Riina Liutu – My home town Lappeenranta

Good family life in Finnish and in English

Riina Liutu and her husband Richardson “Richie” Maurissaint live the life of an international family in Lappeenranta with their three daughters Kailey, Elsa and Alissa. Work, school and leisure time run smoothly. 

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Riina Liutu is a Lappeenranta native and Richie Maurissaint moved to Lappeenranta 14 years ago from Boston, USA.

“I started my studies in mechanical engineering at the University of Applied Sciences and I felt at home in Lappeenranta. I have met a lot of people from Lappeenranta, and they are calm and pleasant people,” Richie says.

Everyday bilingual life runs smoothly

Riina and Richie thought long and hard about where to settle down before deciding to stay in Lappeenranta. According to Riina, they couldn’t be happier with their decision.

“The day care centres here are of very high quality. They have lovely staff, small groups and a warm atmosphere.”

At home, Riina speaks Finnish to the children and Richie speaks English – although sometimes there’s a bit of Finglish involved. Because the family is bilingual, it is important for the parents that the children also hear English outside the home.

“Now the girls go to the English-language classes at Kesämäki School, where they also receive tuition in Finnish. A big plus is that it is also possible to attend upper secondary school in English,” Riina adds.

Riina and Richie also know other international families with whom the children speak English, and through the internet they can chat and play with people from outside Lappeenranta.

Balancing work and leisure time is easy

Although Richie thinks that Finns speak surprisingly good English, he is glad that he started studying Finnish as soon as he moved to Finland. He now works as a technical product manager at the Lappeenranta-based company Flowrox.

“There is a big difference in the Finnish working culture compared to the US, where the working days are longer. When I told my sister that we have a four-week summer holiday in Finland and a winter holiday on top of that, she wondered how it was possible! I like the fact that it is actually possible to balance work and leisure.”

Riina, who works in customer service at a bank, says that everyday family life is hectic right now.

“Whenever we have free time, we try to do things as a family and be active. In winter, we ski, skate and go to the swimming hall, and in summer, we swim at the city beach and go cycling.”

In summer, the family also travels a lot.

Plenty of activities for children and adults

Riina is especially pleased with the wide range of activities for children and adults in Lappeenranta.

“The children have tried everything from dancing to art school and swimming. At the moment, the girls are playing basketball and doing gymnastics. I myself actively go to the gym with Richie, who also plays football in a local team.”

Of the children, Kailey is particularly fond of gymnastics.

“It’s the best hobby because you do all sorts of feats and sometimes we have competitions.”

According to Richie, hobbies are an essential part of life and important for developing social skills, especially for children.

“Hobbies have also helped me get to know different people, both foreigners and people from Lappeenranta.”

A city that is safe and close to nature

Richie commutes easily by bus, as the bus stop is close to both home and work. Riina, on the other hand, cycles to work regardless of the weather and the season.

“The children can walk and cycle to school, as Lappeenranta is such a peaceful and safe city. And all services are within walking distance.”

Richie has noticed that Lappeenranta is a city that is very close to nature.

“Sometimes it feels like living in the middle of nature instead of living in a city. Finns are very close to nature.”

The family members each have their own favourite places in the city. Of the daughters, Alissa prefers home.

“Here I can play board games, watch movies together and play with my sisters.”

Riina loves Lappeenranta especially as a summer city.

“This is a lovely place regardless of the season but, in summer, the city centre, the fortress and the harbour are my favourites.”

Richie agrees with Alissa that his favourite place is home, but he thinks that, for example, the fortress is also an interesting place.

Both Richie and Riina agree that the people of Lappeenranta are relaxed and open. In fact, Richie says that, although people say that Finns are closed-minded, this is not true. But he also thinks that it is great to have time for yourself.

“In big cities, you may never have peace and quiet, but in Lappeenranta you may.”



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