by Jens Christian Trier
June 2011 – this is the first time I fly by myself.
I just turned 18 and had only tried it a few times before. Destination? Helsinki. I am from the generation where meeting and connecting with people online has become a common thing. I always had a fascination for Nordic countries. I was born and grew up in Denmark – a small land, flat country much closer to Germany, but related to the pronunciation of the language, but also physically illustrated through the land border with the southern neighbour, whereas the ocean separates the Nordics from the rest of “continental” Europe.
I already travelled in Norway and Sweden when I was younger and highly enjoyed the enormous landscape and the nicer-sounding languages. Crossing the ocean always felt like entering a portal to adventure. But this time, I was going even further – across Öresund and the Baltic Sea as well to this fascinating country with a very different language.
This was the first time I went to Finland. After a warm welcome and a great week enjoying Juhannus with my friend Pyry, I was pretty much sold. Since then, I’ve come back many times, and for some reason, developing relationships with Finnish people seemed to be very natural for me. Most of them friendly, but also a few romantic ones – and the last one brought me to actually officially move to this fascinating land of a thousand lakes at the beginning of this year.
My family background is diverse – both ethnically and religiously. I believe this indirectly gave me an international mindset and curiosity about the world outside of the small pond that is Denmark. I decided to study international relations at the university and embarked on over 15 international trips during that time only to discuss international issues in a United Nations- themed manner. One of those trips took me to Helsinki in both 2018 and 2019. In 2018, I met Kelly Keodara during one of these conferences, and we’ve been friends since. When she told me about Bloom in the autumn of 2020, I was sold because it focused on the international aspect that I find so sacred – but in one space in one city, bringing it all together!
At the time Kelly told me about Bloom, I was actually living in London. I had been living in Uppsala (Sweden) to pursue a Master’s degree since 2019, trying to at the same time maintain a relationship with a Finn I met in the summer of 2019. I met this person when I was visiting a friend in Helsinki in 2019. I believe many other internationals who happen to meet a Finn face the same issue as I did – trying to find a way to be with that person, but in a new country where you don’t know the main spoken language and in certain cases, not knowing the cultural customs.
But this was the time before anyone could imagine the 20s to kick off with a pandemic. The pandemic came as both a blessing and a curse. I could not see my partner for a long time because the borders were closed. I could not travel to amazing conferences and maintain my friendships around the world. But then everything turned virtual! Being able to work remotely in London suddenly gave me the opportunity to move to Finland – the only thing being having to deal with the two-hour difference. I decided to settle in Tampere to be able to help set up Bloom – and in January, I was welcomed by a veil of snow over this amazing city caught between two lakes. Having visited before, it felt great to come back and see it in a different setting. It was amazing to also be able to be close to my partner without worrying about crossing borders – and together, we could explore Tampere.
But many internationals are not in the same situation as me. I am already lucky that I speak at least one official language of the country and I have a partner who can help me. I am lucky that I can work from here. My wish is for Bloom to be able to help both internationals and locals meet, exchange cultures and knowledge and be empowered. I believe we are going in the right direction — because together, we can achieve so much, and together, we can make Finland more inclusive.
For more information about Bloom, please visit www.bloomtogether.fi