Episode 48

How I Married My Finnish Penpal: Matt Bowen's Story

Please join us in welcoming Matt, our new co host at Mastering Finland! Matt moved to Finland for love in 2016. He packed up his life in Maryland, and married his penpal of 10 years! Today, Matt lives happily in Pori with his wife, Sanni, and their son, Edvin.

In his debut episode, Matt shared about his experience living in Finland for five years. Specifically, Matt talked about feeling overwhelmed by the US work culture, which leaves little room for personal and family time. In Finland, he said, people prioritize health and wellness. This work-life balance makes his remote job even more enjoyable!

While he was preparing for his move to Finland five years ago, Matt began a Facebook blog called, “My Life in Finland.” He expected to have plenty of free time, and he was excited about sharing experiences from his newly married life in Finland with the world.

However, the young couple faced immense challenges before he even made it to Pori. His wife was diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome, an inherited condition that increases a person’s risk of cancer. People with Lynch Syndrome need to be monitored closely throughout their lives.

“When I was packing up and getting ready to move, my wife got sick,” he said. “she ended up having emergency surgery, and they found a tumor. It turned out that she had gotten cancer.”

Upon arriving in Finland, Matt was occupied with caring for his wife and processing her diagnosis. When he finally got around to sharing his experiences on his Facebook blog, Matt found that the most rewarding part of running the page was in the support he was able to offer others. 

“It’s sort of evolved even more,” he said. “I keep getting messages from people who are interested in coming to Finland… I like being able to help these people.”

One way in which Matt hopes to help connect people living in Finland is through his love of music. He sings and plays guitar, among other instruments, and he has even had opportunities to play live community events in Finland.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Matt has taken his music outreach online, where he runs a YouTube channel called “Everyday Musician.” Here, he hopes to encourage and motivate music learners.

“Music to me is a universal language,” he said. “I think it’s great that you can connect through music even if you don’t understand the words.”

Tune into episode this to hear Matt’s story, and to get a sneak peak at what to expect from his upcoming episodes. Be sure to check out our links below where you can find Matt’s online presence. You will also find a link to the non-profit friendship organization Matt recommends for anyone looking to participate in cultural exchange in Finland.


SAM Foundation

Matt's Blog

My Life in Finland YouTube

Everyday Musician