Tampere Ambassador: Mira Valkonen

Where are you from?
I'm originally from Mikkeli, Eastern Finland, Southern Savonia region. Later I wanted to move to some other city to live and study. I chose Tampere because I had heard it's such an awesome place. In 2008 I packed my stuff and moved here - even though I had never visited the city before. A year after this I got accepted at the University and I feel here I'm home.

What would you like to tell about yourself?
I am an interanationally-minded person full of ideas and I love getting to know new people, cultures and countries. I love to travel. There are many amazing places to see and many cool people to meet out there. The best things what I like about Finland is excellent selections of candy, sauna, silent nature and straightforward people. My favourite series is Dexter and I prefer tea over coffee.

Why is Tampere the best place to live?
Home is where your heart is - and mine is in Tampere. I find Tampere a great city which has it all and where you can reach every place by foot or bicycle. Tampere is a lively student city with interesting enterprises, lovely nature and relaxed atmosphere.

Tell about your professional activities?
I am working as a career coach helping people to find their skills and strengths and an ideal working place to use them. I'm also doing voluntary work in projects dealing with global education and human rights. I'm also a student at the University of Tampere and currently doing my Master's thesis about Finnish students' experiences in foreign degree programmes in Europe.

What is your involvement in international activities?
I would say I'm quite active when it comes to international activities. At work I'm dealing with customers all over the world and using English and Spanish as working languages. I have friends from different countries I'm in touch and spend time with, living in Tampere, or in other countries. I've also done some traveling around and would like to do it even more. I've studied for a year in the States and Spain as an exchange student, been an international tutor for Uni students, and participated in international activities such as language groups, events and couch surfing... And if that is not enough, my German boyfriend makes sure there is a bit of internationality in my every day life.

What is your mission as a Tampere Ambassador?
One mission would be to make Finnish and foreign people to meet more. For example, a lot of foreign students might not get to know well any Finnish people. Also foreign people who work in Finland might have their own international group of people they spend time with but getting to know Finns is challenging. If foreign and Finnish people met and networked more, it would benefit both sides.

Also I find it important to bring the message of diversity to the Finnish companies and contribute to Finnish working life to become more international in many ways. I'm writing a thesis about Finnish students who are doing or have recently done their degree abroad. Many of these students are thinking of coming back to Finland to work but confront difficulties with Finnish employers - many of them are suspicious when it comes to skills gained abroad or a foreign degree. Also I'm eager to see what a bunch of Tamperelovers can achieve in general to make this place as loveable for other people as well.

What potential do you see for Tampere in the future?
I think Tampere has a lot of potential not only because of its good location but also because it is functional and cosy in many ways. There is something for everyone, as much for settled families as for partying students or curious tourists. I wish that more Finnish and foreign enterprises would see this potential in the future as well. I also believe that Tampere could use more of its potential in tourism - it is a place where historical views and future innovations meet, a lovely place with nature, vivid city life and unique culture.

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