The ECHA employees talk about their experiences in Helsinki
Rui Frango, HR Officer, ECHA: Sport lover in Helsinki
“I started at ECHA in October 2012. That year it snowed in November, and the snow did not melt until the spring. I don’t mind the cold. I love snow and I also like skiing.
My family followed me after the first winter. I told them that it never rains in Helsinki; it either snows or it’s fair. There’s hardly any rainfall. After moving to Helsinki, my wife questioned my meteorological skills. She works as researcher at the University of Helsinki, and we have a daughter who goes to school here. Helsinki is a safe and comfortable city to live in.
We live in Jätkäsaari and I cycle to work. I think Helsinki has excellent bicycle lanes.
My wife and I walk our boxer Dima together. I have many hobbies—running, cycling and football. It has been easy for me to find people to play football with.
Running, walking and cycling workouts are an excellent way to become familiar with the city. When I’m training for a marathon, I exercise five times a week. I start at Jätkäsaari, run along the shoreline to Hakaniemi or around the Lauttasaari island. Sometimes, I run to Tapiola and come back via Munkkiniemi.
On weekends, I tend to go out before the streets have been cleaned up after the previous night’s parties. But the city always cleans the streets really quickly! Even my family have noticed how clean the city is when they have visited us from Portugal.”
My favourite spot is Central Park
“I love the vast green area in the centre of the city. I run, walk, cycle and, weather permitting, ski in the Central Park. One can see the changing seasons from close up in the park. I also like the nearby Eläintarha Sports Park. I use it for my track workouts.”
Julia Sierra, Communication Support, ECHA: “Helsinki ticks all the boxes of urban living”
“I first visited Helsinki in the summer 11 years ago. I was touring around Finland with my friends, and I decided that I would return one day.
Four years ago, I returned to Helsinki to study. I have worked at ECHA for a little over two years now. I am responsible for internal communication support. I use English at work, but I try to speak Finnish every day.
Music is my dearest hobby. I sing and play the guitar in my free time. Helsinki has a lot to offer to those who love music, from grand concerts to hip clubs in Kallio. During the four years I have lived here, I have already noticed how immensely the city has changed since my first visit. It has become larger, more international and friendly.
Helsinki has all the essentials of urban living plus a beautiful natural environment with seafronts and forests.
I live in Kamppi. I used to live in Malmi and Kannelmäki where I had immediate access to forests and lakes from my flat. Nature is never far away in Helsinki, which feels luxurious to me. I come from Madrid, where only the wealthiest residents have regular access to the few parks and green areas.
When I host friends from abroad, I always take them to Suomenlinna, the Senate Square, Sibelius Park and, of course, the city centre. I also like to show them the Hietaniemi cemetery and Café Regatta and take them on a walk along the shoreline.”
My favourite spots are Hietaniemi beach and Café Regatta
“My favourite place in Helsinki is the beach in Hietaniemi and Café Regatta in Töölö. The warm and cosy café is beautifully set right by the sea.”
Kaihsu Tai, Scientific Officer, ECHA: “Optimistic art nouveau fascinates me”
“I start my days by walking to the ECHA office via Kalevankatu. The street has many interesting buildings, and those that represent art nouveau interest me in particular.
Art nouveau architecture was influenced by Asian countries and Arabic decorations, but it also had elements of local nature and ornaments in it. The turn of the 20th century was a time of great optimism, and I think we could learn something from those days.
Art nouveau has fascinated me for a long time. I travel across Europe to admire art nouveau architecture in cities such as Barcelona Glasgow and Riga—or take the tram to Katajanokka in Helsinki.
My wife and I moved to Helsinki from Oxford in 2010. She is half Finnish half English, so we had been to Finland before. On one of our holidays, we were walking along Annankatu and I pointed to ECHA, saying that it would be a dream come true to work there.
I used to work as researcher at Oxford, and my duties in ECHA include scientific assessment.
I was recently granted Finnish citizenship. I am starting to get used to being Finnish. I learn more Finnish every day.
The public transport network is extremely functional in Helsinki, and the city is unique because of its proximity to nature: wherever you go in Helsinki, you are within walking distance of a forest or the seashore. Furthermore, Helsinki has good flight connections to Asia. My family, sister and parents live in Taiwan, and they have visited us in Finland.”
My favourite spot is Huopalahti Church
“I work five full days at ECHA every week. On Sundays, I go to church with my wife in Huopalahti. Going to the church has made us part of the community. We meet, discuss things and eat together with our neighbours. These moments are precious to me, which is why I chose the church as my favourite spot.”
Gabriella Cseh, Management Support Officer, ECHA: “The tranquillity and Finnish food won me over”
“I have worked at ECHA and lived in Helsinki for a couple of years. I was positively surprised by the city. Helsinki is close to nature. The city feels safe and everything works smoothly here.
I used to live in Brussels before I moved to Helsinki, working at the European Parliament. I am originally from Hungary, and I have studied in Budapest and Paris.
Helsinki is a relatively small city. Even the most frantic moments during the Hullut Päivät seasonal sale at Stockmann feel like a regular Friday in Brussels. I feel calm, even relaxed in Helsinki, although I have an intense job and I study alongside it. I study communication at the open university and take Finnish lessons at ECHA
Finnish food has truly won me over. It is unbelievably tasty, made from the season’s best ingredients, berries and vegetables! Finnish cuisine also has delicious seasonal pastries, such as Runeberg tortes, May day funnel cakes and doughnuts. I love Finnish bread and Karelian pastries, and I have made some myself. I cook a lot in my free time.¨
Before I started at ECHA, I worked at the European Parliament and I was active in politics. From my perspective, the Finnish society is a good place to live in. Finnish schools have an excellent reputation worldwide. People follow the rules and are willing to support society so that no-one is left alone.”
My favourite spot is by the sea, between Mattolaituri and Café Carusel
“My favourite spot in Helsinki is by the sea, between Mattolaituri and Café Carusel. I like watching the sea. The ice and the way it forms and melts are unique phenomena for me. And Café Carusel sells locally produced ice cream by Kolmen Kaverin Jäätelö. Last year’s new flavour was cinnamon bun. Delicious!”
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