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Jade Ventoniemi sees her future in Lahti

The social media influencer enjoys being able to get around the city centre quickly on her bike.

Ice swimming, cycling through the city, enjoying a Christmas pastry or cabbage roll, skiing on Salpausselkä! How many Finns realise how impressive these experiences can be?

American-born Jade Ventoniemi shares amazing and wonderful experiences with more than 32,000 followers on her Instagram account jaja.ciao. Several of the posts feature Lahti, where she moved four years ago.

We met with Jade at Kahvila Kariranta by the harbour, where she has tasted and shot cinnamon rolls and several other delicacies. And yes, she still gets excited about new experiences, like walking on the ice of lake Vesijärvi on a grey winter day.

Love the main reason for moving

For Jade, the main reason for moving to Finland was meeting and falling in love with Henri Ventoniemi while studying in college in Florida. After discussing their future, the couple decided five years ago to move to Finland, where Henri plays as a professional basketballer.

The move was a big change, as Jade is from Atlanta, where the average day temperature in the summer is over 30 degrees Celsius. 5.8 million people live in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

– Fortunately, I had visited Finland several times with Henkka before moving here. Of course, it was hard to leave my family in the US behind, but my mom is happy for me. She has also visited Finland and experienced each of the four seasons.

Still, the first year in Finland was difficult for the couple as they first moved to Uusikaupunki, a town where they didn’t know anyone beforehand. After a year, Lahti felt much more inviting to Jade right away, but the pandemic hit just as the couple was getting to know the city and its people. Fortunately, Henri’s parents, who lived nearby in Hyvinkää, were very supportive.

Jade started getting to know Finland and Finns more as society opened up again. At first, she got a job teaching English in an online course at an adult education centre. Through her studies at LAB university of applied sciences, she got an internship in marketing. Jade also worked in international marketing at Kempower, after which she started her own business assisting companies with content marketing in the autumn of 2023.

– I didn’t have time to pursue a career in the United States after graduating, so I’ve tried by hand at all kinds of jobs in Finland, at first only in English. My Finnish is pretty decent, but I’m not fluent enough yet to work entirely in Finnish.

A short walk away from the forest

Jade speaks Finnish in cafés, shops, with coworkers and friends from sports, as well as when instructing a spin class a few times a week at a Lahti gym. On social media, Jade speaks mostly in English, but also describes aspects of her life and cultural differences in Finnish.

In a hilarious way, she demonstrates how a Finnish person can go through an entire phone call with just a few “moi”’s and “joo”’s.

All this could be done in many other places, so why did Jade and Henry end up choosing Lahti?

– We love our current neighbourhood in Jalkaranta, which is a short distance to the beach and forest. I can get anywhere in the city centre quickly by bike, and there are also great restaurants and cafés here. I’ve made friends through my sports and fitness hobbies. Although I’m open to moving and living anywhere, right now I see the future of our family and potential children here in Lahti.


Text: Ina Ruokolainen

Photos: Lassi Häkkinen

Full story published in the Kaupunkilainen magazine number 1/24.