My kind of life in Kuopio

When you come from different culture and environment, beginning a new life in Kuopio can seem exotic, even a bit intimidating. There are many reasons for moving to Kuopio, and every new citizen has their story to tell. Here are two of them.

Football brought Lavdije Begolli to Finland

In 2021 the Kuopio KuPS football club had almost a perfect season, as the Ladies’ and the Youth teams won their respective championships and the Men’s team finished second in the league. One of the mainstays of the women’s championship team is the midfielder Lavdije “Lavi” Begolli. But how did an Albanian become a Savonian in the first place?

The Finnish challenge

Lavi is a professional footballer, who moved to Finland in 2017. She spent three seasons in Jyväskylä before transferring to KuPS.

“Last year I got an offer from KuPS, which I knew was a good team and offered a chance for championship. And championship was my ultimate goal.”

But why choose Finland in the first place?

“In Albania I was studying in sports university, playing football professionally and helping in a family business. So, when my agent told me about the option to come here, I knew it would be a challenge, but that’s what I was looking for, so I decided to take it on.”

“I had absolutely no idea about Finland and spoke just a little English when I arrived in 2017. It was cold and dark, and the first weeks were really hard. I thought of quitting and going back but decided to tough it out.”

Cold and dark winters, warm and busy summers

With spring turning to summer and her language skills improving, life started to get easier and Lavi realised that she really enjoyed being in Finland.

“I like it here, not so much winter when it is cold and dark, but light summers, when it’s nice and warm.”

“Of course, for a footballer the summer is busy. We have a lot of games and train twice a day, and then there is the school, but afterwards I like to go hiking or spend time with my friends.”

A chef in the making

As Lavi mentioned before, she also studies in Kuopio.

“I have studied now for 6 months in a chef school. My goal is to graduate in about 3–4 years’ time and after my career start working in a restaurant and later maybe open one of my own. That’s my dream, or maybe I should call it a new challenge.”

“But as for now, I will concentrate on my first career. I still have many years left as a football player and hope to win more championships with the team. The next challenges come only after that.”

What about Kuopio – are you going to stay?

“Yes! I like it here and I’m even learning Finnish. I don’t have plans to move out.”

Susanne Csader found her inner nature lover

Susanne Csader from Germany is a PhD student whose research area is the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. When she spotted an opening in University of Eastern Finland, she naturally applied for it. Only after receiving an invitation to an interview, she Googled up “Kuopio”.

Into the unknown

Finland wasn’t really on Susanne’s list before, and she didn’t have a too clear picture where she was heading.

“I didn’t know that much about Finland and nothing at all about Kuopio. All I knew were the usual stereotypes: snow, drinking and darkness.”

“The only city I knew was the capital, Helsinki, and I figured that Kuopio can’t be that far away from there. Then I opened the map of Finland and zoomed out and out from Helsinki and realised – Oh, it’s up there, some 400 km from Helsinki!”.

“Still and all I thought to visit there. And right from the beginning the people were so nice and the facility was great and all. And right then I decided to move here.“

An adventure in Finland

Susanne moved to Kuopio in January and hasn’t regretted the choice.

“I’m really happy about the decision. There wasn’t really any cultural shock. Right from the beginning I felt welcome and like at home, so for me it’s more like an exciting adventure. I’ve gotten a lot of friends and colleagues and people here are so kind and helpful.”

“Of course, there is the language barrier. I’m studying Finnish, but the language so hard, harder than I imagined. And for example, when I’d like to try some creative hobbies, almost all the courses are in Finnish.”

“Apart from that, my time in Kuopio has been really nice. Especially the summers when there’s so much to do.”

“I wasn’t actually that keen on hiking in nature before, but now I’m really into biking and I often go canoeing with my friends. It’s so easy to just go outside in the summertime and do stuff. I guess in Kuopio I have grown into it and appreciate the nature more.”

“This year (2021) I spend a week in Lapland with friends and enjoyed the hiking. That might be a new hobby for me.”

The future is open

Susanne has now spent three years in Finland working on her PhD. At the moment she’s staying in Hong Kong as a part of the project.

“I just received a further funding for my work in Finland, which means that I’ll be staying for a while, but after that my future is open.”

“Before COVID-19 pandemic I was thinking of maybe looking for a job here, but because of the current situation I haven’t been able to visit my family and friends as often as I would have liked. That is also something to think about when planning my future.”

“But never say never, with the right opportunity I could see myself staying in Kuopio for a while. Only the future will tell.”

This article has been published in Kuopio by Nature – Read the journal online (