Mette Helve exchanged a high profile career in Denmark for a down to earth lifestyle in Finland

What do you do here in Finland?

I’m self-employed as a pottery maker and café owner

When and how did you end up here?

I fell in love with a Finnish gardener during a Christmas holiday in the Canaries in 2000. I moved from Copenhagen to live with him outside Turku the following summer.

What attracts you about the Finnish culture?

The Finns because they possess a strong sense of propriety. The nature because it’s open and vast with beautiful trees, I live in the middle of it.

What culture shocks did you experience when coming to Finland?

I had just retired from a 25-year-long professional career as viola concertmaster in a symphony orchestra, when I moved to Finland. Leaving Copenhagen I also left the big city life in which I was on stage in high heels and make-up every evening. Instead I started growing organic vegetables and eventually bought a ceramic oven and taught myself pottery making. Because my life changed so dramatically it’s difficult to separate the culture shock from the life change shock.

Have you been able to settle and integrate into Finnish society?

Yes. I speak the language and I enjoy life here very much. My ceramics sold from the beginning and last year I opened a small café in connection with my studio – baking and selling organic Danish pastry and ‘smørrebrød’ (open faced sandwiches).

What are/were your worries?

When I moved to Finland I left two teenage children behind. They were 17 and 18 years and I was worried how our relationship would develop. It went well; luckily there are direct flights between Copenhagen and Turku.

What are your future hopes and wishes for your life here?

I hope my health can keep up with all the things I want to do.

What is you favourite Finnish word?

Hallavaara (frost danger) because it has such a nice ring to it.

Karen Witt Olsen