- The first time Magdalen Ogbomon heard about Finland was when Lordi won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006. Eventually, Finland and peaceful Uusikaupunki became her permanent home.
“I am completely Finnish nowadays! I like sweet buns, salmon and a beer in the sauna!” Magdalen Ogbomon exclaims and laughs cheerfully.
This summer marks the 11th anniversary of Nigerian Magdalen’s first arrival in Finland. She left behind years of hardship, escaping from her childhood family and an abusive relationship in her home country. Her friends persuaded her to come to Europe to spread her wings.
“In my home country, I worked as a hair stylist, and my friends told me to come here to work in the same profession, and that it would surely work out for me. However, when I arrived here, the truth was somewhat different,” she says.
The first thing she noticed about Finland was how green everything was. When Magdalen saw from the window of an airplane the wonderful green landscape at Midsummer, her first thought was to stay here.
Soon she found employment as a cleaner at the Sinebrychoff factory in Kerava. The job kept her in the capital region for over five years, until Uusikaupunki called her. Literally.
“I’m sure this sounds a bit funny, but I heard a strong voice in my head that told me to move to Uusikaupunki.
I thought long and hard on whether it was sensible to leave a permanent job and home behind, but the voice wouldn’t leave me alone. It felt like a calling of some sort,” she says.
Magdalen trusted her intuition, packed her belongings in boxes and moved temporarily to a modular village near Valmet Automotive. She found a job in the factory’s paint shop.
“There was something pretty great to be a part of making such magnificent cars. Even now when I see a Mercedes on the road, I wonder if the car includes parts I have painted.”
In addition to working, Magdalen was coming up with ideas for her own business. She established Ariöba Oy, a company that makes and imports wines, also juices for children. She also has ideas for cosmetics.
“A person’s overall well-being is important to me, and that’s something I want to influence with my company’s products. I choose the grapes for the wines and juices myself. The same goes for the raw materials for the cosmetics. I want the products to be nurturing from the inside and outside,” Magdalen says.
Three years later, she became a full-time entrepreneur. She would like to thank the personnel at Ukipolis in particular.
“Without their help, I would not have been able to make my business operational. I felt that I had pretty good experience of Finnish working life and that it was the right time to start my own company. It feels good that I can put all my efforts into developing things that are important to me and that entrepreneurship is a real option here,” she says.
After living in Uusikaupunki for four years, Magdalen Ogbomon feels at home. The peaceful and safe lifestyle suits her well.
“My life has been very colourful and full of different experiences. While not everything has been just good, I am grateful for my experiences. Now I can appreciate my life here,” she says.
She feels that her new hometown is a place where she can finally be herself.
“Here are a lot of people with different backgrounds. It’s like the Finnish New York!” she exclaims and laughs. “Above all, you can really be yourself here. You don’t have to worry about what others think or expect of me. I can just be. I’m happy that I’ve found such a good home,” says Magdalen Ogbomon and smiles.