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Happy People of Vaasa

Rony Francis


When are you moving to Vaasa? This was the question my Finnish manager asked when I visited Vaasa on a business trip in 2011. I had no idea that a simple question can change my life completely in a couple of years.

I have been working with Citec Engineering, Mumbai branch in India since 2008. Three years later in 2011, my supervisor assigned me to do some work in the Vaasa branch for two months, and it was the first time I visited Finland. Two months was enough to take my decision to move my entire life to Vaasa. However, due to family issues, I could not move immediately.

When I moved in 2019, I faced some challenges in settling down because of the language difference. Nevertheless, my colleagues have been a great help, and thanks to them it did not take me long to adjust to my new environment and get familiar with the city.

What I like the most about living and working in Vaasa is having a work-life balance. Family life and mental health are highly valued in Finland, and this is something I really appreciate. Back in my home country, India, work boundaries were not clear. I could expect a call from my manager or colleagues after working hours even at 9 o’clock in the evening, and this was the main cause of my exhaustion and burnout.

I found peace of my mind in Vaasa, and I am so blissful with my life here. I do my work which I am happy with, I have enough time to spend with my family, and I have everything I need around me.

During the past three years, Vaasa has been my wellness retreat and my go-to happy place. Among many other favourite places, I love Stundars open-air museum, especially during the Christmas season when I enjoy the festive ambience of Christmas and see the joyful spirit filling the place.

Fernanda Arriaga

After spending one semester in Vaasa as an exchange student in 2020, I knew that Vaasa is the city for me, and I had to come back. Two years later, here I am pursuing my education and living in the city that has completely stolen a piece of my heart.

The six months I have spent in Vaasa during my exchange have allowed me to feel safe; I could walk at night or during the short winter days when it’s dark, and I know that nothing bad will happen to me. I felt free, more independent, and most importantly calm and safe.

Vaasa is a small cosy city that has everything I could wish for. Every day I fall in love with its welcoming atmosphere and its lively university vibes. In addition to the international environment that enabled me to explore different cultures and make new friends from all around the world.

My favourite two spots in Vaasa are the market square in the city centre and the Hietasaari beach in front of Åbo Akademi, my university campus.

The Finnish winter has been quite challenging for me since I am originally from the south of Mexico where it is usually hot and sunny all over the year, however, with time, I developed my tactics to overcome the darkness. I immersed myself in my hobbies such as reading and watching American football along with spending quality time with my friends and doing several activities together. Now, I can say that I am fully adapted to the weather, and I am so much looking forward to the dreamy snow.

After completing my master’s degree, I am planning to become a Spanish language teacher and pursue my doctoral degree in the field of education. I will continue enjoying the magical sunsets from my classroom at Åbo Akademi university while picturing my peaceful future here in Vaasa.

Chamara Dissanayake

It is quite normal to experience culture shock when you travel to a new country, especially if it is in a different continent. However, this was not the case when I came to Vaasa four months ago with my wife.

I am originally from a coastal city in Sri Lanka called Negombo. A major city along the Indian Ocean, famous for its fish industries. When I moved to Vaasa for my wife’s studies, we luckily got our apartment close to Onkilahti bay. A short walking distance to Mansikkasaari beach where I experienced the soul of the city and immediately got this instant connection with Vaasa as my second coastal hometown.

It didn’t take me long to realize how easy it is to live in Vaasa. The accessibility of the amazingly beautiful nature from forests, and beaches, to parks and hiking trails. In addition to the availability of markets, universities, and pharmacies. Everything is reachable on foot or by bike, which saves a lot of time and energy, and simply makes me happy.

Vaasa is also the perfect place to pursue my hobby in photography with all the spectacular landscapes in the different seasons all over the year.

The support I got from the local people is another bonus of living here. Once I moved, I registered myself in the Welcome Office mail list and joined the spouse program which enabled me to broaden my network both personally and professionally.

My biggest dream now is to find a job that matches my qualifications in marketing and sales. And for that, I am joining a development program called “Business Lead” in the next year hoping it will be the fast track to my employment, and the start of finding my professional way here in Vaasa.

Karla Miranda

I have been living in Vaasa for less than 4 months, and I was lucky to experience a lot of things that made me grateful and happy to be here.

Vaasa is my safe haven where I experience the real meaning of safety and freedom. I feel comfortable and confident doing a lot of things here, unlike my home country, Mexico where I used to rely on my mother a lot even in doing simple tasks.

I met my real self here in Vaasa, and I am forever grateful for this encounter.

I am currently doing my teaching practice in the upper secondary school of Vasa Övningsskola, and I love to see my students’ progress in the Spanish language. It boosts my happiness and fuels my success.

For me, Vaasa has a magical combination between beautiful accessible nature and lovely people who are willing to help anytime.

Sasini Gunasekera

I have moved to Vaasa 4 months ago to do my master’s in International Business at the University of Vaasa.

The calmness and serendipity I found in Vaasa assured me that I made the right decision to move here. The simplicity of reaching everything by foot or bike saves me a lot of mental calculations. I don’t have to wait in the bus line or rush in the early mornings to avoid the traffic as I used to do in my home country, Sri Lanka.

The fresh clean air and the rich greenery are also the main factors to my happiness here. I love how people in Vaasa are taking care of the environment and listing it as a first priority.

I am currently working towards having an internship in my field to start shaping my professional career in Finland while enjoying going outdoors and witnessing my first snow ever.

Liya Antony

All the way from South India, I accompanied my husband to Vaasa in 2019. With the help of his Finnish colleagues, we gradually managed to settle down and now, I can say that I am happy to be one of the Vaasa residents.

If I can conclude the secret of my happiness in two words, I would say “socializing” and “travelling”. Vaasa is an active city offering a lot of cultural and social events. I took advantage of this environment and became active myself. Never missed any event, or social gathering, connected with many people and eventually created my social circle. One of these events was the “Nights of arts” last summer, where I was happy to introduce the traditional Indian culture to Vaasa.

Travelling is my other secret; in such a short period of time, my husband and I travelled all over Finland from Inari up in the north to Helsinki in the south, and I got to know more about the Finnish culture.

My biggest challenge now is finding a job related to my computer engineering background. I have even been considering moving to another place, but why would I leave the city that I feel happy and most connected to?

I am struggling to find a job, yes, but I am not giving up. I engaged myself in different competence and integration programs, and I believe that my effort will pay off soon. Currently, I am enjoying my social life while being an active job seeker who sees a lot of potential in Vaasa.


The stories were produced in the Talent Coastline Employment project.