization. With a national population equal to that of a medium sized Indian city, spread over an area slightly larger than Vietnam, you don’t expect to run into a lot of people as go along in ‘Suomi’, as the Finns call it. Yet, when you do manage to hunt down those elusive Finns, you get a taste of that pure, northern world that Finns have made their own. After living through the dreary Finnish autumn and the cold winter, in the bright summer, I can now say that I have some understanding of the Finnish way of life.

Stereotypes are often a fun place to start learning about a culture but they must be taken with a pinch of salt: you cannot generalize and several of them are often untrue. Take a look at content on the internet and you see images of a Finland as a frozen wonderland, where Santa and his reindeer roam and the average Finn stumbles through life drunk on Koskenkorva while hunting reindeer. Well, Santa does live in Finland, the winter is cold, especially if you come from a bit further away from the Arctic Circle and alcohol is part of the culture. What isn’t true is that it’s always -100C, all year long. Yes, the winter is cold and dark but it can be a lot of fun too! Ask a Finn how to raise your spirits on a cold winter’s day. Yes, people do drink, but not everyone is drunk all the time. Yet, when alcohol is part of the celebration, things are like they are in any other part of the world.

Finns riding reindeer to work while fighting polar bears is as common a sight as Australians riding a kangaroo while wrestling alligators. Apart from stereotypes and jokes, there are many aspects of Finnish culture that have to be enjoyed. The sauna usually comes as a physical and cultural shock to outsiders, mainly because of the nudity and the sudden temperature changes. Going to a sauna with your clothes on is considered rude and it most certainly will feel strange be sitting in a steamy room with buck naked men and women. After a hot sauna, Finns like to take a dip. No matter if the temperature outside is -25 and the lake is frozen over. Solution: drill a hole and get on with it. Finnish ‘sisu‘, that’s what they call it (perseverance).

Since I’m in Helsinki as a student, the student culture is what I’ve experienced the most. Being brown-skinned and black-haired among tall and mostly blond people can make you stick out and, that can be used to your advantage to chat up random people. The one thing that hits you instantly about Finnish students is that they are very interested in the world and parts of it that they have never been to. They love to hear about the Monsoon & the Shamal; they love to hear about your part of the world as much as they love telling you about theirs. And they love to see you try and speak Finnish. It is a complex language, and it’s not one that you hear a lot outside of Finland, but it can be learned and can be a lot of fun. It is true that small talk is not big in Finland. If you start talking about the weather, expect to be talking about global weather systems and the influence of Siberian winds on the temperature in Finland. I’m not joking. If you want proof of this, listen to any of Kimi Raikkonen’s press conferences: short and to the point. Aside from learning, students have an amazing culture that tries to include all students, irrespective of background.

The world associates university students with parties, drinking and sleeping during the day. Finland’s students take that a step further by wearing overalls and student caps. If you have no idea what a student cap is, it can be loosely described as a sailor’s cap, but with much more significance attached to it. The same goes for the overalls. I’ve been told that these ‘traditions’ and ‘fun’ have been limited to the technology students but are now widespread. One example of a these traditions, an annual prank (jäynä) that I recently witnessed, involved changing all the Aalto University logos on campus (basically a capital A, followed by assorted punctuation marks) back to the original TKK (Teknillinen korkeakoulu) ones. Harmless, but a good laugh. It’s also well known that Finland has one of the most relaxed dress codes in the developed world. No one would notice if their professor started lecturing while dressed as an Angry Bird. And, you really can get away with all sorts of fashion faux-pas here. I’ve seen people wearing kilts, monkey suits, horse heads and their birthday suits, all walk down the street, while the rest of Finland walks by, without flinching.

Many aspects of Finnish culture are enjoyable but one point that most agree on is the honesty of Finns. Exams are monitored, but you are expected not to cheat. You can trust the government with your tax money and you are expected not to abuse public property. You can leave your wallet by the side of the road with your contact details and €500 inside and rest assured you will get all if it back, including the €500. The world knows that you can set your watch by the Swiss trains. What it doesn’t know is that you can set your watch down to the millisecond with a Finn. 5’o clock is exactly that: 17 00. Maybe that’s why all event invites use the 24-hour system, so you can’t arrive at 2AM for a party that started at 2PM!

Finland is something that has to be experienced. There is no way that a bunch of words can match the experience of a sauna or the warmth of a home-cooked Finnish meal on a snowy winter’s day. Finland is not just the theme of a Monty Python song, but something that leaves you that much wiser about the world and it’s many ways.

Expatriates – Roope Olenius, Acting Student, From Finland via NYC to Los Angeles

I decided to interview Roope as his career choice is a bit unusual – and how he came about it is also not the most typical story. Most actors I have start very early. He played guitar, sang in heavy-metal band, played ice hockey semi-professionally and studied in business school in Finland.

Who is Roope Olenius?

I’m an acting student at the New York Film Academy’s Universal Studios campus. I’ve been studying towards my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in States for the past three years, the first year in New York, the following two in Los Angeles.

At what age did you know that you wanted to be an actor?

It was one of those things that just happened. I was really into playing heavy metal music while I was studying business at the university of applied sciences in Tampere and I decided to attend this theatre course to gain more stage charisma. That weekend changed everything. The freedom of expression and the feeling of being connected to myself and the world around got me addicted. Year and a half later I was living in New York and studying acting on Broadway.(he is now 26 in 2013)

Is there any particular moment or an achievement throughout your career that you are particularly proud of?

I would say that the most exciting project on the road has been the short film Bro Code – Kaverille Kanssa, which me and my friends in Finland put together last winter. I wrote the screenplay on side of school here in LA and we had endless preproduction Skype calls with the director who was located in Finland. During Christmas break I flew home and we filmed the piece and everything worked out beautifully. I was amazed how well we had been able to take into consideration all the details concerning the production, even though, we were located on different continents. It was a good experience, because we not only learnt how possible technology has made things, but also how easy and cheap it is to produce your own film nowadays. It was also a really personal piece for me as the writer and actor, which made it an unforgettable project, since so many people were willing to participate and make the thing happen.

What would you say is the biggest misconception that people have about your profession?

That it’s easy! It gets me boiling when somebody who watches films, or consumes art in any form, just for the sake of escaping his or her own life, says “I could do that, he’s doing nothing.” Acting or any other art form is not easy, even though it might sometimes seem like it. I think there’s a big misconception going on nowadays, because the people who get the most attention in the industry are not artists or stars who have worked to achieve their fame. They’re celebrities, who we have given the permission to entertain us, so that we could feel better about ourselves. They are not creating better change, in fact, they are an obstacle for growth, since they are not giving hope or pointing out real difficulties that we are facing. A real artist, who has dedicated time to the craft and is willing to reveal something very personal to other people, brings real human life on screen and therefore creates change in the viewer. That is everything but an easy task as it demands not only skills but great insight into life and the drive to change things. Unfortunately, we have allowed the celebrity driven industry to push art on the background, but I feel a big change is going to take place soon.

What do you enjoy most about being an actor vs. your previous life?

For me, once I made the career change from business to arts, acting was a way to reach out and find my own voice. It was a way to express myself emotionally and physically and to put everything I had learnt in the past into use. It made sense and wasn’t a question about deciding whether I wanted to do it or not. I needed to do it and I still do, because it makes me feel whole. Nowadays, however, I’ve found other ways to express myself as well. I’m really drawn towards screenwriting and producing. Also, I still want to find a place in my life for music. So, I guess I should call myself an artist. I see all those things being parts of me and leading towards the bigger goal that I have. Therefore I don’t want to label myself as being just this or that. In a way they’re just different languages that I’m using to express myself in order to fulfill my purpose here.

What have you found to be the biggest difference between acting in Finland and United States?

The biggest difference is that in Finland the actors approach the craft with a very disciplined and physical way, whereas in States it’s more about exploring the inner life and bringing the character alive by feeding your own emotions into the role that you are playing. Sometimes I think that the Finnish approach is a much healthier and liberating one, because it focuses so much on the body and we are beings that need to be physically expressive by nature. The challenge however is that it can lead to somewhat forceful pushing of emotions that the camera will not hide on the movie screen. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, but they what they do have in common, is that they both lead into beautiful expression when mastered.

What kind of people survive and do well in this field of work in your opinion?

People who understand that it’s a team game and that they’re allowed to act on their impulses. Some people like to believe that it’s only about being likable and about not giving others a reason to not like you. I don’t think that’s productive at all. I think you have to fight for the right to express yourself the way you want to in order to make good art. If you’re pleasing everyone, you’re doing something wrong. This doesn’t however mean that you should not act politely towards other people and not respect their point of views. A good thing is that nowadays, you don’t have to seek anyone’s permission to make it, because technology has developed so much. If you have something to say, I think it’s just best to be proactive and say it, because only then can you attract the like-minded towards your vision.

What advice would you give to other aspiring European actors aiming for the stars in Hollywood?

I don’t know if I’m yet in a place wherefrom I can start giving advice for other people, since I’m only trying to figure it out for myself. What I can tell is that with the Scandinavian working mentality there’s a lot to gain and one can really separate oneself from the mass of competitors by following through and really giving everything that one’s got. We’re reliable, motivated and hardworking, so there’s no reason why we should let our bad self esteem limit us. There is great potential in all the Scandinavian people. Americans are great on doing the talking, but in the end it’s what you bring on the table that speaks the loudest.

What and who captivate you in the world of the celebrities – and why?

I try to not follow the celebrity world too much as it doesn’t really offer me information that I can use to my advantage and learn something from. I like to surround myself with great authors, speakers and people who have actually made it or are currently making their way to the top, as those are the people I want to work with. One of those people, who is making it now, is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Even though, he’s been around for a while now, he is working all the time and creating himself opportunities. That kind of pro-activeness is inspiring, since he is not seeking the industry’s approval, but on contrary, changing it to better, for himself and other artists.

Nice and friendly people.

How is the Finnish community in Los Angeles? Do you see yourself returning home after graduating?

The Finnish community is surprisingly large and active here. I have no idea how many Finnish people we have overall, but within the monthly meetings and bigger events, the majority always consists of faces that I haven’t met before, which is awesome. It’s really hard to complain about the life, but to be honest, sometimes you miss home quite a lot. I don’t really now what’s going to happen after school and whether I’m going to stay here or not. I find that kind of liberating as I want to do something different with my life. I guess time will tell what happens. What I do know is that I want to have an international career in arts and travel a lot without sacrificing my cultural background.

What does the future hold for you?

Well, I just finished shooting my thesis film for the school, which I will now go into post-production with. Aside that and all the presentations and final exams before graduation, the school is not employing me too much. Therefore, I’m creating quite actively projects that I can start working on once I get out and hopefully supporting myself with. I’m writing a short film, which I will shoot in fall with the same crew that we made Bro Code – Kaverille Kanssa with. Also, I’m planning to travel to Australia to spend some time with my little brother, who is studying aviation there, because we haven’t been able to spend too much time together within the past three years. I’m so happy to graduate and start the life outside of school finally. After being in school for almost the past 18 years without interruptions, where everything is graded and you’re forced to follow certain ideas about life, it is so exciting to jump into the life where my decisions will have direct results and everything is possible. I guess, it’s a sign that the school has done it’s job, since my mindset has changed about this upcoming period of change within the past year quite radically. Without the skill set that I’ve acquired through my education and all the wonderful experiences here in States, I would probably not feel as confident about the future as I do now.

Website: www.roopeolenius.com
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