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People from many different countries live, study and work in Eindhoven. Every week, Innovation Origins has a talk with an international about what brought them here and what life is like in Eindhoven.

Name: Katja Lumme
Country of origin: Finland
Work: Commis chef at Cucina Italiana

On a Monday afternoon, we take a seat at a table in Vershal Het Veem, the indoor food court and market at Strijp S. Katja chose the location. “I work here in the Vershal at Cucina Italiana. I work in the kitchen, but also  help with the event planning and I lend my expertise in the field of design when possible.” Cucina Italiana is well known to us. Last year owner Ailén also took part in this series. ““I have a Bachelor of Culture and Arts, but I have always loved food. Working here feels like a very good career move. During upcoming Dutch Design Week, we will host special dinners where our chef will partner up with Italian tape artist No Curves.  They will both create colourful geometrical edible and non-edible shapes.  I think it is a very exciting combination.”

Katja is married to a Dutchman. “We met each other online. Not on a dating website, but while playing the game World of Warcraft. We were both studying at that time, so we had a long distance relationship for three years. Of course, we saw each other as much as possible. I would work very hard on study assignments so I could hand them in early so I could have a longer holiday break with my boyfriend. And when I had to do an internship I did it here in the Netherlands at a design studio. In Finland, you do an internship in your own time, not during a study semester. So I was here for a whole summer. My boyfriend graduated a year before me and decided to come and live in Finland. He found a job and for one and a half year we lived together. He worked as a translator at a news company. In the late summer of 2011, we moved to the Netherlands because he was needed here at the company of his family. Last year we got married.”

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“Moving to a different country has its challenges. My husband had experienced how difficult it can be to get to know a new country , during his time in Finland. He understood very well that sometimes the little things in daily life, like sending a package, can come with some hurdles. That can happen with the language, but sometimes things just are different then you are used to. At first, we lived in the village of Son en Breugel. Back then the housing market wasn’t that great already. I joined the International Women’s Club to have a good start socially. It is important for me to have my own friends, in addition to my husband’s friends. At the end of 2012 we moved to a nice apartment in the city centre of Eindhoven. I really love living there. Everything is close by, we bike everywhere and if we need to go further away, we use public transportation. We don’t need a car.”

“Eindhoven changed in the last couple of years. In the city centre, you see an increase of specialty stores like Jokkmokk with its cheeses and Broodt for bread. I like to buy locally at small businesses where I can have a chat with the owners. I love to go to the organic market on Saturday at the Wilhelminaplein. Recently we went to Philips Fruittuin (an orchard) to pick apples and pears. It is such a wonderful place. I’m not a fan of all the international fast food corporations coming to Eindhoven. Unfortunately, that is also the result of the growth of the city. Another effect is scarcity on the housing market. It’s crazy! We are happy where we are right now, but if we would like to move, I don’t know if we are able to stay in Eindhoven.”

Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel
Read more stories of internationals here.