Where are you from?

I am from Finland. I moved from Helsinki to Cleveland ten years ago.

Why did you #ChooseCLE (what brought you to Cleveland)?

My husband is American and he grew up in the Cleveland area. Even though I was always interested in different cultures and countries, I never thought I would end up living in the U.S. until I met him. He convinced me that Cleveland is the place to be!

What were your first thoughts about coming to America? Did those change?

I have always loved traveling and exploring different cultures, so I approached moving here as an exciting adventure. Any country has its good and bad sides and as an expat I can celebrate all the great things about both countries I claim mine!

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here?

Cleveland is a very welcoming place and I have made wonderful friends in here. Both friends and family have helped make me feel like home so it has been a very smooth transition. Culturally, Finland isn’t too different so I didn’t experience a major culture shock when moving here.

What is your occupation?

I am Development and Membership Manager at the Cleveland Council on World Affairs. It is a great organization that helps connect my personal story and interest in global issues to my professional background.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

People are always interested in hearing about my background and welcome the diversity. I have never felt like an outsider here.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

We celebrate Finnish holidays and add a Finnish flair to those holidays that are celebrated here. I occasionally cook traditional Finnish food and I speak Finnish with my children, who were both born here in the U.S.

What do you love about Cleveland?

Cleveland is a great place to live: pace of life and cost of living are great, it is easy to get around, there are great restaurants and outdoor activities, you can find wonderful arts and culture, and Clevelanders are friendly and welcoming people. Cleveland is a surprisingly international place for a city its size. I love that diversity here.

What is your favorite thing to do in Cleveland?

My favorite way to start a day is to walk to On the Rise Bakery in Cleveland Heights for breakfast – their breads are amazing and they bake authentic Finnish rye bread!