At the end of September 2020, I moved, along with my business Koala Consulting and Training, from the Finnish capital Helsinki to Joensuu, the capital of North Karelia, in Finland’s east.
If you’re a native English speaker, you probably don’t know how to pronounce “Joensuu” correctly. In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) it looks like this: /’joensu:/. If you’re not familiar with the symbols of the IPA, say it like this: “yo-en-sue” with stress on the first syllable, and hold the vowel at the end a little longer. Very good!
The name “Joensuu” means “River’s Mouth” in English, so named because it’s at the mouth of the Pielinen River. It was chartered by Czar Nicholas I of Russia in 1848, when Finland was a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire. Soon after, it became a key regional trade hub, and still maintains that role, with transport connections by boat, road and air. The lush forests of the area play an important role in the Finnish wood industry, and for the same reason, the European Forest Institute (EFI) is based here. The population in July 2020 was 76,334.
Joensuu is a university town. I studied at the University of Joensuu to finish my Master of Organisational Psychology, spending five months there when I first came to Finland, so I know it a little already. The University of Joensuu later merged with the University of Kuopio to form the University of Eastern Finland (UEF), a research-based school for the region. Another place of higher learning is the Karelia University of Applied Sciences (UAS), which collaborates closely with local business.
My girlfriend and I chose to come to Joensuu for a number of reasons. First and foremost, she’s been working as a consulting neurologist in the North Karelia region for a while, and this means she doesn’t have to commute from Helsinki any more. Secondly, we’re getting older, and we were tired of the hustle and bustle of the Finnish capital; we wanted something quieter, with less people, that’s closer to nature. Thirdly, Helsinki has become the epicentre of coronavirus in Finland. Although it’s present in Karelia, there’s not much. Fourthly, my girlfriend is originally from here, so she feels at home. And lastly, because I used to study here, I feel more at home, too.
What’s going to happen in Joensuu regarding Koala Consulting and Training? Since the coronavirus hit us in the spring, I’ve been working with my clients online, and it will continue like that for the foreseeable future. I’m developing a new presentations programme to develop webinar skills that should be ready for a trial run early next year. I’ll also be looking for local businesses around Joensuu and North Karelia who would like to use my services.
But as my website says: “Based in Joensuu. Available everywhere.” Wherever you are on Earth, please feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to give you what you need, and if I can’t, I probably know somebody who can.