The founder and co-CEO of InterNations, Malte Zeeck, enjoyed Helsinki’s famous “white nights” and attended a summer event in the Finnish capital. Here are some impressions from his trip:
In summer 2013, I’d already been to an event hosted by the InterNations Helsinki Community and met the then Ambassador team, two expats from Russia and Venezuela, as well as a Finn working for the International Organization for Migration.
Funnily enough, the recent get-together I attended in the Finnish capital took place at the exact same venue where I’d already spent a night out on town two years ago — Maxine, a trendy bar and restaurant on the uppermost floor of the Kamppi shopping center complex, high above the rooftops of Helsinki.
At the event, I also saw two other former InterNations Ambassadors again — Jonathan from New Zealand and Steven from the UK — and, of course, I had the chance to get to know our current Ambassadors for the Helsinki Community team in person: Polina from Saint Petersburg is a PhD student and researcher at the University of Helsinki’s Institute of Biotechnology, while Isabella from Austria runs her own company for “upcycling” and sustainable design in Finland.
InterNations Events in Helsinki tend to begin rather early, especially when compared to my recent visits to Spain, and we also welcomed some special guests right at the start: We had scheduled an interview with Yle, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, who wanted to do a short portrait of the InterNations Helsinki Community (link in Finnish only – sorry!).
I was especially impressed by the great job that Isabella did during the interview. She has been living in Finland for quite a while now and has become fluent in Finnish.
Personally, I must admit that the language baffles me and is a bit beyond me: I only know that it is infamous for having fifteen different noun cases; it apparently features more umlaute than German, and even the sentence “En ymmärrä suomea” (‘I don’t understand Finnish’) seems kind of hard. Therefore I stand in awe of anyone who has mastered Finnish grammar and remain very grateful for the Finns’ excellent English language skills.
The InterNations members at the event were indeed a very international group of people: about 90 guests from several dozen countries attended the get-together, and I even recognized some familiar faces from two years ago. Polina and Isabella had the splendid idea to treat us all to a round of prosecco, so we could all toast the new InterNations logo and our ongoing website relaunch together.
Then it was my turn for the official thank-yous and celebrations: it was my pleasure to thank the InterNations Ambassadors for organizing this event, as well as our Group Consuls for offering such a variety of fun activities in Helsinki; our photographer Olli for taking all these great event pictures, the staff at Maxine’s for making us feel welcome and providing drinks at half the usual price, and, last but not least, our members for keeping Helsinki such an active and friendly InterNations Community.
A couple of Group Consuls seized the opportunity to introduce their InterNations Groups: Luis from Peru talked briefly about upcoming activities in the City & Outdoors Group, as well as the Helsinki Singles Group, and Austrian expat Karin invited everyone to a “coffeeklatch” with the Coffee & Cake Group.
During the long, bright Nordic summer night, the guests really seemed to enjoy themselves, and the TV crew — who were still filming at the event — didn’t disturb the relaxed and easy-going mood.
Now that we have over 5,800 InterNations members in the Helsinki Community, a few people approached me to ask about us opening another community in Finland, in the southwestern university town and seaport of Turku.
Let’s see if Turku will make it on the list for the next wave of new InterNations Communities around the globe!
(Image credit: Olli Huhtala)