Music teacher from Kyiv settled in Tampere – "Music is my life and culture inspires me"

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the twinning of Tampere and Kyiv. As part of the anniversary, the City of Tampere publishes stories about people from Kyiv living in Tampere on its social media channels and on the website. The second article in the series tells the story of Oleksandra, a music and singing teacher who fled to Tampere to escape the war.
Vanhempi ja lapsi halaavat toisiaan keväisessä puistossa.
Oleksandra and daughter Anhelina love Tampere's nature and friendly people.

This article will be published on 26 May 2024, when Kyiv Day will be celebrated in Tampere for the first time. You can familiarize yourself with the program of Kyiv Day via the link at the end of the article.

Oleksandra, 31, a music and singing teacher from Kyiv, arrived in Tampere two years ago when Russia launched a large-scale war of aggression in Ukraine. She moved to Finland with her seven-year-old daughter Anhelina

Although Oleksandra was unfamiliar with Tampere and Finland, she had stumbled upon the city of Tampere when she was a student.

- During my studies, I rented an apartment on Tampere Street in Kyiv. At that time, I could never have imagined that destiny would bring me here, Oleksandra recalls.

Before moving to Tampere, however, Oleksandra knew a few things about Finland.

- I had heard that Father Frost or Santa Claus lived in Finland and that the Arctic Circle runs through Lapland. I also knew that there was beautiful nature and lakes here, and that Nokia phones come from Finland," she says.

Oleksandra was born in the small town of Lutuhynen in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. As an adult she moved to the country's capital, Kyiv, where she spent more than ten years. Oleksandra fondly remembers the beauty of Kyiv and its rich cultural life.

- Kyiv has a very rich history and is full of beautiful architecture with many cathedrals and monasteries. Kyiv is also the musical capital of the country and has a wide variety of cultural attractions, including museums and theatres. Kyiv's parks and landscapes are also astonishingly beautiful," says Oleksandra.

Oleksandra has settled in well in Tampere and sees many similarities with Kyiv. The water bodies, islands and nature surrounding the city remind her of Kyiv.

- Tampere is divided by the river Tammerkoski, while Kyiv is crossed by the Dnepr, the longest river in Ukraine. There are also similarities between the cities' islands. The Viikinsaari Island is reminiscent of the island of Trukhaniv on the Dnepr. Although Kyiv is a city of millions, it is surrounded by nature and beautiful coniferous forests," she says.

There are also similarities in the spirit of the cities and their inhabitants. 

- Like Tampere, Kyiv is a student city that sees its future in young professionals. And of course, friendly and open people are the most important thing that unites us," Oleksandra adds.

Although Oleksandra has settled in well in Tampere, there have been challenges along the way. She says the first year was difficult because the language barrier made it hard to find a place to live, a job and other paperwork. Oleksandra has been studying Finnish for two years.

- I have been studying Finnish for two years now and the further I get, the harder the language feels. But I try to practice more and luckily Finns are very polite and always keep the conversation going.

- The first sentence I learned in Finnish was "Hauska tutustua" (in English, "Nice to meet you"). I remember thinking that it sounded very melodious to my ears," says Oleksandra.

Vanhempi ja lapsi seisovat leikkipuiston porttien edessä.
Oleksandra and Anhelina have found many hobbies in Tampere.

In Ukraine, Oleksandra worked as a singing teacher at the Grinchenko University in Kyiv. Her passion for music and art led her to study for a PhD, and last year Oleksandra graduated with a doctorate in the art.

Oleksandra has also had the opportunity to work in the cultural field in Finland. She worked for a year and a half at the children's cultural centre Piipoo and performed at various cultural events and concerts. 

- I would like to continue working in the field of music and education in Finland and I am open to working with musicians," says Oleksandra.

Oleksandra got to know the Finnish education system through her daughter's pre-school and her internship at Viiala Primary School. She has followed the Finnish education system and the teaching of music and art with interest.

- The Finnish education system is of a high standard. I was pleasantly surprised by the methodology and pedagogy of the teachers, the individual approach, and the technical equipment in the classrooms," she says.
Music and art are a way of life for Oleksandra and she says she relaxes best by immersing herself in culture.

- Music is my life and in Tampere I relax and get inspired by music and art. Performing in concerts is a way for me to share my creativity to the audience. I am especially happy to be able to work with music in Finland. I would like to thank my Finnish colleagues who perform with me and support me.

Oleksandra is delighted that Tampere is celebrating twin cities' 70th anniversary. 

- I would like to say a big thank you for the support of Ukraine and Ukrainians. I wish peace everywhere and that the friendship between Tampere and Kyiv will be long-lasting and fruitful.

Tampere supports Kyiv in the twin cities' 70th anniversary

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the twinning of Tampere and Kyiv. The cities will celebrate the cooperation, which started in 1954, with a variety of activities in both Tampere and Kyiv.
On the anniversary’s website, you can find out about the events of the anniversary and ways to help Ukrainians and Kyivans. You will also find related news and a summary of how Tampere has supported Ukraine in the midst of the war.

Text: Johanna Sokka
Photos: Johanna Sokka
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