Helena

Finland

This is 
Helena Rytilahti (1988)

Country of Origin
Finland

Lives in
Centrum-Jordaan

In the Netherlands since 
2009

Profession
Project officer at the European Cultural Foundation

Misses
In the Netherlands you can never have a moment of silence, people always fill them up

Loves 
The first days of spring in Amsterdam

Can’t get here
Sima, a Finnish drink

Finland in Amsterdam 
Walking in the Amsterdamse Bos

“My Portuguese friend kept talking about Hamsterdam. We were always laughing about it. Eventually we visited Amsterdam as part of a group and the first thing we felt was that overwhelming feeling of being surrounded by a crowd; the masses. But it was a good crowd.

At the start of 2014 I moved to Amsterdam together with a Dutch friend I had met in Groningen when I was there as an exchange student. We had lived in four countries together - he once came back to Finland with me and we had also lived in Thailand. After this, I did my Master’s degree in Utrecht and then went on to do an internship in Brussels. During this time I had been living out of my suitcase, and longed for a stable place to live; somewhere I could forge deeper friendships.

I've been living in Amsterdam for two years now and it has always been pleasant. I'd been restless for so many years. I’d always wanted to travel, always wanted to get away. I feel good here. It's like constant happiness.

What I miss in Amsterdam, is the concept of comfortable silence. This means that you can be with a person without feeling the constant need to say something. In Finland, we do this a lot; you don’t feel obliged to do anything, you see more, you hear more. Amsterdam gives me energy, ideas and the feeling that anything is possible. You are given so many opportunities to improve your life.

I realised I love Amsterdam when I spent my first summer here and was riding my bike through the Vondel park past tourists, mums on their cargo bikes, and people working out. To top it all, I was surrounded by that rich green colour that this city enjoys throughout the summer. Suddenly, I was filled with the joy of living here, surrounded by all these different people. You never have to pretend to be someone you are not in Amsterdam.

When I came to Amsterdam, I realised straight away that I would have to learn Dutch. Knowing the Dutch language opens the door to its people. You develop a completely different perspective. Now I know what's going on in the neighbourhood; I read the papers, I watch AT5. People are very tolerant in Amsterdam, but without the language you can't forge a truly deep friendship with a Hollander.

You have to kill off your ego and that's the first, and the hardest, step. But I'm so happy that I did it and can now speak Dutch.”


475 people in Amsterdam have the Finnish nationality.

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