Enni Korpela – New York State of Mind

EuroCircle Team in NYC noticed this lovely and energetic young lady from Finland in New York City and wanted to find out a little bit more about her.

My name is Enni Korpela, I am 23 years old and I come from Jyväskylä, Finland.

My hobbies are yoga, gym and blogging about New York. I am studying business at JAMK University of Applied Sciences (Jyväskylän ammattikorkeakoulu).  When I decided to start study business, I had no idea what or who I wanted to be in the future. Only thing I knew was that I wanted to live abroad someday, work with different people and do something good for our society. I had no idea that New York could open my eyes that way it did.

I had my second year in school and my teacher sent me an email about open trainee position in Consulate General of Finland in New York. In that point, I knew very little about their amazing work and what they exactly were doing. I read their intro for this position and I got very excited. After two months I got a message that the next step was to move to New York and to be their trainee for next six months.

It was not my first time travelling to New York, it was actually my 15th.

Even though I knew the city already, I still was very scared to move abroad for the first time. Working at the Consulate General of Finland was the best thing ever happened in my life. I enjoyed every moment working there. I love New York but I think I loved my work even more. Every morning I woke up happy and smiling because it was time to go to work. My job was to interview visa, passport and residence permit applicants. I also put those applications into systems and answered to inquiries about visas. Meeting new people every day and talking with them about their desire to travel to Finland was very pleasant.

I also got to meet Finland’s current  President Sauli Niinistö and his spouse Jenni Haukio as well as Minister for Foreign affairs Timo Soini.

Living in New York was very hectic. I did not expect it to be that hectic as it was. Everyone hurries to work in the morning and in the evenings they hurry to get home. Even though the constant hurry and the city made me feel pressure to do something every day, I loved the feeling New York gave me. I felt like I am home and everyone was very kind to me. I loved being between these crazy tall buildings and living in this city where every day was full of events.

I was very active about finding interesting events. For example, I got to meet my idol Olivia Palermo and I had amazing opportunity to take part in New York Film Festival.

During the week I wanted to wake up at 6 am and get to work by 9 am. I lived in Washington Heights that is on the top of Manhattan.

Every morning I sat on the subway about 30 minutes reading books and staring at the local people.  During the mornings at work I interviewed our visa and passport customers.  After the lunch I put their applications in the system. When I had done that we had a team meeting or the staff gave me some other assignments.

I usually got home around 4pm or 5pm. Many evenings I walked or shopped in Soho, got groceries on the Upper West Side or went to some events. I enjoyed New York life to the fullest. When I was walking by myself in the streets, I did not feel lonely because there always was so many people around.

When I am thinking back, I feel very bereft because part of my heart is still in New York. When writing blog posts about my life there New York is on my mind every day. New York has always place in my heart and I hope I will live there someday in my near future. It is my favorite city in the world and always will be.


Website: http://dreamingnny.blogspot.fi/
Linkedin: https://fi.linkedin.com/in/ennikorpela

Marcus Räder, CEO of HostAway.com: “Toronto is the right place for us”

We asked Marcus Räder to tell us about life and business in Toronto vs. life in other cities he has lived. Let’s see what he tells us. He and his wife are from Finland.

Please introduce yourself.

Marcus Räder – I’m a 34 year old life explorer, who is always looking for new places to see and new things to try together with my wife. We have lived in Helsinki, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Gothenburg and now Toronto.

How did you end up in Toronto of all places?

Originally we were aiming for USA, after traveling the country for 5 years. Toronto and Canada was supposed to be a short stopover, but it turned out life is so much better on this side of the border we just had to stay.

What is the best and worst about Toronto for you…what is a typical day and weekend??

It’s difficult naming one thing that’s good, because Toronto has so many upsides. It’s almost impossible to find anything bad. Our favorites include the multiculturality, the food, cheap cost of living, proximity to nature and other big cities, the people and all the amazing events, not to mention the weather. The only downside is that this is a hidden gem – few Europeans consider going here. Once they’ve visited once, they always come back.

How do you find the lifestyle in Toronto compared to your hometown in Helsinki?

Compared to Helsinki, Finland, Toronto is a much more open place. Housing is cheap, food is amazing, health care is much better and the climate is fantastic. The lifestyle is very different. With all the events happening, it’s impossible to plan ahead. Sometimes you wake up and realize you don’t have time to visit all the must-see events available. People here are spontaneous and open to strangers. Last Christmas we got invited to a Serbian Christmas dinner and last Thanksgiving we were invited to stay over at the parents of a colleague in the countryside!

How do you make your living now – and how would you like to develop that career?

Toronto has a lot of job opportunities, but I only applied for one job before starting my own business. Compared to Finland, more millennials here have their own business or work as freelancers. I decided to aim higher and my software company HostAway.com now employs 6 persons around the world.

HostAway: We help vacation rental managers get more bookings and increase revenues with less hassle. Our automated channel manager solves double-bookings, makes guest communication easier and lets you focus on your business. Whether you are renting out your spare bedroom or manage entire properties for others, we are here to help.

Do you see the differences between nationalities  easily – yours vs. Americans vs. other Europeans?

It is impossible to find differences between nationalities in a city where 51% are immigrants. It’s enough to step into the elevator or go to the grocery store and you will meet 20 different nationalities. Some nationalities have their own towns or neighborhoods here, like the Jews, the Poles, the Greeks, the Somalians, the Ethopians and the Koreans. There are even 7 different Chinatowns here!

What is the essence of Toronto to you – what do you absolutely want your friends to see or feel in Toronto vs. your country?

One thing that pops to mind is that many Finns have a set path ahead of them – education, career, marriage, children, retirement. This set of thinking doesn’t belong in Toronto. People here are quick to adopt to changing circumstances and don’t want to settle for less. If they feel like traveling, they do. If they want a beer, they get one. Changing careers, starting your own business? That’s just business as usual here.

What do you absolutely miss from your  country/elsewhere heritage  …or elsewhere?

Two things I miss from Finland is the honesty and automation. With so many nationalities, it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a promise and an intention.

Manual labor is highly respected here, which unfortunately means that you need to speak to company or government representatives to get things done. In Finland, most things like tax declarations or official documents are dealt with automatically or online.

What do you miss the most – and the least from your own country?

There’s nothing in particular that I miss except for the people. Then again, there are great people everywhere in the world. We have made more friends in Toronto in a year than during a lifetime in Finland. What I don’t miss from Finland is the grumpiness and jealousy – people in Canada are always sincerely friendly and polite and they share your happiness.

Workwise – how do you see Canadians being different from your countrymen– also culturally, what stands out in your chosen profession?

Canadians, like Finns, are hard working and honest people. They shun confrontation which sometimes leads to stalemates when it comes to important decisions – the expansion of the Toronto Subway has been discussed and planned for 40 years now, to name an example. Finns on the other hand make a hard decision, implement the solution and live with it even it was wrong. Both sides have a point, but it’s an obvious difference.

When you think about what did you think about life in Toronto before you moved there – did you misconceptions that turned out to be wrong?

All I had heard was based on American media. Some things were true, others were false. Here are a few common myths about Canada, Toronto and Canadians

It’s cold – FALSE. It’s much warmer here than in cities like London Amsterdam or Stockholm. After all, Toronto is located south of France.

It’s expensive – FALSE. Because of the oil and its impact on the Canadian dollar, it’s much cheaper to live here than in most European cities, especially Scandinavia. Housing, food, transport and services cost 30-50% less here than in Helsinki. Some things are ridiculously cheap, like 3€/kg pork loin or a 4€ haircut. Taking a 30 minute uber can cost as little as 4€.

Canadians are friendly – TRUE. What the movies forget to mention is how friendly the Canadians are towards strangers. When the Syrian refugees were arriving, we had protests on the streets because Canada didn’t take in enough of them! It’s a culture that’s very easy to fall into, but it would be hard living in more protective and closed environments like US or Europe after living here for a while.

Canadians speak funnily – TRUE. If you’ve ever seen South Park and visited US, you already know everything from that series is correct and this includes the Canadian accent. However, it’s not only the accent but also what they say. For example, you may find yourself walking down the street when someone says ‘I’m sorry!’. What are they apologizing for? Walking on the same street as you.

Knowing more about life and having lived with your decisions for a while (like work) – would you still choose to be there and why? Why not..

The only thing I wished I could change is that I should have arrived here sooner. Having spent 30 years trying to find paradise on earth is a long time. Some people say there are always two sides of the coin, and we’ve seen this in many locations. For us and our 7 million fellow Torontontians there’s just one side of the coin: the bright side.

What should everyone know and understand about your country and its culture? Or the USA/Canada/your city or life here…

If you’ve visited places like Paris, New York or, London or Los Angeles you need to visit Toronto. Those big cities were always on the top of my list of places to go, but that was before I moved here. Now I can visit 5 different countries, cultures, cuisines and languages in a day if I want to. Living here is like being on vacation – it’s something new, something unique, every day of your life.

What cafes or restaurants do you recommend to tourists to go to in Toronto  and why? Or to do something else.

You should absolutely take a night in the Niagara region with its 100 wineries. If you like greek or Polish food, Toronto is the place to be. Unlike their European counterparts, the cuisine hasn’t changed for 50 years. We used to travel to Greece for food, now we prefer Danforth Avenue. You should also try some real southern BBQ. It’s usually hard to find in bigger cities like Chicago, NY or LA, but Americans living outside of Texas actually come here just for it! Try the new Cherry Street BBQ or Hogtown in The Beaches.

Although Toronto has more than 30 breweries, one of the top breweries in the world is located here: Bellwoods Brewery. They are so popular they cannot sell to stores or restaurants, so you have to visit the brewery itself. I’ve collected close to 1900 beer reviews from around the world, and Bellwoods is one of the best breweries there is.

For a true American experience, go to Wvrst and order their hot dogs with fries fried in duck fat. The Belgians may have good fries, but these are the best. If you’re lucky, they might even have a beer from Bellwoods on tap! Another good tip is to skip the lines at the CN tower by eating a dinner there – it saves you a lot of hours and money if you just book it far enough in advance.

What would be your ideal life – with no monetary issues to make it happen!

My ideal life would be to live in a condo downtown with a small cottage in Niagara. That’s exactly what I have right now. I wouldn’t change a thing even if I won the lottery, which is why I don’t buy lottery tickets anymore.

Would you move back to your country/Finland fulltime – yes or no (why and why not)?

Tough question! The answer is no. Finland is a fantastic place, but too small, cold and expensive. It’s a fantastic place to grow up in, but it’s hard to live in for 9 months of the year.

What has been the worst social/cultural issue to deal with in Toronto  for you?

The worst thing that has happened was not saying good morning to the neighbors in the elevator. In Finland, you’re supposed to live and let live. In here, your job is to make everyones day just a little better, a little happier and a little brighter. Fortunately for us, it took us just a few weeks to adopt and we can now honestly say we are friendly Canadians.

During my first week here, I went to a meetup for entrepreneurs. We were all supposed to introduce ourselves. I told everyone I moved to Canada a few days ago. Suddenly the entire room was standing up, clapping their hands and shouting “Welcome” or “Congratulations”. It took me just 3 days to feel at home here.

Anything else you would like sharing with us?

If you like the people in your country but would like to see the world, come to Toronto.
Whatever country you’re from, you will meet friends from your own country, you can eat your own food and you can keep your own culture here.
In addition to that, you will also become familiar with hundreds of different cultures from all around the world, while living in one of the safest and friendliest places on this planet.


Marcus Rader, CEO of HostAway.com


Marcus at Facebook



Email Marcus


On The Couch: The Most Psychiatrists Per Capita in Europe

For some reason – maybe due to the movies and TV series, many of us think that the USA is the promised land for the psychiatrists and therapists. Who has not heard about the Sex and The City – and follow the Frasier and numerous other favorite characters on TV.

Monaco is a sovereign city-state and microstate, located on the French Riviera in Western Europe. France borders the country on three sides while the other side borders the Mediterranean Sea. It is the second smallest and the most densely populated country in the world with a land border of 4.4 km (2.7 mi), a coastline of 4.1 km (2.5 mi), and a width that varies between 1,700 and 349 m (1,859 and 382 yd). Monaco’s most populous Quartier is Monte Carlo and the most populous Ward is Larvotto/Bas Moulins. In 2014, it was noted about 30% of the population was made up of millionaires. It truly is one the most known hotspots for the super rich.

However, Monaco is also the country with the most psychiatrists per capita worldwide. In 2014, the tiny principality had 41 shrinks per 100,000 of its population, according to the World Health Organization. Another country renowned for its wealth, Norway, also has a high rate of psychiatrists, 29.7 per 100,000 inhabitants. If you look at the countries in the developing world that is not the case. For example India has only 0.3 psychiatrists per 100,00 people.

Infographic: On The Couch: The Most Psychiatrists Per Capita | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

Under the Andalucían sun – Meet Emma from Finland

Who am I?

My name is Emma and I am 27 years old. I live in Seville, Spain. I am from Hämeenlinna, Finland.  I have lived herein Andalucía for 1 year and 8 months (as of Aug 2016).

What took you to Spain?

Love and a lifelong dream to live abroad. I took a step into the unknown. Travelling has been my passion since I was a little girl. I’ve travelled with my parents, my friends and by myself to many different places. However, most of my trips –very typical for a Finnish person– have been to the sunnyCosta del Sol – Malaga area in Spain. Who wouldn’t want a little escape from the cold, dark Finnish winter?

I discovered Seville through my best friend.We met when she was doing her Erasmus practice at an English speaking kindergarten where I worked. When her Erasmus period ended she returned hometo Seville. We stayed in touch and I visited her during all my vacations.

Why did you decide to move to Seville?

Two years ago–during my summer vacation– I was once again visiting my friend. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of ten years. She and I decided to go out to a party after dinner. My friend also wanted to say hello to her boyfriend who was meeting with his friends just around the corner.  There I met this handsome, amazing Spanish man who became my boyfriend. After that night we never stopped talking. Afterfour months of long-distance dating, I decided to make my dreams come true and move to Spain. I packed my bags and after Christmas 2014 I jumped onaplane to start my new adventure.

How did you find work?

My friend advised me that there’s a lot of work in Spain as an English teacher. I needed to take only one month-long English Teacher for foreign people course in a private school, and after that there would be plenty of work. I found the course on the internet, went to the interviews before I moved to Spain, and I prepared myself. I was accepted, but the course cost 1500euros. I decided to take a loan, to pay my first months living there without salary and to pay for the course. We were already looking for apartments with my boyfriend and found a perfect flat in the suburbs of Sevilla, ten minutes with a metro to go to the city center. Everything was perfect.

I took the course in CLIC INTERNATIONAL HOUSE of Seville. It was super-intensive course where I actually had to teach Spanish people who paid for that English course. Meanwhile my teachers and course-mates were observing me from the back of the class. It was the most stressful and sleepless month of my life. I was working 24 hours. Some nights I didn’t sleep because I had to prepare the next day’s class.

I struggled through that and got my certificate. Now I only needed to find a job. My friend was right: there were many academies and work positions. Luckily the course prepared us well, telling us the minimum salary we should accept.

After only four days of looking for work, I got a call and I was asked to go to an interview. I was so surprised and relieved andIfelt lucky that somebody called me.

I got a job in an English academy, teaching English to university students. I was happy. Now I only needed to do all the paper work in the immigration administration.

No problem, I thought: I’m from Finland, part of the European Union.

I went there with my boyfriend, since I had no idea what I needed to say because my Spanish during two and a half months hadn’t developed much beyond the basics I had learnt in Finland.

I was absolutely amazed how inefficient the system is in Spain. I had to wait 30 minutes, then I had to leave to take more copies of some papers that I had, and come back. Then finally I had to go to pay the whole process to a bank, because in the administration places in Spain are not allowed to receive money because is possible that somebody of the workers can steal it. My mind was blown. What is this country? I was even asked if Finland is part of European Union.

After the whole morning going back and forth with the papers I finally got my Spanish ID “NIE” that unfortunately was only for three months. And after that I would have to go through the process again.

What about working conditions?

I started to work and I was happy and satisfied with my job, I could be totally independent and teach in my own way with materials given. It was fun. The only bad thing was that I was working until ten at night. After a while I got used to it. I also had to change my classroom during the day to another part of the city, commuting by bike. But I did it and I didn’t complain, at least I had a job.

The problems started around the payday. I got my salary in an envelope, but only after waiting three hours and my boss “accidentally” losing my money. I remember I was so upset. I couldn’t believe that in a European Union country this can happen.

I got over my shock and I continue working there, now I had understood that this is how Spain works, people don’t pay taxes so there is no workers’ rights and no guarantee for you to even get your money. So I was happy that at least finally I got paid every month.

The more we were going towards summer the less hours I got, because university students of course are not so keen on studying during the summer. Then one day I was going to the academy to have my lesson, it was the last days of the course. I opened the Academy door, and there was nothing. I mean absolutely nothing. No pictures on the wall, no desks, no posters, nothing. An empty hallway. Once again I was surprised, so I waited at the door and called if there was anyone. Then my boss came from one classroom, asking me very rudely in Spanish what I was doing there – the academy is closed. I explained to her that I still have my course going on with my students.  She didn’t remember, she told me I could use one of the other classrooms. I agreed and started preparing my class and awaiting my students. After ten minutes she came again and said to me that if all of the students from my group (total six students) don’t come today she is not going to pay my salary. They believed it is my responsibility to make sure all the students participate.

I tried to explain to her that the students are having their exams at the university at the same time. Obviously there is nothing that I can do to force an adult to participate.  Finally three of my students arrived. I gave the lesson. Then I had a fight with my boss. Later at home when I told my boyfriend what happened he called her. My boss sent me a message that I am not needed anymore on Monday. Thank you and bye. I was relieved. I didn’t need those kinds of problems. It was time for a change. There are so many other places. The only bad thing was that summer had just started. All the academies were closing during the months of summer.

I was unemployed the whole summer, struggling and looking for something, anything.  At onepoint I was ready to give up, pack my things, and return to Finland.  I didn’t want to do it, after all the problems with work here the quality of life was so much better than in my home country. The weather, culture, and people were all things that kept me fighting. Finally I was lucky and got a job for Julywitha summer camp for children. Then I got another job offer for September from a kindergarten. I was very happy for that too, because I graduated as a practical nurse in Finland and I was working in a kindergarten there until the day I moved to Spain. Then I got another job offer too in another English Academy teaching children. I was happy. Now I have two different jobs: mornings in the kindergarten teaching English and afternoons in the English Academy working with kids and adults.

How is the situation now?

I worked 12 hours a day last year with my two jobs. I loved it and I still love the work I had in the mornings in the kindergarten, the only minus is that they pay such a ridiculously small amount of money that with only one salary I can’t live. That’s why I need to work in the afternoons as well. I had one hour to eat and change my clothes during the jobs and continue work. I was exhausted after my working days, but I had no other way to live. Imagine working from 10 to 22 everyday except weekends. Now I will continue at these jobs this year with fewer hours in the evenings. I asked my boss in the academy if he doesn’t mind giving me only the children’s lessons. I’m getting fed up with the adults. He had no problem with that. I am very happy with the conditions in both places. In the kindergarten they even pay me my vacations three weeks during the year. That doesn’t happen very often in Spain. My boss at the academy is a very reliable person andI haven’t had many problems with the kindergarten, either. They always pay me eventually.

What would you want to say to people who are dreaming to move to Spain?

Go for it, but just remember that under the sun here is routine too, and hard work. You can´t compare it with Finland. The system here doesn’t work well. Working conditions aren’t very good. But if you are open-minded you can manage. If you are willing to work your ass off and fight towards your happiness you can do it. If you speak fluent English you will find a job easily. Remember to trust yourself and take the big step to the unknown, you won’t know how your life will change if you don’t give it a chance. I wouldn’t change anything. I have visited home many times and of course there are days I miss my friends and family and things from Finland but it’s not enough to make me want to go back. I feel at home in Spain. Life in general is much better and fun, not to mention cheaper than in Finland.

What about Spanish people?

Spanish people are really welcoming and really warm people. They are nice and even if they don’t know you they treat you like a friend.

What is typical Spanish in your opinion?

Typical Spanish is that lunch is the most important meal of the day, and after that comes siesta. Unless you are working, siesta time is laid-back, whereas driving in Spain involves honking and yelling. People can be judgmental and of course you will always be “guiri” (a foreign person) to them.

How to contact Emma :

Email Emma

Emma at Facebook

Learn more about Seville, Spain

Nordique – A brand new Scandinavian-inspired lifestyle website

Nordique is a brand new Scandinavian-inspired lifestyle website, featuring exciting articles and blog posts on Nordic culture, food, design and people.

We are the co-founders: Stephanie Silva and Elin Svensson, each from Sweden.
We met in London over five years ago through a Swedish flat share which we found online. Our mutual love of Nordic life, coupled with our recognition that people outside of Scandinavia have a real fascination of the region, inspired us to create an accessible, inspirational viewpoint of our homelands!

Steph focuses on the creative and media-related aspects of the business, raising our platform’s profile and seeking out great new features. Elin is from a business development background, and works closely with the independent, hand-picked suppliers of products that are featured on Nordique’s shop. As well as being business partners, we are also best friends – Steph will be a bridesmaid at Elin’s upcoming wedding on the beautiful Swedish west coast.


How did you end up in London of all places?

London is very close to “home” for us. There are more opportunities workwise, the language makes it easy for us as most Swedish people speak English, and both of us prefer to live in a bigger city then where we are from. London is a home to people from all over the world – it’s such a wonderful melting pot of cultures. We’ve both worked elsewhere, including in the Middle East, but have always been drawn back to London’s vibrancy. It’s also a really good place to do business, with lots of young, like-minded and enthusiastic people also choosing this city as a home.

What is the best and worst about London for you…what is a typical day and weekend??

Where to start… endless social activities, from wonderful restaurants, bars, theatres, gigs – the list goes on. We love the mix of the energy and entrepreneurial spirit that this city generates, but mixed with the beautiful green spaces that are spread across the city. It’s also a place where everyone can feel welcome – most people that you meet day to day are not actually from London, so the city needs to be good at opening its arms to people from all walks of life. It is difficult to get bored in a city like this!

The worst thing about London is probably the commuting during rush hour….if you’re not in the mood the stress of commuting can be pretty difficult at times. It’s also certainly an expensive place to live!


How do you find the lifestyle in London compared to your hometowns in Sweden (housing, food, health care, education, nature, weather..)?

We have a Swedish word – ‘lagom’ – which doesn’t really translate properly into English, but basically means ‘not too little, not too much’. This translates into what is viewed by Swedes as an ideal way to live your life – an expression of things being just right.

This doesn’t really apply to London, where there are certainly more extremes – more highs and lows, more excitement and buzz. There is a level of energy here, and willingness of people to challenge themselves.

Sweden is a difficult place to better in terms of housing, healthcare and education. In housing terms, rents and prices are significantly lower, particularly than London, and the quality of housing is very high.  Healthcare is great in the UK too – the NHS is similar to the system we have in Sweden, so in that sense it is great that the two countries prioritise these issues!

We do sometime miss the beautiful Swedish nature – we love how we have all 4 seasons properly, with real distinctions between them. In winter we have snow, in summer we can go swimming in the sea and in some parts of the country the sun never sets! In autumn and spring the colours can be wonderful. We try to reflect the changing seasons with our features on Nordique, to try to bring these wonderful scenes to a broader audience.

Knowing more about life and having lived with your decisions for a while (like work) – would you still choose to be there and why? Why not..

There will always be “what ifs” regardless of how the decisions you’ve made turned out. The two of us always wanted to have our own business, and we are very lucky to finally have launched Nordique and we are very lucky to have each other, we are such close friends and we work extremely well together.

What should everyone know and understand about your country and its culture?

Sweden is a wonderfully diverse place – in terms of landscapes, cultures, people and weather! We’ve already mentioned the importance of ‘lagom’, and how central this is to Swedish culture. As a nation we are very close to nature, perhaps rooted in the pagan traditions of the Vikings and old Norse people. The traditional ‘Midsummer Festival’ is a public holiday in Sweden, and is celebrated by everyone nearly as much as Christmas (except no presents!). It’s a chance for Swedes to gather together with family and friends, sing traditional songs, dance around the maypole and celebrate the importance of the short, but truly beautiful summer in Sweden.

It’s maybe also reflected in the ease which Swedes have with being naked! It’s very much a stereotype, but Swedes do love skinny-dipping in lakes in the summer haha!

What cafes or restaurants do you recommend to tourists to go to in London and why?

We love Nordic Bakery in Soho for a tasty ‘kanelbullar’ (cinnamon bun) as a reminder of home!

Elsewhere, the Balham Bowls Club in Balham, South West London is a great place to hang out on a weekend – a cool bar converted from an old lawn bowls club, with lots of kitsch features!

Brixton is a really buzzing place at the moment, with new cafes, restaurants and bars opening at a crazy pace. We love going to the street food stalls at Brixton Pop (an outdoor markets constructed of former containers) where you can try tasty delights from countries around the world.

For anyone looking to travel to the Nordic countries and wanting recommendations of cafes and restaurants, or what to see/do then visit www.thenordique.com as we have a website full of tips and ideas!

What do you absolutely miss from your country/elsewhere heritage (food, culture, movies etc) …or elsewhere?

Swedish summers! Our sea, lakes, strawberries, blueberries, “fika” culture, picnics in the parks…

How to connect with you:
Instagram: thenordique


Elina – A Finnish Blogger in South Carolina [Lentoaskeleita]

We always love to feature any Europeans. Elina is a young Finnish woman who ended following her husband to the USA – a move she did not expect. Let’s hear in her own words how she dealt with the challenges.

Please introduce yourself

Hi everyone, my name is Elina. I’m a Finnish mom of two who is spending a year as an expat-spouse in South Carolina.  I am supposed to be finishing my Masters in literature at Tampere University.  Instead we decided to embrace an opportunity for a South Carolina adventure and jump in. When our daughter was born a year ago I had no idea that she would spend her first year outside Finland – in a small town of southern USA.

Our decision to go  to the USA happened very fast. My husband is working –  I’m a stay at home mom at the moment. I will finish my studies when we go back to Finland. I love this unique chapter in my life. It allows me to watch closely how our children grow.

How do you find the lifestyle in South Carolina compared to Europe?

It was surprising to find out how many things are different compared to Finland. Even the houses are different – little things from the traffic lights to gas stations are just like they are in the movies! It felt unreal to see the yellow school buses at the first time.

The biggest shock for me  – the amount of processed food offered!  I appreciate all the clean food we eat in Finland. We try to buy organic and healthy food.  I love the ”Non-GMO”-stickers. I am truly grateful for the “free” education and health care we receive in Finland. It feels unfair how everyone else doesn’t have the equal opportunity in the USA.

I have loved seeing how many Americans volunteer their time to do good. We have a lot to learn from this in Finland. I’m also forever grateful for the warm welcome by all Americans here!

What do you  want your friends to see or feel in South Carolina?

From now on I have to get everyone to visit Charleston. It is the most beautiful city I have ever seen – the old pastel colored houses are just magical.

I take our guests to have the complete ”southern experience” to have a breakfast at Cracker O’Barrel. (Not exactly healthy and clean eating I already told about…)

What do you really miss from Finland?

I miss our sauna, the summer cottage, the cold ground under your feet and the lake’s freezing water. The magical silence of nature.  Of course we all miss our family and friends. It’s hard for the grandparents to miss all the new things  that the children are learning.

How do you balance your career with other obligations – husband, children, and job?

It’s my husband’s turn to focus on his career. I support him 100%.  I really appreciate how hard he works for our family. However, as a woman I want to continue my studies and have my own career after this expat-phase. In turn my husband supports me completely. I want to do it for myself and for our children.  I want my kids to learn how important it is to educate yourself and do something you are passionate about.

What do you miss the most – and the least of Finland?

I miss the Finnish”coffee culture”.  The first question by my Finnish friends is always”would you like to have a cup of coffee?”   Everyone sits at the table, children have juice and adults enjoy their coffee. And”pulla” or cookies too – of course. There are a lot of other things from Finnish culture that I miss. However, I also enjoy the American courtesy and”small talk”- culture. It’s somewhat easier to approach people and get new friends here.

I don’t miss the extra-long winters in Finland. I’m definitely a summer person. I truly enjoy the summer here.

Is there any Finnish expat local group in your area – or some other European group that has been helpful to you?

I have gotten couple of Finnish contacts living in this area trough my blog.   It has been nice to make a few new friends. It’s been touching how helpful everyone has been. Those people have been so amazing.  We feel so thankful for everyone’s help and kindness!

When and how did you decide to move to South Carolina? Is it complicated to settle down there?

Our decision to move here happened very fast. I still remember when my husband called and told me about this job offer. We decided to take it immediately. It took only three months to stand at the front door of our new home. Those three months were crazy. There was so much to arrange: rent our home and pack everything, get the visas and all the other paper work done.  Finding out everything – it was a lot to do!

How is/was the cultural shock? What are the main differences with Finland, your home country?

The cultural shock was huge even if we had visited USA once before. However, there’s no way you can compare New York City to a small town in South Carolina. Not to mention that if you think you really know something about American culture after one visit to NYC you are badly mistaken.

At the beginning we were frankly a little bit confused with the way everyone talks to everyone here. Now I find it fun and refreshing! Everyone is so nice and polite – the real southern charm.

There are some unwritten social rules and customs that are impossible to appreciate before you really live here. For example: everyone says “ma’am” and “sir””miss” etc.  You learn how you are expected to behave in social situations.

When did you start your blog and why?

I started to write a blog almost four years ago. First it was a blog of a young mom who was also a student, and then it was a wedding blog, baby blog, life style blog, now it’s my story of living abroad.

I started it just for the love of writing. I thought it would be a fun hobby. I never imagined how important piece of my life the blog would be: how many amazing people I would meet trough it.

I participated in such fun events because of my blog. I never dreamed how much I love those moments when I can sit down and start writing my blog.  No to mention I have just the best readers! Right now my goal is to make the blogging a side job at some point.

EuroCircle members/visitors can connect with You:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lentoaskeleita-173707039463042/

Website: www.lily.fi/blogit/lentoaskeleita

e-mail: lentoaskeleita (at) gmail (dot) com

instagram: @lentoaskeleita



From Germany to Key Largo: I ran away from my past and found my happy place

To protect our interviewee’s privacy, we are not using her real name.
Let’ s call her Erika.  Erika was born and raised in Germany. She came to Florida in 2005, right out of college.

It was supposed to be a temporary adventure for her, but 11 years have passed and she is still here.
Erika was extremely lucky: After her temporary visa had expired, she won her permanent US residency in a lottery.

I was curious how and why she came to the USA. She has also had and has some obstacles in life that are hard to deal with anyone.
Let Erika tell us in her own words why.

“People wonder why I live here by myself, when all my family is in Germany. The truth is, I kind of ran away; not from my country, not from the climate, not from the people, but from my past. I had a good childhood. I grew up in a conservative middle-class family, in a small quiet town. My childhood was very strict and performance-driven. My parents wanted me and my brothers to be successful. They meant well. I still consider them great parents that I am fortunate to have in my life. I was raised to be ambitious and competitive. I was the best at everything: school, gymnastics, tennis, playing music, you name it. I was the perfect child, growing up in a seemingly perfect family. I wanted to make my parents proud and I wanted to feel loved, and it seemed the only way to achieve that, was to excel!”

At this point I am wondering wow – why did she ever leave if life was this wonderful. Well, let’s find out.

Erika says “Things took a turn when I became a teenager. I became very shy to a point where I would freeze up in social settings. I became the outcast, known as ‘the quiet one’. I felt like people were not even noticing me.”

“At age 14 I decided that I was overweight (which I wasn’t even close to!), so I started dieting and exercising. I isolated myself, and my main focus was weight loss and food. Food was on my mind 24/7. I was caught in a vicious cycle called Anorexia Nervosa, or as I call it, the slow suicide. As the weight loss progressed, my euphoria about my weight loss soon turned into a major depression. I lost all my energy and stopped being active. I started losing my hair. My menstrual cycle stopped. I was exhausted, yet restless. I slept an average of 2 hours per night. I was constantly freezing. Sometimes my fingertips would turn blue.”

I guesses what happened next – and I am sure you do too. 
Erika was sent to a psychologist. The psychologist accused her of being a rebel and ruining the family. So did her parents.
Erika lost even more weight, got more depressed. She was put on hormone medication to keep her reproductive organs from shrinking, and then her gynecologist referred her to a different psychologist.

Erika told me “I was in therapy with him for 8 years. He saved my life! He helped me find my own identity. He taught me that I am lovable for who I am, and not for the things I accomplish, tournaments I win, or grades I achieve.”

However, what happened when she was 18 and finally recovering, I would never ever have guessed.  Erika found out that her dad had been cheating on her mom…. for 18 years! He started having affairs when Erika’s mom was pregnant with her. He didn’t want that third child.  Erika.  Erika says “My world fell apart. All this time I had been made the culprit for our family dysfunction. And now it turns out that my dad, my superhero, is living a double life. We kicked him out of the house but he moved back in after a week. This was when my restless journey began; I moved out of my parents’ house. First to the next village, then to the next city, then to the neighboring country, and finally to the US… where I found my home.”

Many people don’t realize how serious an eating disorder can be. Anorexia is not just an obsession with weight loss. It is a serious, complex mental illness that, in some cases, ends in death. Therapy is the only way out. 
Erika says ” I am extremely lucky that I received the help I needed in order to survive. If you know someone with an eating disorder or other mental illness, please do not judge them. Becoming anorexic is not a choice or a lifestyle. Mental illness is not something you can ‘snap out of’. I never had a relapse into the anorexia, and am probably happier with my body than many ‘normal’ women.”

Things are not perfect though.  Erika still carries a feeling of emptiness inside of her and still has not figured out a way to fill this void. Loving herself is still a challenge and though she has made progress, she still tends to depend on external validation. She has problems controlling her emotions, and she admits losing some friends due to her inability to hold back her feelings. During the anorexia years, she had no emotions, Erika was numb to everything.

She told me “Once I learned to allow emotions, I kind of fell into the other extreme, where they sometimes completely overwhelm me. This year, after a few challenging situations, I sought some help from a psychologist, and I was finally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. After everything I thought I had accomplished, it felt like a slap in the face to be diagnosed with yet another mental disorder. But I have accepted it and am determined to fix myself.”

I was relieved when Erika said  she is happy with her life in Key Largo (Florida). 
She likes visiting Germany, but she is always excited to come back to Florida. It has become her happy place, far away from the memories of her teenage years…

I wanted to share her story.
Why? There are so many people who have issues with their mental health or issues that are thought to be mental issues but in fact are related to physical health. It is so much more common that people think.

Thanks for sharing your story with us. We hope you remain in the “happy place” and find a good support network.

Learn about Borderline Personality Disorder
Learn Anorexia Nervosa

Europe’s Early Education Leavers – Which Countries Are NOT Doing That Well With Young People

Eurostat recently releases stats that say that whopping  21.9 percent of young people in Spain were early leavers from education and training in 2014. That is more than any other EU country.

Early leavers from education and training may face considerable difficulties looking for jobs.  The employers may be more reluctant to take them on with their limited education.

An average of 11.2 % of young people (aged 18–24) in the EU were early leavers from education and training in 2014.    The early leavers are defined as young people having completed at most a lower secondary education and not being in further education or training during the four weeks preceding the survey.

I was surprised to see that Italy and the UK also have a higher leaving rate than the EU average with 15.0 and 11.8 percent respectively.  Turkey in particular has a very high rate of younger people departing education and training – 38.3 percent.

Infographic: Where Are Europe's Early Education Leavers? | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

South East European Film Festival Los Angeles Debuts Contest for Young Filmmakers

Los Angeles, February 2016 – South East European Film Festival in Los Angeles, SEEfest announced the launch of a youtube contest for young filmmakers as the first major new initiative of the 2016 festival, set to run April 28 – May 5. Created by the festival’s young social media team, the contest is run online with the hashtag #SEEme and encourages young filmmakers to create a short video of under 3 minutes showing how they express themselves.

“We are proud of Tamara Gavric and Erica Sabol, our young social media team in Los Angeles who created the contest,” says SEEfest Founder and Artistic Director, Vera Mijojlić. “They filmed the promo trailer for the contest featuring young L. A. artists and how they express themselves through dancing, singing, boxing, jogging, photographing. It gives youthful energy to our festival and encourages diversity of cinematic expression.”

The contest is exclusively run through social media reaching tens of thousands of new users in youth demographics. Says Tamara Gavric, manager of digital content for the festival, “This was a wonderful opportunity for me and Erica Sabol to create innovative solutions for the film festival and great opportunities for young filmmakers. We are so excited and grateful to have a chance to implement our ideas and discover young filmmaking stars through social media.”

The winner will be chosen by a festival jury from the top 10 films with the most votes and the winning filmmaker will travel to the U.S. to attend SEEfest. The contest is open to anyone ages 18-27, and it is free to enter. Submissions deadline is March 26.

About SEEfest

The South East European Film Festival in Los Angeles, SEEfest presents cinematic and cultural diversity of South East Europe to American audiences and creates cultural connections through films, artistic and social events. Annual competition festival takes place at the end of April-beginning of May and presents films from 18+ countries of South East Europe showcasing diversity of cultures and cinematic talents from Austria and Italy in the North-West to Turkey and the Caucasus in the South-East. SEEfest was twice the recipient of the prestigious festival grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and five other recognitions for programming excellence from the State of California, County and City of Los Angeles, and Cities of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.




Mikael Kopteff from Reaktor – a Finnish Creative Technology House in NYC

Please introduce yourself. 

Hi, I am Mikael Kopteff and I’ve been working for Reaktor for six years now.  For the last year I have been the CTO of their New York Office. Before that I did a lot of things related to programming, recruitment and general consulting.

Reaktor is a creative technology house.   Our focus is in taking on extremely difficult projects and creating exceptional products and services for our clients. What it usually means is that we create software that our clients don’t have the expertise or the time or the resources to create otherwise without us.

And we have clients in all types of industries like finance, retail, media, communications, airlines and the like.

We have offices in New York, Helsinki, Toyko and we have about 350 people.  One of the more interesting things is that we are what you might call a flat hierarchy or low hierarchy, so we don’t have a strict hierarchy in how our company works.

Is there one part of the business that you would highlight or focus on the most or just in general?

For me personally, I am quite focused on the media industry, so I work with several different media companies within Finland as well as in the US. In the US we work for companies such as HBO for instance.

What is very interesting and hot in the industry right now that’s cool is that we have created inflight entertainment systems – basically inflight services and things related to that – and that has been something that is on the rise. We do have several different smaller things we do, like we have a space program for instance.

How do you like it in New York compared to Helsinki? Are there any pros and cons to it being here vs being abroad?

Helsinki, I lived there most of my life. I lived in Australia for a while too. But Helsinki is very much a calm and mellow place, and since I lived there most of my life I know how everything works.

It’s very calm compared to New York. In New York there is always something going on; there are loads of restaurants and loads to do. The energy level is higher in New York and everyone is always going and doing something. So that is one of the key differences for me.

For pros and cons, sometimes in the wintertime in Helsinki there is not that much to do, especially in the city center.  People typically hibernate in the winter in Helsinki whilst in New York, even though it’s winter or even a blizzard a couple of days ago here, things are still going on. People are still doing loads of stuff. So there is always something to do in New York.

How do you think the Finnish Mentality gets along with the New York American Way and how the business world is different? Is it different in your mind?

The fundamentals are pretty much the same. I would say here,since New York is so busybusy, people are very meat and potatoes.  They might have 30 seconds of small talk, and then they get down to business.Whilst in Helsinki there is a certain type of small talk culture nowadays, but it’s more slow paced.

One thing that’s sort of in the New York business culture is that people tend to switch around meetings all the time, and “I am sorry I did this to you”, or “we switched around this time for discussion.”

That happens very often to me in New York where people will change times of meetings and discussions and so forth several times, and that is something I’ve found is quite different.

In Helsinki, if you book, you know three weeks in advance and nobody confirms it. Here, if you book something one week in advance, people confirm it on the same day because people expect that it might be changed.There is a problem with time management.

The fundamentals of business are pretty much the same.  People want to do business and we discuss similar things as back in Helsinki.

What is the best and worst thing about New York for you and what is a typical day and weekend like for you?

A “typical” day is always hard because I do a lot of things here in New York such as recruitment and meeting with potential clients and existing clients.

So a typical day would be that I would come to work, I might have internal meetings first, and those are very casual because we just talk about some pressing issues. I might have a meeting with a potential client. I might spend half the day at one of our current client’s offices to go through some of the things that they are doing.

I would say there is one interview here or there, like with a couple of potential clients per week, and then plan a lot of stuff with marketing.It’s sort of like we are the landing team here and a CTO title is kind of ambiguous here.  Basically anything that is needed I might step in with, sometimes to where I am boxing shelves and I am putting them together or sometimes we are discussing something very important with senior VPs or I am trying to find some screws for a loose shelf, so it can be anything.

What is the essence of the current city to you and what do you want your friends to absolutely see or feel in your current city vs. your home country?

So one thing that is kind of interesting is I don’t have many friends visiting me here. Helsinki has good restaurants, but New York has a lot of really good restaurants and especially the variety is very good, and I take my friends to many different types of restaurants.

I really like Broadway and have been a couple of times and they have always been nice experiences.

One thing I do go to is surfing in New York, and that a lot of people can’t comprehend.

Today is Tuesday, so yesterday I woke up really early and went to a public beach before work and then I came to work a bit late and you know, it’s a bit snowy and quite cold. When my brother was here I took him to the beach.  People don’t associate New York with the beach.

What do you miss from your country regarding heritage, food, culture, movies etc.?

My ancestry is not purely Finnish. I have relatives around Europe.  Obviously I do miss my family a lot. My mom lives in Helsinki still, so I miss her and of course my friends.

I have made some new friends here. It is always nice to meet new people and create new contacts, but of course the social network that I used to have is very different now.

I would say the people.  Not so much single places or things that I used to do, but rather the people. Those are the things that I miss.

Before you moved here what did you think about life in New York before you moved? Where there any misconceptions that turned out to be wrong or right for you here?

I did make a lot of business trips before I moved here. So when we opened the office in New York a bit more than a year ago, I was back and forth and had been traveling a year before then, and we started having business here and now have an office here. So I did familiarize myself with New York and I had been here on vacation once also.

Living in New York, this is a difficult question. Obviously in the beginning it was a bit tricky and I was surprised that New York had that much bureaucracy – not too bad but just some things are a bit tricky to navigate, but I guess that’s common for all countries. When you have to open a bank account, or to get a flat.

Would you ever consider moving back there even if part time or full time back to Helsinki?

Well, yes that’s probably in the plans at some point and I don’t even know when or where, it’s kind of open. I am here for now and I will be here until I know the business is stable enough and I am just going to take it one day at a time rather than trying to make plans long term.

So what has been the worst cultural or social issue to deal with in New York for you?

People are a bit different in New York than in Helsinki. Helsinki people tend to be quieter.  Compared to an average Finn –  if there is one – I would be quite loud and talkative. However, in NY I actually mix in quite well.

Some people would say that New Yorkers can be quite rude. I really  haven’t experienced New Yorkers being rude. New Yorkers are a bit thick skinned and there are tons of different types of people.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us that you haven’t already talked about?

In New York there are definitely loads of things to do and loads of fun things to do, so living here it’s not boring ever. There is always something to do every single day of the week.

If I don’t want to go home and see a jazz gig or see something in the theater or anything, there is always something interesting.

Connect with Mikael and Reaktor:

Our company twitter handle is: @reaktornow

My twitter handle is: @mikukopter

Our instagram is: reaktornow

My instagram handle is: @mikukopter

Our website is www.reaktor.com

Facebook is wearereaktor