Life in Danville, Virginia

All of us trainees have the opportunity to go on a 3-month International Assignment. The purpose of this assignment is to see the company from a different aspect, and preferably from a very different view that we have been used in our regular work.

This is where the magic happens!

We have been located pretty much all around the world for those three months – China, South-America, North-America as well as variety of European countries. This year Varkaus, Finland was a surprisingly popular place, as three trainees spent their International Assignment there (AND all of them were non-Finnish luckily!). I got the opportunity to spend my International Assignment in USA, Virginia at our pilot plant in Biomaterials division. This plant was acquired by Stora Enso a couple of years back, and the Company was called Virdia Inc. There is a little place called Danville in southern Virginia, really close to North-Carolina border. It is an interesting place – both in terms of operations as well as living. I have been here now for about 1,5 months and still same amount to go. I have had my share already of the American culture, but I’m sure there are still plenty of cultural differences to discover. At least I am expecting some exciting times ahead in November when it is time for the presidential election and Thanksgiving weekend soon after that. Danville as a place is pretty small, only around 43 000 people live here, so in terms of people it is a little bit smaller than for example the city of Kotka where our Sunila pulp mill is located. For me the culture here in Virginia appears to be something I expected to be quite typical southern state -American in terms of commuting and eating – large pick-up trucks and fast food. The saying everything is bigger in America certainly seems to be true at least here, even though the size of the place itself might be small. On the other hand Danville has also surprised me positively a lot: right where I live there is an excellent hot yoga studio, and right by the pilot plant there are also some mountain bike trails. On top of that I have been able to do some hiking on the Appalachian Mountains that run across the state of Virginia starting up from Pennsylvania and ending all the way down south to Alabama. Thus, exercising has been possible even though private cars seem to be the most used way of transportation here.

Laura Suikkanen

Biochemicals Sales Assistant, Innovation Center, Stockholm (Biomaterials)

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