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10 reasons to love Kuopio

As a woman who has been living in Kuopio for nearly 8 years, I have had to face many types of challenges, from adjusting to the extreme weather, re-starting my professional career to learning Finnish and forming a family; my new life in Kuopio is a rollercoaster full of experiences so I decided, in order to help anyone who might be new here or be thinking about coming here, to share my list of 10 reasons why to love this city.

1.    Resources: as an immigrant in Kuopio, you get all types of help from the city to make your arrival less stressful. There are integration courses where you learn and practice a great deal of Finnish language, as well as information on how this society works. Did you know that Kuopio organizes events specifically for immigrants who are looking for a job? Well, this is another service the city offers and it´s always free of charge.  If you are a student, the University arranges networking events and courses to introduce you to life in Kuopio.

2.    Safeness: Yeap, in all of these years I have never been robbed or felt unsafe. I have forgotten my passport and wallet on public places and found them exactly where I left them. In Kuopio you can walk alone in the night without worries. It´s so safe that you see small kids walking to school or riding a bus on their own. Now that I’m a mom, I am so glad to live here where I’m not afraid and I know my kid can grow up in a safe environment.

3.    Size: not a tiny nor a massive city. Even though Kuopio is growing and expanding, it´s still a great size to have reasonable distances, you can walk or bike almost everywhere. In here, you can forget about the traffic jam and morning chaos.

4.    Northern Lights: you read it right! You can absolutely see them right here, from the comfort of your balcony. I have done it many times and it´s one of my favorite treats this city offers, I don’t need to drive hours to the north to see them. Here are 2 of the pictures I have taken:

5.    People: “Kuopiolaiset” have been so nice to me! I have never experienced racism here, yes, at first Finnish people can be shy to talk to you but once they get to know you and start building a friendship, you realize how warm and talkative they are. They always show interest when they know I’m from Mexico, and after saying “tequila!” they want to know more about my culture and my hometown, which is exciting because I get to talk about my beloved country.

6.    Urban development: new buildings, new areas, new spaces and even a new city district! Kuopio is really modernizing itself and giving the city a fresh look. At the moment, the new Swimming Hall is being built. It will be the biggest in the country, so there you go!

7.    Location: many people think that if not in capital area, then it´s “middle of nowhere” area. Let me tell you that in my experience, it´s not difficult to travel from Kuopio; the city has bus connections, a train station and an airport. For example, you get to Rovaniemi in 5 hours (better than 9 hours from Helsinki!) and to Helsinki in 4 hours.

8.    Family services: I was surprised to see all the help parents get! If your life situation is overwhelming, the city offers you the option to have a person coming to your house and help you with whatever you need, daily chores, cooking, or just being there as company. I do need to say that this comes with a very affordable and reasonable fee. Perhetalo is another example, this is a place where you can go to meet families, there are toys available, kitchen area and a place to relax. It also organizes events for parents and children.

9.    Kallavesi: biggest lake in the region, 90 km length, gives plenty of options for hobbies. In winter you can go ice swimming, fish through ice, skate or ski. In summer you can go swimming, take a cruise, practice paddling, kayaking and more.

10.    Kompassi: this cultural house has been the starting point of my closest friendships. In here you can meet people from different countries, study Finnish and other languages, practice a hobby and get advice on different aspects of life such as living, working, health and schooling. Kompassi’s services are free of charge and open for everyone.

No wonder Kuopio is known as the “pearl of Savo area”, it´s a beautiful city which combines nature and services at your reach. You can walk in clean streets, breath pure air and have a great quality of life.

Text and photos: Cristina Eivet