The Pietarsaari region is quite bilingual. Its strong export industry has given the region many international characteristics, and the majority of the people in the region are Swedish-speaking. However, you do not need to be nervous about the bilingualism, explains a couple that moved to the area.
Marjo and Antti Santanen work at the Billerud paper mill in Alholma, Pietarsaari. Marjo Santanen came to Pietarsaari through the UPM Research Centre in Lappeenranta to complete her Master’s thesis at UPM in 2008. Her first experience of the paper industry convinced her that she had chosen the right career and that Pietarsaari was the right home.
A couple of years later, life moved Marjo out of Pietarsaari, but she returned to the city in 2018 as Quality and Environment Manager at the Billerud paper mill.
Antti Santanen is from Pori and worked at the Billerud Tervasaari paper mill in Valkeakoski until it was closed down and the paper machine transferred to Sweden in 2016. He found a new job through an internal transfer to Pietarsaari, home to Billeruds only paper machine in Finland. As Shift Supervisor, Antti monitors safety, quality and production at the mill.
The couple only knows Swedish through their studies, but they have not seen it as an obstacle. The Santanen family received a warm welcome both at the mill and in the city.
“We definitely recommend coming here and having an open mind,” Antti says. “Of course, it depends on the work community if you need Swedish daily or not, but it’s easy to get by here and enjoy the city.”
“And there’s plenty of work,” he notes. The Pietarsaari region is a growing region that receives investments and more capacity.
Marjo’s two elder children are in a language immersion school, and the couple’s child has started in a Swedish-speaking language immersion daycare centre. Marjo uses Swedish often with her Swedish colleagues, but the rest of the work community in Pietarsaari is quite Finnish-speaking.
“I appreciate the fact that you can bike anywhere as it’s a small city, and the distances are short when you are running errands,” Marjo says. “It was easy to enter our children in the school and daycare centre of our choice, and there are plenty of options for free-time activities for both adults and children.”