Thomas Poole

Thomas Poole moved here from South Africa to explore opportunities with his girlfriend in December 2012.

What do you do here in Finland?

I currently own and operate a small event photography, photojournalism and media business out of a small studio in North Helsinki. I also work as a bartender, am currently completing my journalism degree as well as a volunteer internship at Helsinki Times.

When and how did you end up here?

I moved here from London with my girlfriend in December of last year when she had to return to Helsinki to prepare for her entrance exams for university. Having lived in Thailand, Amsterdam and Vancouver before that, I decided it was time to move on and explore new opportunities. London is a very difficult city to establish oneself as an entrepreneur and the high quality of life, the Finnish education and social systems attracted me to move here.

What attracts you about the Finnish culture?

The honesty of the people. I find that Finns generally tend to either remain silent or engage in what they feel is meaningful conversation. In a recent independent experiment, it was found that 11 out of 13 wallets left lying around in the city were either returned to their owners or handed in to lost and found.

What culture shocks did you experience when coming to Finland?

I suppose what can be perceived as negativity from the Finns... I soon discovered that this was actually just reserved honesty.

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

I’ve realised that Finns sincerely appreciate hard work and honesty. With this in mind I’ve found it relatively easy to find full time work, set up two photography businesses as well as register my Media TMI (Arctic Sun Media.TMI) and undertake a volunteer internship at the Helsinki Times newspaper in the space of under a year. Finns are also generally very accepting and are genuinely interested in South Africa, it’s political, social and environmental dynamics, so I never really have trouble meeting people or engaging in casual conversation.

What are/were your worries?

At first I was worried about finding full time work, but since that has been taken care of, nothing serious to be honest.

What are your future wishes for your life here?

I would like to see my photography and media businesses take off to a point where they are self-sustainable sources of income and I can live my dream as a freelance photojournalist. I’m also hoping to publish my first book on the wildlife smuggling trade in the next year. I also hope to be able to live the Finnish dream of building myself a log cabin in the forests next to a lake at some point one day.

What is your favourite Finnish word?

Voi voi. This has so many uses, such as meaning ‘well, well’, or ‘don’t make such a big deal of it’.