New York – Ana Calvo de Luis, Coolture New York (Spain)

Ana Calvo de Luis found EuroCircle – or we found Ana during 1999 when we started EuroCircle events in NYC. I still recall how she got us some fantastic tapas and cheeses donated for this cool gothic place in Tribeca called NV. I am sure it does not exist anymore!

When did you move to the US? Where are you originally from?

Originally from Spain, I have lived one quarter of my life in Argentina, another quarter in Europe, mainly Spain, and a third one in the USA.
I moved to New York in the late 90’s. As everyone that moves to New York, I thought I would just stay a couple of years, and then irremediably felt in love with the city and just became another Newyorker at heart.

New York has a ‘je ne se quoi”, or maybe they put something in the water, but it definitely has a different beat that makes you vibrate with the excitement of the possibitilies. A collage of architecture, art, business and cultures, it is a city that doesn’t leave you indifferent: either your love it or you hate it. It is a city for dreamers, you can enjoy anything your heart may desire, and you can achieve anything you put your mind to, but if you are not careful it can ask a high price for it. The career opportunities in New York are unbelievable, but striking a balance with personal life, especially in heart affairs, can prove challenging.

Tell us a little about yourself such as what you do for work etc..?

I am a very positive, open, curious and versatile woman; therefore, I have always been open to good and exciting opportunities. Therefore, my CV is quite broad and versatile, and not too boring to read about, I hope.

I have served as Head of Corporate Communication and Investor Relations of Banco Santander for the US and Latin America; Legal Counsel for Ernst and Young and Humanitarian Aid representative for Medicos del Mundo, (Medicins du Monde), and UNCHR in the former Yugoslavia. In search of a more creative environment, I then took a year vacation and started my own line of footwear and accessories , successfully placing my brand in all best Fashion magazines and more than 100 stores all over the US including renowned stores like Barneys, Nordstrom or the Four Seasons resort stores. Then, looking to share all that experienced to help other brands, I founded Coolture, a Consulting and Communication Company offering a broad menu of customized services designed to help companies in the growth potential in the American market, including the development of Corporate reputation through promotional and cultural event planning.

Nowadays, Coolture has found a nich in creating high quality fashion, art and branding events in cutting-edge private and public spaces, so that they are known globally and produce unique opportunities where ordinary people encounter authentic, ever-changing experiences in multiple forms and media.

I am excited to share that we have organized some critically acclaimed cultural, fashion and corporate events. Recent projects through Coolture in New York city include the Spain Art Festival: Video Art, Installation and Performance Festival in Times Square, New York; the Madrid Art Walk, Art Exhibition promoting the art work of the three larger museums of Madrid: Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza y Museo Reina Sofia, Grand Central Station, New York; numerous Art exhibitions and fashion shows for New York Fashion week, including Fashion Show for Preen, Terenxov or Project Runway winner Leanne Marshal; Follow the red, Soho Mile, exclusive fashion night out for renowned brands such as Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Camper, Custo Barcelona, Mango, Mascaro-Pretty Ballerinas, Tierra and Tous; the opening of Lladro store in Madison Avenue or the Rioja wines Tames the Flame consumer event in New York.

Nowadays, among other things and with all the accrued expertise I am excited to create and develop with my team, fun and successful events with solid content, blending business and cultural interests which often times we have the pleasure of shearing with Eurocircle.

Do you go back to where you are from often?

I love Spain and Europe. Life has a different pace there, a quality lifestyle which is usually lost in translation while living abroad. And mostly, there lives my family, which I love dearly and like to see as much as possible.

I have always been very lucky to combine work and pleasure, and I have always been able to go back to Spain quite often, two or three times a year.
Spain is a an amazing country, full of warm people, nice family style, with great entertainment, great weather, and great combination of quiet and social lifestyle at will. Plus you can hop on a plane or train and just be anywhere in Europe in a couple of hours to visit friends!

When is the best time of year to go to Spain?

The best time to visit Spain is… anytime. But it strongly depends on what you would like to do. For example, Spring and Summer is wonderful to enjoy all the great beach areas we have all around Spain! Marbella y Malaga, Puerto de Santa Maria, Valencia, San Sebastian, Santander, or any of the Islands, Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera…
In the Autumn and Spring, a special and unexpected trip f you want to enjoy old and new experiences, is to do the Camino de Santiago, a beautiful pilgrimage trip through northern Spain. This trip, that can start anywhere you want, from the South of France to Santiago de Compostela, in the North west of Spain, will transport you to medieval times, since by foot, bike or even horse; with small or large budgets, will take you through beautiful landscapes, peoples and foods, but most importantly, through an amazing trip of the heart.
In Fall and Spring or even Winter, Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Segovia, Toledo, Avila, Pamplona, Rioja, Cordoba will take your breath away, and you would love the food too!
Finally, close to my heart and a true gem, is visiting the land of wine, La Rioja, the most renowned land of wine in Spain, is full of vineyards, monasteries, amazing architecture and wonderful people. You will be impressed by this blend of the old and new worlds, enjoying one of the best wines in the world paired with tapas to die for!
In any case, once again, feel free to reach us to Coolture Spain and we will help you sort out any questions you might have of Spain.

What are your favorite Spanish dishes? Where can you find great Spanish cuisine?

Spanish food is unbelievably good, both traditional and modern cuisine. In fact, in the List of best restaurants in the world 2013, 3 Spanish restaurants are in the first 10 positions. Article:
I love tapas, as in life my favorite way of enjoying food: a variety of small plates that gives you a broad range of wonderful tastes and options. I could give you a long list of favorite dishes, mostly in Spanish, including tortilla de patatas, gambas al ajillo, paella, jamon Serrano con tomate y pan tostado, croquetas…
But I believe the best would be to show you. May be we could organize a Spanish tapas expedition in New York through Eurocircle to show you exactly why food from Spain’s food is consider one of the best in the world these days.

What is your favorite music?

All of it, including classical and even if I can’t remember any names.I have to admit that if I find someone playing beautifully in the subway or any street, I would probably be late for my meeting and a few dollars poorer. But mostly, my favorite is the one I enjoy in Ibiza, where some of the best DJ’s in the world hang out, while you watch the Sunset or the Sunrise…

What if any are the misconceptions of Spain and Spanish people? What should people know about Spain such as Spanish culture vs what people usually think and know?

Spain and its people usually don’t market themselves as well as they should, so there are plenty of misconceptions. The best way to get to know Spain better and learn about all the wonderful things that had been happening there in the last 20 years, I would encourage everybody to plan a visit to Spain soon.

Recently, I had to prepare a lecture at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I was creating a Spanish inspired competition for its students and had to motivate them speaking about our culture and art. I started to talk to them about some of our painters such as Velazquez, Goya, Picasso, Dali, Miro, Sorolla, and ended up running out of time… There is so much creativity, quality and beauty in our culture, that you just to come see to believe.

What do you think about the economy of Spain? Does it affect you?

The economy in Spain right now is in deep recession with a high unemployment rate. That of course affects me, since it is heart breaking to see so much talent wasted and such hard situation for so many people. Thankfully, the Spanish family is the best in the whole world: so loving, strong, so reliable and close, that they are the ones thanks to which things are not completely falling apart.

In any case, this tough situation, as many in life should be taken as a perfect opportunity for people to invest in Spain, both in their real state, their companies and its people. This strong land and it’s amazing culture and people will definitely get out stronger from this recession. It is a great opportunity to visit Spain and to invest in Spain, it is a sturdy country, with the best weather in Europe and so many treasures to be discovered, things will certainly get better.

What are the great groups/association from Spain that are located in NY?

If you are interested in getting to know Spain better, for business or pleasure, you can always reach us at Coolture Spain, a branch of our Coolture company, where we can always get some time to tell you more about this great country as well as get you in touch with the right people.
Additionally, I could recommend a bunch of good Spanish institutions based in New York, but as a sneak peak:
a. The Spanish Consulate, Cultural Department, where you can find out about all the cultural programming going on in the city
b. Chamber of Commerce US-Spain, private institution that organizes lots of great galas, and who can help you with questions about Spanish companies
c. Gabarron Foundation, cool private art institution located in Midtown with very interesting art and event programming.
d. Instituto Cervantes, one of the oldest Spanish oganizations with interesting cultural Spanish and Latinamerican activities and moreover, where you can learn some very good Spanish lessons

Is there anything else you would like to share with EuroCircle members?

New York is a wonderful city, and should be thoroughly enjoyed. Don’t let the fast pace of its inhabitants deter you, once you break through, you can find incredibly nice, talented and warm people. Eurocircle, with magnificent Kaisa and Alex, is a wonderful open group that greats all new comers and will help you have a great start.
Make a list of all the things you want to accomplish in New York and get them done! Don’t let for tomorrow what you can do today. You think you have plenty of time, till you realize is time to go. If you want to try new things, explore new career possibilities, reinvent yourself, this is your place. No matter how much out of the box or outrageous, no one will make fun of you because everybody is just a little bit bolder and forward thinking out here.
And no matter when you leave and where you go next, believe me, some of you will stay, and some of this crazy city will always be with you. For good or for better, you will forever be, a New Yorker.

Connect with Ana Calvo de Luis

LinkedIn: Ana Calvo de Luis


Helsinki – Richard Berman (UK),

Who is Richard, can you tell us more about you and your family – and what do you do/where?

My name is Richard Berman from London England. My education is in Business and Finance, I left home when I was 18 years old to travel the world and DJ along the way , but I got as far as the channel Islands Guernsey where I spent the next 3 years as a club and bar DJ. I met my wife on the Island. She is Finnish and blond and that was it for me – I fell in love. I had always told my friends that my dream would be to meet a hot Swedish Blond , but hey I was close 🙂 . We stayed in Guernsey for a while and then moved to the UK mainland for half a year helping a friend open his own pub. We then moved to Helsinki Finland, married and had two children , Demi who is now 12 years old and Gabi who is 9. I was a very lucky expat – the very next day after moving to Finland my wife’s family gave me a full time job in print and mailing. I have now worked there for 16 years.

You grew up in a very different area compared to Finland. Can you tell us more about it compared to Finland?

I grew up in London in the 80′s and 90′s I was to young to remember much of the 70′s which is a shame as they seemed more enjoyable time than the 80′gs. I can not really compare much as I only went to school in the UK and did not really work there, but the school system that I went though I would never want that for my children, there where always so many problems , fights, crime and there was not much learning in the classrooms , I always had the feeling that 90% of the teachers had given up and just turned up at work to make sure they got their pay check. In Finland my children enjoy school and have a high level of intelligence , this is one reason why I would never plan on moving back to the UK.

I do miss the British why of people saying good morning when you pass them in the street, and most of all I miss been able to walk into a shop and pick up a newspaper. As I am from London nothing really worries me about Helsinki, it’s nice that it is small and I love knowing my way around a city.

What has been the most exciting “thing” or role that you’ve covered during your career?

As I said I have always worked full time for the family business , but what makes me happy is playing music, I spent the first 3 years in Finland playing in night clubs in Helsinki and Vantaa and I really do miss it , I gave it up because of the children , It was not good Daddy coming home at 5 am and them wanting to play game with me at 7 am , it was too much. But now the children are older I have started getting back into it and I am enjoying it very much.

As far as I can tell you are not the “average” expat, you have done many interesting things with associations and so on. Can you tell more about them, please?

I have been the President of the non-profit group IESAF for around 6 years now, IESAF ry has been going since 2004, and it is growing every year. The service that we offer is to people moving to Finland and expats that are already here. We host a number of events from information nights on living in Finland, Bankings , jobs etc and other events for families so that the children can all play together in English.

A list of other events are

Pub quiz
Curry nights
Bar nights
Whiskey tasting nights
Iesaf knitting club
Iesaf Helsinki play group
Iesaf networking and business events
Bowling nights
Lazor shooting
Paint ball
Walking tours
Biking tours
And many more

Other than the events IESAF has its on WIKI page full of information needed when living or coming to Finland, but what we are most about is making sure people do not feel they are alone in Finland. We work with other groups and share events. We get no financial help from any where .

We also try not just to be in Helsinki/Vantaa/Espoo we have IESAF Turku and IESAFTampere and we are always looking for people around the rest of Finland who could start chapters in their area.

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

The best thing I am proud of is when members email me to thank IESAF for all the help we gave them and it was all for FREE, that makes me feel that we have done a good job. The best moment was an American walking into the IESAF pub quiz and me meeting him and chatting for around 5 minutes about the reasons he was in Finland,after he told me he was looking for a job in banking and standing right next to me was my friend and banker I introduce them both and within a week my now very good friend the American was sitting behind his new desk working for a Finnish bank. It makes me happy to see all our members out and about having a great with each other.

I now find it hard to even go to Turku and people saying they know me from somewhere, or are you Richard 🙂

What would you say is the biggest misconception that people have Finland vs. your country in your opinion? How does your family feel about that?

The biggest misconception my Mother and Father have I think is that they always say how rude people are pushing past them in the streets and bumping into them. My mother always says that she feels people are walking into her all the time when she visits Helsinki.

There was also a message on the Finland IESAF group the other day. A woman and her family are moving to Finland – and she wanted to know if it is true if it is DARK all year round.

What kind of people survive and do well in Finland as an expat in your opinion?

In my own opinion anyone can make it in Finland. However, it takes a lot of hard work to do it, to survive is to learn the language. Yes many locals do speak English and many other languages – but there are still many who only speak Finnish. Also you have to network, make friends , I have both expats and Finns as friends. We do all get together for some great nights out, also network to make contacts. You never know this may be the way of getting your foot in the door for a job.

Are there any stereotypes of Finns that you expected (good or bad) that actually turn out to be true?

Yes some of the stereotypes are very true, shell suits (shiny tracksuits from the 80′s) can still been seen here, socks and sandals and black leather jackets. But you have to give respect to the Finns, only the other day I saw a guy in my local supermarket wearing just his Speedo swimming pants, shopping , and no one even took a second look.

What advice would you give to other aspiring Expatriates aiming for success in Finland? What are the traits you think Finnish people admire and appreciate?

What I would say is learn the language that will help you to open many doors. Otherwise you will be limited what jobs you can do, and the Finnish people do appreciate if you can speak it, even though most of them speak English.

What do you miss most from your own country – think you ever return to live back there? And how is the expat community in Finland…

The only thing I miss about the UK is a larger choice of goods to buy, the history and a wide range of things to do and my family. I will never move back to the UK , when I am there I cant wait to return to my home Finland

Tell us about your family in Finland? How do you feel about education here vs. your country? Do you see much differences with kids in Finland and school?

I love the schools in Finland. I think my school in London let me down, my children are doing very well and they seem to be learning very fast. The classes seem a lot smaller and I think the shorter school days really help the children not to get bored, I was at school from 8 am till 15.45pm every day and it did feel so long and boring. I love the fact that they get a ten week summer break.

Connect withIESAF

LinkedIn: Richard Berman
An article at – Life & society
By Fran Weaver, October 2013
Finland makes multilingualism easy


Austin – Emma Hochman (Cartmell) UK,

Emma Hochman (Cartmell in business)and her husband Jason Hochman are probably one of the most fun couples you can meet in Austin. Let’s see if we can find out some more details about Emma…Thanks to Emma for taking the time during her busy week.

Emma, you are originally from the UK? You moved to Austin, TX a few years ago, didn’t you – and we found you via EuroCircle if I recall correctly?

I am originally from London, England. I have been in the US for 11 years. The first place I lived in the US was Austin Teaxs, I was here for approximately 2 years before I moved to DC for 4 years followed by San Diego for 2 years and LA for 2 years. I moved back here to Austin 21 months ago (I have lived all over the world and this is the only place I have come back to). With in weeks of moving here I heard about the Eurocircle and joined

Why did you move back to Austin?

The People! I really love Austinites – and I married one! Outside of falling in love with my husband, I really enjoy the people and the lifestyle. From my first day at work in Austin to now I can (hand on heart) say these are the friendliest and most welcoming folks I have ever had the pleasure to get to know. I was invited to dinner at my colleague’s house in my first week at work and had a team around me like family. California was beautiful but very lonely, in DC I found that people wanted to know what I did before they wanted to know my name or anything about me. In Austin you get to be who you are.

What do you enjoy most about Austin, now you have more experience of living here, how’s the quality of life compared to UK?

After the people it’s the lifestyle. I love that this is an all year round outdoors city. I run town lake every other day, Kayak once a week, bike, play tennis, sail, go to yoga and swim in the beautiful swimming holes as much as possible. The weather in England didn’t really allow for such an outdoor lifestyle. For some reason I vividly remember my last trip to the supermarket in London 11 years ago – it was pouring rain I had 4 bags of groceries and had to walk 2 miles home because my car had been stolen. My option was to put up my umbrella hoping it didn’t blow inside out and have my grocery bags cut in my hand or balance the bags on my umbrella stopping my hands from getting cut up with the bag but then get wet – I guess it’s the small things!

Usually there are some negatives, what are the ones for Austin that really stand out for you personally? What do you miss most about home?

I miss my family most. I did really want a direct flight from London to Austin so that my family can visit more easily. I am so happy that BA is starting that flight in March of next year. I hope other airlines join BA soon.

Do you think your career would be the same in UK – or does this work better for you? Either way, please explain more.

The Career opportunities in America are exceptional. I leaned very quickly that neither age nor gender mattered in America, only that I was a results driven person who worked hard. I had to start at the bottom over here as my UK degrees (BSc and MSc) were not recognized by the Texas start up company I joined. However my work was rewarded quickly and within three years of starting at the bottom of a company in Austin, I was made a VP of a publically traded company in DC, after that the COO of a publically traded company in LA, then the COO of a billion dollar private equity fund. I am now a co-founder of a consulting company, helping companies in the healthcare field with go to market strategy and business development. In just 10 years I had completed a career in America that if I had stayed home would not have been possible.

Did you feel Austin is a good place for you as an entrepreneur right now? Why?

Absolutely Austin is a great city to be an entrepreneur! There is an entire eco system that supports Austin entrepreneurs as well as the broad angel investment community, incubators, and VC’s who are keen to invest in Austin based companies. I work in the Health IT field and am very excited about the pace at which Health IT and biotech companies are coming to Austin and the newly approved Dell Medical School will only help accelerate that pace. Corporate taxes are low and talent pool is huge. If we could get a few more direct flights to San Francisco, Boston, NYC and DC it would be even better.

What are the best places/suburbs to live in Austin in your opinion?

I live downtown in the heart of the city and can’t imagine being happier anywhere else. Downtown has changed the most in the 8 years I have been away. I love that it is becoming more and more pedestrianized; bike paths are springing up (we still need a lot more), and car sharing services make it a really manageable city. I try to support all of the local shops, bars and restaurant as much as possible as the city grows.

What’s the cost of living compared to UK? What is cheap or expensive in particular?

Housing, taxes, goods, gas, cars are much cheaper in the US in general. The UK is very expensive, the only thing I can think of that is cheaper is French wine!

Did you think it is easy meeting people and making friends in Austin?

YES! The easiest place in the world. I have business friends through Austin HIMSS Chapter and the Austin women in Business networking group. European friends through EuroCircle. Friends from when I first lived here, friends that have moved here because I keep telling everyone how great it is, friends that live in my building, friends through all my sports and activities and friends with my husband! I am never alone!

How does the work culture differ from UK? (health care, clothing, customs, women, manners, food, alcohol, hygiene etc)

I think that Americans work much harder and much longer hours. It is a performance driven culture. By that I mean that you are rewarded for performance – plane and simple, if you find yourself in the bottom 10% you are laid off for “economic reasons”. In the UK you can cruise in a job for years, its really hard to get fired because the British and European laws make it very hard for employers to fire employees. Additionally, while I was working in the UK I was told that to get promoted in my job I had to keep my head down for 10 years and I would get promoted. I think that this has been the most striking difference. !

Did you have any misconceptions about Texas that have turned out to be super wrong….or vice versa, you thought something will be great and it is exactly the other way around?

For the first time I have finally understood what Bernard Shaw meant when he suggested that the English and Americans are two countries divided by a common language! It is very much true. I thought that I would be able to understand everyone and they me because we all speak English but it turns that English words mean very different things in American. I really wasn’t expecting that.

The second surprise was that Texas is in full support of Capital Punishment, I was taught that it is a medieval punishment outlawed in the UK before I was born. Imagine my surprise when on my first day in Texas, while in the cab from the airport to where I was staying, I saw a road blocked because of protestors. I asked the driver what was going on and he said, “these crazy people are upset that a man is going to receive the lethal injection today and they are hoping to change the governors mind”. My mind was boggled and I was forced to think about a topic I had never considered. It was the first of many! There are many social topics still being debated in Texas that were settled many years ago in Europe, I was expecting the US to be more modern in their opinions.

What are your favorite restaurants/bars here in Austin (WHY) – and socially/workwise – what kind of networks do you attend to connect with people for business/personal life?

Oh food and drink, my favorite topics! I love Personal Wine for wine (incredible choices of European wine), Café Josie for lunch (its quite so you can really talk to who you are with and the food is packed with flavor without the portions being too big), Trace for brunch (the free Mimosa and perfectly cooked eggs benedict, and live Jazz make this place for me), Whole foods fish bar for a quick dinner with my husband (cheap and delicious), Franklins for BBQ – I think it really is the best in the world! Swifts Attic for dinner with friends. Jezebels for a special occasion – The meal is created to your likes and dislikes based on your interview when you arrive, the wine parings are magnificent and the service mind blowing.

Is there any other advice you would like to offer new expat arrivals at Austin?

Join the EuroCircle, I have made some of my best friends through this group. I am so grateful to Kaisa for starting this group also in Austin. My other advice is don’t plan ahead too much like you are socially trained to in Europe. Austinites are spontaneous and the best nights are never planned. Be open to Austin, you will be surprised how happy you can be here.

Kaisa’s comment: The European community in Austin is small compared to what it is in NYC from where I moved here 2009 or 2010. It was very difficult to get started with EuroCircle since I did not know anyone in the city. EuroCircle was so established in NYC since 1999 (15th year anniversary in Jan 2014) – without the help of Antonia Warren (Casa de Espana Austin) and Carla Wilkenfeld helping us to get started at the Austonian we’d never had gotten started here. Just like Emma I have made most of many, probably in my case most of my connections via EuroCircle.
By the way, as all of you know I would love to interview more European entrepreneurs, start-ups here in Austin!

Connect with Emma Hochman (Cartmell)
Facebook: Emma Hochman (Cartmell)

Munich – Tuija Komi, From Munich to New York as a Jazz Singer

Tuija, please introduce yourself?

My name is Tuija Komi and I come from Finland –“the land of the thousand lakes” or as I like to say “from the land of the midnight sun”. Now I live in Munich in Germany. I moved to Germany for just one year and now it has been 18 years! I have studied Business Administration in Finland and then I specialized in Export Business between Finland and German speaking countries. So I wanted to get some working experience also on-site, in Germany.
My family, mother, father and two younger sisters live in Finland. I have a German boy-friend.

When and why did you start playing/singing – and which instruments do you play?

I have been singing as long as I can remember, the usual stuff like at the school the solos in the choir in all possible events that we celebrated at school. I took part as a teenager in singing competitions and even won a couple of. However I did not figure it out that singing could be more for me, meaning studying it “seriously” and making it to a profession.
For many years I have been singing in bands, first in Finland and then in Germany. In a soul band in Frankfurt, or in a jazz combo with eight musicians. I also had my own band.
It was in 2006 after I had resigned from Siemens and was “re-starting” my life when I thought “it’s now or never”. So I decided to go for singing. The first thing was to study singing. I was lucky to be accepted at the music college in Frankfurt to study jazz and pop voice, in the age of 37 years! I got more hungry in learning so I studied more pop music and became an “acknowledged teacher by the government” for music in a music school.

What was the first tune(s) you learned?

I do not remember the very first songs in the first classes at school but as I started to sing in a professional band in early nineties in Finland, I learned with Ella Fitzgerald (singing to her LPs) many many jazz standards such as “The lady is a tramp”, “Girl from Ipanema” and many more –I still sing some of those songs.

Is your family musical? Describe your family member’s musical interests and abilities.

My grandfather played accordion and sang a little and my mum inherited it from him. She took us to piano lessons as we were kids. She saved the money and bought a piano for us at home.

Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

Ella was my absolute queen of jazz for the first years. I like her wonderful voice and her charming stage presence –everyone remembers Ella scatting! From the current star jazz vocalists I like Kurt Elling and Dianne Reeves. They both have great voices and technique and fun when performing –that is very important. I have always liked soul and funk, Stevie Wonder is a multitalented who I admire a lot. I have been lucky to get to know Dusk Goykovic, who is a Serbian world-star trumpeter and composer living in Munich. He has been a mentor to me since a couple of years. I have written lyrics to his beautiful compositions –one is on my new album. Another one is written, hopefully more to follow.
There is so much good music in the world and great musicians, who I would like to mentione and honor that it would be a very long list …

What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town? Write songs/What are you own musical ambitions?

You’re never “done” as a singer and so I would like to visit master classes by great singers to learn new things and to develop myself further. I am also teaching so that is very important to stay up-to-date.

I have started writing my own songs and I would like to have more time for that and to write more songs. Also I would like to be able to play piano better. So many dreams…

Have you been in competitions? Any prizes?

I was about my twenties as I won a couple of competitions in Finland. As I started singing full-time I was already too old for competitions as they are for YOUNG people. The age limit is usually 25. I won the second prize in the international competition for Female Jazz Vocalists called “Lady Summertime” in 2000 in Finland.

Where do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV?

I do concerts in jazz and concert venues and festivals. We have played in Finland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Portugal, Spain and New York.
We also play at corporate events and I like to sing in the churches for the wedding ceremonies, just “a cappella”.
My new album “something” has been presented on the radio in some shows and interviews as well as in jazz press and newspapers. It has got good reviews and I am so happy about that.
The CD has been released in April this year by GLM Music Munich and distributed into Austria, Belgium, England, Finland, France, Germany, Switzerland and even to Japan! It’s world-wide available for online download at iTunes, music load and Amazon.

I am looking forward to see what the press will write about it in New York…
The CD release in New York is on Monday 7th October at the ZINC BAR, a fantastic jazz venue with an authentic atmosphere on Manhattan in New York. I have a great band with musicians straight from New York with me on the stage.
The address is 82 West 3rd Street (btw Thompson & Sullivan) in Greenwich Village New York. For reservations phone: 212 477 ZINC.
I would be excited to share this thrilling event with Euro Circle members in NYC.

How do you balance your music with other obligations – mate, children?

As you have made your passion to your profession it is so difficult to separate these things. You’re the one and same person, it is IN you. It can be just before falling asleep that you get a good idea, it could be a song (this usually happens in the nights and I can’t sleep. Then I move to my piano and try to play it quietly without awakening the neighbors). However it is important to get some distance from the passion too, to reload your “creative reservoir”. I do this by traveling and spending time in the nature.

Do you spend time every year in Finland? I guess I am asking also would you prefer staying here in Germany no matter what (If yes or no, why…)

At least once a year I have to get to Finland. It is so wonderful there in the summer. The best thing for me is to go to sauna and to swim in the lake next to it I grew up. It is so wonderful there; I love the peace and the space.

Could you share with us how you first found out about EuroCircle?

It must have been (you) Kaisa, who I first contacted. I was coming to visit New York and then you asked me to get in touch with Alexandra. She asked me to co-host one event which I was very happy to do.

Connect with Tuija Komi’s artist website

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Contact: info(at)tuijakomi(dot)de
Mobile phone: +49 170 2283 720.


Kalle Bergman – The Swedish Editor-in-Chief for Honest Cooking in NYC

I would like to introduce you to Kalle Bergman who is Editor-in-Chief for Honest Cooking. That is an international online culinary magazine that truly changes the face of online food media. Honest Cooking features over 300 of the world’s food & beverage writers, bloggers, photographers and Chefs, in a magazine that aims to become the leading and most inspiring place for serious culinary debate, salivating recipes, interesting food news and international food-fun. They aim to be smaller, quicker, funnier, smarter and more interesting than all of the current established food websites.

Kalle, please tell us about yourself ?

My name is Kalle Bergman. I am a native Swede who has spent about 11 years in Denmark, Spain, France and the US. Food writer and entrepreneur in the food media industry with a blurry background in advertising and fashion. I am the founder and Editor of the food magazine Honest Cooking. Family man with an amazing Danish wife Christina, and our beautiful son Charlie.

What is your typical day like in New York? Work and personal…

With a 9 month old at home, most of my personal life revolves around family time. I try to get home to dinner with my wife and son every day, and instead get to work very early during busy periods. I generally walk to work, and spend most of the day with my team in the Honest Cooking office in Manhattan, or visiting clients around the city. Weekends are dedicated to my family and friends, trying to get the most out of the city together.

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

Mostly practical stuff, like getting a health insurance for my wife who was pregnant at the time, and making sure we had Internet and cell phone service hooked up as soon as possible. All that stuff is more or less the same wherever you move, just with a few tweaks here and there. It takes time, but is hardly ever truly difficult to figure out.

Has your experience in NYC has been vastly different from what you expected compared to for example life in Spain?

Actually not very different from what I expected, but certainly different from Spain. Living in Marbella was very casual, and wearing flip flops 10 months of the year made every day have an element of holiday, even if I worked about as much as here. New York City doesn’t really have that same vibe, if you know what I mean…

Did you experience ‘culture shock’ in USA. How different is it from Sweden or other countries you have lived in?

It took some time for me to get used to the open way of connecting with anyone, anywhere here. Like talking to random people in the street, the grocery store and the restaurant – the lack of personal sphere. Now, I am more used to it, and sometimes find it weird how people back in Sweden have such a hard time interacting with other people unless they really know them well.

How has your life as an expat influenced your personal and work life? Maybe some comments how you do feel being an entrepreneur in NYC differs from being one in European countries?

Hugely, it is of one of the most important aspects of my family’s life – that we live in another country. And we have picked up bits and pieces of culture and life from each country we have lived in. Being an entrepreneur in NYC is in many ways amazing, all the opportunities are here – but it is also very much the essence of being an entrepreneur here, no one else is going to do it for you. So just have to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.
Another difference is that people are always very eager to connect professionally here, something we can learn from in Europe. We are often overprotective of our own networks, and miss out on opportunities. Here, on the other hand, sometimes you get connections very easily that turn out to be more or less useless – so you have to learn how to handle that as well.

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

That it is amazing to experience living in another country, and that most places – at their core – are quite similar. With the cultural differences peeled away, we have roughly the same passions, problems, fears and dreams. And the same stuff is going on in every city.
The negative aspect, especially if you hang out with a lot of other expats – is that you are saying good bye a lot. People move back home, so if you are not in that mode yourself, you will be “losing” a lot of friends along the way.

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

Not really. But I did become a dad after three months here, so that experience has been mind blowing enough.

What’s the best food discovery in NYC you’ve made as an expat? The worst?

Just the sheer volume of restaurants and new restaurants opening everyday. The worst is the pretzel, I just don’t get it. It’s too damn dry for me.

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

I think a lot of people expect NYC to be super cool, all the time, every day. But after a while you realize that most people you meet on the streets are not on their way to a fashion shoot or a red carpet event. They are heading to the bank, to pick up the kids or to buy groceries. And that’s when you realize if you truly love living here, of if you were better off just visiting from time to time.

What do you miss from Sweden or Spain? Is there any place here you consider really SWEDISH in some way in NYC.

I don’t miss Sweden as a country, but I miss my friends and family there. From Spain I miss the beach, and obviously 300 days of sun every year. We know all of the Nordic chefs in NYC well, so whenever we get homesick, we head for Aquavit, Aska, Aamanns or ACME for a Nordic dinner.

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

The best thing is all the amazing people and experiences we’ve had. The worst? I don’t know. Probably, again, all the good byes you say when people leave.

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

I try not to compare them too much, I have enjoyed every single country I have lived in on its own merits. But I do love the sense of everything being possible here in the US, and how interaction with others is such an important fabric of society.

What is best about the area where you live…any other cities you would like to live in??

I love living close to the park, as it is such an oasis in this city. Other cities? I am open to anything, and my wife is too, but New York fits our lives very well. And business wise, I am completely focused on what we are doing here.

Where do you see yourself in the future? WHY?

I can definitely see myself and my family here in NYC in the future. It is a great city, and it provides so many opportunities for interesting developments and interactions.
We are not involved really with any organized international groups in NYC, but we have a lot of Scandinavian and European friends in addition to our US friends. We try to mix and match as much as possible, to avoid being trapped in our own culture.

Connect with Kalle Bergman at

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Austin – September 26 2013

Join us at this elegant not-so-typical Austin rooftop – bring a few new friends with you. Attire: trendy, chic preferred.

Drink specials:
$5 Tito’s Cocktails and $3 Lone Star Beers.

Szilvia, Adnan, Alexandra Brenda-Lee, Allison, Katerina, Nadiya, Kaisa & EuroCircle Austin Team

About Rio Rooftop:
Rio Rooftop is West 6th’s latest nightlife addition. It includes 2 floors of world-class hospitality and entertainment. It’s fifteen thousand square food venue is sure to accommodate any party’s needs. The entire venue offers rich décor and unparalleled high end ambiance. On Rio rooftop’s second floor they offer a wide range of shared plates and specialty cocktails in a casually chic setting, along with a lounge and bottle service area. The third floor rooftop provides spectacular skyline views, cabana and lounge seating and a singular daytime pool scene. Day parties in Austin may never be the same!

As the elevator door opens on the second level, a chic lounge atmosphere awaits. Attention to detail is apparent in the rich ambiance of RIO, which continues on the third floor featuring Austin’s only rooftop pool complemented by magnificent views of the skyline. Cabanas, chaise lounges and bottle service areas flank the sides of the pool, setting the scene that is RIO’s exclusive rooftop. Cabana hosts and hostesses will provide guests with a full menu, also available downstairs, and house-crafted cocktails. The perfect way to party under the sun, RIO is ready to reset the clock for nightlife. As the sun dips below the skyline, RIO’s rooftop will transform into Austin’s ultimate nightlife destination. Glass
slides over the pool offering guests the chance to not only walk, but dance on water.”

Direct quote from

Houston – September 25 2013

Our mixer this month is in the Heights popular Crisp Wine, Beer & Eatery.

This hot wine bar has an old world flare with a new world influence and offers over 100 hand selected fine wines and seasonal craft brew. Take a bottle of wine for a test run with the Enomatic wine dispensing/preservation system, which gives guests the luxury to taste test before committing to a bottle.

See you all there for some good wine and good time. Cheers

Shahla & Mary Beth

About Crisp:
CRISP’s recently renovated single story, 6,000 sq. foot building sits alone on a corner lot in the heart of Shady Acres neighborhood in the Heights. With a 5,000 sq. foot patio/garden, CRISP is the perfect place to dine, meet friends or have drinks after work. CRISP offers a chef inspired menu focusing on a Stone Deck Fired Pizza, over 100 hand-selected fine wines, and 24 craft beers on tap, for an elegantly casual dining experience.

Chicago – Sep 20 2014

There’s still time to show off your summer tan and show some skin before we retire our sandals and summer clothes for the season!

EuroCircle and Y Bar Present: FALL BALL @ Y BAR
Friday, September 20

Usher in the fall with night of fun, fashion and friends at River North’s favorite unltralounge. We’d love to see you debut your new threads for the new season AND hear about everyone’s fabulous summer travels!!!
And don’t forget- Y Bar has a great new dance floor that was positively packed thanks to DJ’s Curley and Castro!

$7 featured seasonal vodka cocktails

Beats by Curley & Castro

Mention EUROCIRCLE at the door for free admission BEFORE MIDNIGHT!

Austin – September 19 2013

The September Concert and Austin’s Welcoming Cities Launch Celebration

** This event is free and open to the public. Free parking will be available in the City Hall Garage.***

Submitted By: City of Austin International Economic Development Program
The September Concert is a celebration of peace and humanity through music. The September Concert was born in 2002 as a small, local grassroots effort and has steadily evolved to be an event of global proportion with a mission to promote global peace. From Cap Haitien to Ukraine and Tokyo, there are now over 200 September Concerts across the world.

Austin Sister Cities International has hosted Austin’s September Concert for the past 11 years.

In keeping with its founding tenets and coinciding with National Welcoming Week 2013, this year the September Concert will feature the official launch of Austin’s Welcoming Cities Initiative. Austin is one 18 municipalities across the U.S. that has joined the Welcoming America initiative to create more immigrant-friendly environments to maximize opportunities for economic growth and cultural vitality, and position communities as globally competitive, 21st century leaders.
***6:00 pm – Welcome & Proclamation Presentation by Mayor Leffingwell
***6:10 pm – Welcoming Cities Launch Presentation
***6:15 pm – September Concert Begins
***6:15 pm – Sister Cities Exhibits and Refreshments

I am posting this event as EUROCIRCLE is one of the organizations working as an “ambassador” to support newcomers in Austin with Casa De Espana Austin, SACC TX, Austin Polish Society etc

Our Joint June 23 International Potluck event supported the same initiative as well.

There is a list of all groups who are associated with the program, some are more active than the others like always – and all the member groups can post their events as well

PS. Don’t forget the September 26 RIO ROOFTOP EuroCircle event!

Expatriates: Katja Guttmann –

We wanted to feature Katja Guttmann who is GERMANYinNYC’s Webmaster and Freelance Journalist

How did you get involved with

I am a freelance journalist and was hired as the editor in 2005. I seek out, upload and update content, pictures, videos and banners as well as write stories for the newsletter which appears weekly in our subscribers mailbox. And I create and update our Facebook presence as well.

How long has been around and what’s your mission? was created as a resource for anyone interested in German culture in the greater New York area. Founded by the German Consulate General and leading members of the German-American community in New York and operated by the a non-for-profit organization German-American Community Project, Inc., the website is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary. We’re very proud of the fact that, over these years, we’ve successfully served the community as “Your Place For All Things German In New York”. There are a lot of websites for German events out there, but on you can find everything in one place – from a cold draft beer and hearty food to classy Riesling; from cutting-edge rock bands to oompah bands with schuhplattler dancers; from world-famous symphony orchestras to films and art exhibitions in museums and galleries; we have fun for kids listed as well as lessons for German enthusiasts who want to learn the language. Lately, we are including events from German-speaking friends across the border in Switzerland and Austria.

What kind of events does organize throughout the year?

Since we are a not-for-profit organization, we need to raise funds. And we love meeting our readers and users of the website. So we are trying to combine both things in fun events: We host an annual “Maifest” to celebrate the arrival of spring and also celebrate “Oktoberfest” roughly at the same time as the famous one in Munich. We have live music and DJ’s, food, drinks and exciting raffle prizes. We are always open for trying new and unusual venues, we had parties at Loreley Williamsburg and the showroom of the German bathroom designer Duravit as well at the Swiss design furniture company Vitra.

What is Germany known for? This can be food, culture etc

We have great traditional food, including sausages, sauerkraut and dumplings (Knödel), the recipies vary from region to region. And the big export hit: German beer in all its glorious variations. In Bavaria they serve it in big steins, in Cologne in sleek, small glasses. And no, we don’t wear Lederhosen and Dirndl all year round – only during the Oktoberfest and only in Munich. Germany has a rich century old culture, from famous composers like Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and Richard Wagner as well as writers like Nobel prize winning Hertha Müller, Thomas Mann and Heinrich Böll amongst others. Recently, German culture has never been more popular in New York. You can find more and more beergardens, German films and movie stars (like Daniel Brühl in “The Fifth Estate”) are in high demand and restaurants like Zum Schneider and Loreley are always packed.

When is the best time of year to visit Germany?

It depends what you prefer: If you wanna go skiing, go during winter time to enjoy the Alps and get tipsy on mulled wine at one of the world famous Christmas markets. July and August are better if you want to go biking along the rivers Rhine or Danube; and nothing is better than sitting in an outdoor cafe in Berlin watching the world walk by.

What cities in Germany are your favorite and what would you recommend to someone visiting for the first time?

Americans usually love Berlin. It’s like New York 30 years ago when it was still cool and affordable. The German capitol is best enjoyed in the summer months, though. Munich is more relaxed and I love the outdoor beergardens, where you can bring your own food and sit forever. But I might be partial: I was born in Franconia and therefore I am technically Bavarian.

How long have you lived in the states?

I came in 1996 to New York to gain some experience as a journalist at the German language weekly New Yorker Staats-Zeitung. After a stint as the main editor for the Amerika Woche, I started working as a freelance reporter for the wire service Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa), covering the United Nations and Canadian news; interviewing film stars, writing about the Fashion week, movies and exhibitions. In addition to my role as an editor of GERMANYinNYC, I am a radio producer for ARD (German public radio). I was planning on staying for one year in New York – and here I am, 17 years later, I still can’t get enough.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Everything. New York is never boring to me. Ever. I love having a drink on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum watching the sun set over Central Park; biking over the Brooklyn Bridge to have a treat at the Ice Cream Factory; I get a kick out of having cocktails in secret bars on the Lower East Side and exploring new restaurants; meeting different people from all over the world at the United Nations; I enjoy the beach on Fire Island; I go the the movies, Broadway shows and the opera. These activities help me to do my job for even better. I find new shops, restaurants and events and add all those things to the website.

How can people find out more about and become members?

Just check out our website and click on the “signup” button on the right of the screen and put in your email address. We’ll keep you in the loop with our weekly newsletter including the coolest concerts, movies, bar openings, sweepstakes, and everything in between. You can also “like” us on Facebook to stay informed via our social media platform. And if you have an cool German-American event to promote yourself, just send us an email with the date, time, venue and and a picture and we will include it on the website:

We also have the category “German Personalities”. If you know any Germans, German-Americans or German enthusiasts we should feature in our this column, please let us know.

Anything else you would like to share with us?

We have several exciting things planned for our 10th anniversary celebration over the coming months. Subscribe to our newsletter via the “signup” button or by sending an email to to stay informed and become a part of our special community.

Katja Guttmann at LinkedIn