Catalans Abroad

Núria Altimir

Turku (Finland)

Northern lights

Why did you leave Catalonia?

I was following a Finn! That is usually the (only?) reason for a Catalan lady to agree to move far North. Luckily, the move made it also possible to pursue a scientific career, which would have not been easy otherwise in Barcelona during late 90s' crisis.

Why did you choose Turku?

My husband was appointed to Turku, so the whole family followed.

How long have you live there?

I moved to Finland before that, in 1996, and -to make a long story short – let's say that I have been in Turku for three years in a row now.

Are you happy with the job opportunities you found in your adoptive country?

Yes, especially when I arrived, absolutely yes because I could have not done the same in Catalonia. Right now, however, it is getting harder to get good jobs in Finland as well. Even universities are downsizing and competition in my field is getting impossibly fierce.

What do you think is the best thing about living in Turku?

Turku is a person-size big town. It is a city with services, universities, business, industries and an old town and cathedral and all, but at the same time you can move around by bike and everything seems to be just 15 minutes away by car.

What do you consider the highlights for any brief visit for the first time?

The basic Turku visit is the center of the town, the Aura river and its museums, and the Castle. Then it depends on what time of the year the visit is. Summer offers endless light and lots of time to walk around in the super green parks and the bar terraces, whereas winter challenges the visitor to stay a lot more indoors. There are several key events to make the visit dates match. Turku sets up a rather handsome Christmas fair and it is the place from where the Christmas peace is officially declared to the whole of Finland. During summer there is a successful Medieval fair that suits the rich history of the town. There is also the Ruisrock music festival, the oldest in Finland.

And if visitors have more time or make a return visit?

Then one should definitively come back during summer and reach out to the Turku Archipielago. I have not been there myself yet and it is definitively on the to-do list.

What do you miss most from home?

Of course the weather, the food and to speak in my own language. But also the spontaneity in human relations. It can be a challenge here to get close to people, Finns are in general rather reserved and ritualistic.

Do you plan to go back to Catalonia?

I have already been able to live and work in Catalonia for one and two-year periods in recent times. And, yes, I would like to go back whenever the possibility arises again, although I know when I go back there is a cultural shock waiting for me.

Núria altimir Núria is from Barcelona, Sants, and moved to Finland three years ago. She works in scientific image processing.

Some suggestions

M.Àngels Ribas

Can you recommend a place to have lunch with friends?

There is a raw food restaurant called Pure that deserves all my respects. The environment is informal but the food is delicious and healthy.

Where would you have a special dinner for two?

At an Italian restaurant by the river called Sergio's, great food and atmosphere. Also by the river, Pinella.

When is the best time of year to plan a visit?

Summer is the best and winter is the most exotic.

What is the best kept secret about the area?

Like the whole of Finland, the place is best enjoyed by getting close to nature. For the sporty people this is paradise, as you can practice for free and with few restrictions skiing, skating, canoeing, running, name it. And, please, try a sauna followed by a dip in the cold (or better frozen) waters. Look for “avantouinti”.

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