I’m happy to see so many expats and international students participating in this “Oulu at your service” -event! 

My name is Henna Määttä, and I am the First Vice Chair of the City Board and one of the 67 City Councilors of the City of Oulu. My day job however, is here at the University of Oulu where I work as a Project Manager of an international project. I also have quite an extensive experience and background in the student union (OYY) and its societies. 

Therefore I can say it from the bottom of my heart that it is my great pleasure and honour to bring the city of Oulu’s greetings to this event and talk a bit about what is the spirit of Oulu.

 How does life appear here, at 65 degrees latitude? What brings us here and what makes us stay here, up in the North? And by we, I also refer to myself – I’ve also moved to Oulu, quite a few years ago, when I was a child, but still, I chose to stay. Why?

 So I was born in a small North-East city called Kuusamo. I’ve also lived one year in Brazil, Sao Paulo and travelled all around Europe. Now I have lived in Oulu for quite many years and this is my hometown, my beloved city, which is not too big, not too small. 

Here I have gotten the high quality education and opportunities to show my expertise and build quite a big network. Here I can enjoy the active culture life: concerts, theater and also urban and children’s culture. 

Here I can experience all the four seasons and nature is close. It takes only two minutes to go to the forest from my doorstep. I love hiking and going outdoors, so it is great to have multiple routes so near. During the summertime it is great to go for a Nallikari beach or paddle around the estuary. You will see a few photos from my favorite spots in Oulu in this slideshow. 

Dear listeners,

Northern nature and character. Humane energy. World-class expertise. This is how I would describe Oulu.

North is required, if one wishes to experience a proper winter. To be able to ski or nowadays even see the snow, walk on the frozen sea, to see the northern lights. Pitch your business ideas from an ice pond. Yes, I know. It’s a bit crazy isn’t it? But something unique as well.

After a few years, living in Oulu it’s not that exotic anymore, but when our family members or friends come to visit us from abroad, we notice these little things that have become everyday luxury for us. Fresh air, clean water or outstanding nature a few steps from our doorsteps. It can’t be found from every city, that’s for sure.

 North is not only a geographic location. It is an attitude. North is required, if one wishes to meet laid-back and easy going people. Working and doing things are important, but not the most important things in life – we also value our spare time. 

We all love that we don’t get stuck in traffic jams in Oulu. Instead, the whole town is reachable by bike and yes, winter biking is the moment when your spirit is being tested. Breeze at Tuira bridge – raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about! 

Oulu might be also the the only city in the world where the baana architect and transportation engineer is internationally known and followed also in Twitter. I have to admit that I’m a bit of a fangirl of Harri Vaarala’s work and I encourage you all to follow him on Twitter. 

Oulu is home to a unique combination of intelligence and creativity, cultivated under the roof of our Universities. Oulu’s academic community is a very good reason for over 1100 expats to live, study and work in Oulu. Together almost 10 000 international people have set up their lives in here. So our expat community is steadily growing and we wish to see this positive trend grow even stronger in the future!

As a city, we aim to develop our English and multilingual offering and services to help our expats to settle in easier. For example, starting from November, Mun Oulu online media will publish English articles under the My Oulu section. My Oulu focuses on topics such as international Oulu, services provided by the city of Oulu, work and entrepreneurship as well as leisure time activities. Expats of Oulu are also given a voice as columnists.

 There are many good things in Oulu and we are improving all the time but we are far from being a perfect city.

At the City of Oulu, we believe the best results will be achieved by joining forces and taking along our citizens, when we develop our services. Therefore I encourage you to share your viewpoints with us. 

What would be the best way to attract international students, researchers or experts to Oulu? What could be done more or better to smoothen out the integration? How can we improve our services and make the city feel like home?

I challenge us all, let’s work together to get a higher grade of living in Oulu!

Thank you!