Maria (38), a woman from Santiago, Chile, fell utterly in love with Lapland. At first, she came to Saariselkä to do a six-month training period at the end of her studies in the catering business, but after 11 years, she is still in town.
During her studies, she also worked as a restaurant manager in Santiago. She has a Chilean degree in tourism and hotel management. It corresponds to a tourism management degree in Finland.
She continued to work in the same field in restaurants and in a safari company in Ivalo and Saariselkä. The living conditions are more than satisfactory. For her, the best aspects here are the nature and the peaceful and secure atmosphere.
– I feel safe and free, which is hard to do these days with everything that goes on in the world. I feel lucky to live in such a place where I can walk to work, see wildlife and nature, and enjoy the silence, singing birds and the wind on my face. All of this instead of traffic and noise, Maria rejoices.
Maria considers herself lucky to work in the north. She loves her job. Every day is a mystery. You never know what the day brings and what kind of people you meet. The working environment is international and inevitably introduces you to different cultures and people.
A small town surrounded by wilderness is an ideal contrast to the hustle and bustle of a large city. She has so many positive experiences to share that it’s hard to put them to words. Maria sees Lapland as her destiny. Everything is a hundred percent different than it was before.
There are differences between the Finnish and Chilean working cultures as well. Maria does a lot of work and her days are long especially during winter. She knows when her work begins, but not necessarily when it ends. The busy season requires flexibility from everyone. Maria has learnt to regard that as a normal necessity. One should work when there’s plenty to be done.