Sanjay, who had moved to Vaasa as a young man to study, found it relatively easy to adjust to his new homeland, but arriving a few years later, Shweta found the move from Delhi and its millions of inhabitants to faraway Vaasa quite a culture shock. Making friends, learning new languages and building their whole life anew took a little time, but today Vaasa is a beloved hometown for this family of four. Sanjay works as an engineer at ABB, and his colleagues joke that the day he bought cross-country skis they knew he was becoming a Finn.
The family enjoy spending time outdoors and their hobbies include all kinds of recreation in nature. The beautiful landscapes of Vaasa and the Kvarken archipelago have made an unforgettable impression on the Sharmas.
“It’s easy to lead a healthy life here. The air is clean and in the summer, it’s so green everywhere,” says Shweta.
The Sharmas’ children, 12-year-old Aadit and 6-year-old Dia, were both born in Finland and go to a Finnish-speaking school, although the multilingual city has plenty of schooling available in other languages too. Sanjay’s working language at ABB is English and he travels all over the world as part of his work. One of the things he likes about Vaasa is how cosmopolitan it feels and he says that the city’s atmosphere is much more international than in many larger cities.
“In principle, I can get along with English in Vaasa, but I wanted to study Finnish because it helped me to start to feel at home here,” Sanjay says.
His wife Shweta, on the other hand, uses both Finnish and Swedish at work.
“I work with the elderly and they naturally want to speak their mother tongue.” In addition to benefitting their language skills, being sociable has helped the couple to adapt to the new culture and through work and studies they have built a large circle of friends.
“In India, you can’t really be alone anywhere, so when I came here I used to wonder where all the people were. Nowadays I really enjoy the silence,” Shweta laughs.