In our blog series “Making Lapland My Home” we share stories from people who have found their homes in Lapland.
Making Lapland My Home
Finland’s education system is regarded as one of the best in the world and thus it is no wonder that foreign students are willing to obtain their degree education in the country. However, according to Yle News article, graduating foreigners encounter obstacles when trying to land a job in Finland. Integration into the Finnish job market is a challenging and slow journey. However, where capable foreign workforce with good language skills and excellent customer service abilities is especially needed is in Lapland. Lapland is Finland’s and the entire EU’s northernmost international region. In addition to being a vibrant and international region, Lapland may just have that special charm that managed to entice one specific big city guy to stay.
From the Tropics to the Snow- Arctic circle
From the busy streets of Vietnam to the quietness and solidarity of Lapland. That’s quite a change. A change that was made by Minh, 25, when he decided to move to Finland. “In Lapland, everything is completely opposite from where I am from”, tells Minh as he describes his former home, the city of Ha Noi. “It’s a really busy city with lots of people, and the lifestyle is quite fast-paced. Moreover, we don’t have snow in Ha Noi!” Minh, who originally moved to Lapland to obtain a degree in hospitality management, would dream about snow as a kid. However, for Minh, snow actually wasn’t eventually the most impressive single thing in Lapland, but rather the whole surrounding nature. In Lapland he gets to witness the changes of nature through all eight different seasons (yes, there are eight seasons in Lapland), not just motorbikes and cars like in Ha Noi.
“In Lapland, everything is completely opposite from where I am from”
Minh currently lives and works in the capital of Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi. In addition to his daily job as a receptionist in a local hotel, Minh is a freelance content creator. His content focuses on travel. “My work is mostly created for the need of travel companies and travel pages on social media, and so far, I have been enjoying doing it!”, Minh shares. His second job usually takes him frequently on travels and especially now during the time of less time abroad, he has been able to travel in Finland and get to know more about his second home. Since moving to Lapland, Minh has truly found his passion for photography and travel. The beautiful Arctic nature is definitely something worth capturing. The magic of Lapland is different for everyone and maybe this is it for Minh: “I could never imagine that one day my passion is gradually becoming my source of living!”.
Lapland- Too silent at first
When getting to know a new culture, it is common to encounter cultural shocks. Although Minh has always enjoyed silence and solidarity, at first the silence of Lapland seemed quite overwhelming. His solution? “I used to actually slam the door loudly or dance in my own room, just to make some noise”, Minh reveals. Another factor which Lapland is known for is the cold. Minh confirms that the cold was definitely not easy to handle at first. He had never experienced the -20°C temperature in his life, so experiencing that for the first time was both exciting and quite terrifying. Despite the cultural (and geographical) differences Minh has encountered, he feels that he has adjusted quite well to the life in Lapland. Today, Minh has a very Finnish attitude towards the cold: “About the cold, well, as Elsa from Frozen sang it: ‘The cold never bothers me anyway’ “.
“I realised that every time I saw Auroras, ruska (fall foliage), the raw nature and reindeer on the highway, I felt like I am home”
My Life in Lapland
However, Lapland has not been Minh’s only home in Finland. “To be honest, I did move to Helsinki for three months, since there are more opportunities to get a job there actually”, he reveals. However, three months in the country’s capital was enough. He feels like he did not fit in quite well with the life in Helsinki. Every time he felt too overwhelmed in the city, he booked a trip back to Lapland. Eventually he realised how much he loved the Arctic region and moved back North. “I realised that every time I saw Auroras, ruska (fall foliage), the raw nature and reindeer on the highway, I felt like I am home”, Minh reflects.
Minh’s experiences emphasize the importance and closeness of nature. Lapland is a place where delicate nature is closer than perhaps in many other places. In addition to snow, Lapland’s most beautiful natural phenomenon is certainly the Northern Lights. Northern Lights is a specialty phenomenon of the Arctic region and a big attraction for many tourists. Minh also eagerly hunts Northern Lights with his camera. “I did not know about Northern Lights before moving here, and when I found out about it, I felt that I had chosen the right place for me to be!” Minh has found a connection to Lapland through nature, but how does he feel about connecting with the local people?
‘Lappish boy at heart’
In his work as a receptionist, Minh gets to meet travellers from all over the world and English is often the common language of business in the usually busy tourist destination. However, Minh mentions that proficiency in the Finnish language is also very helpful in the customer service profession in Lapland. Even though Finnish is considered to be one of the most difficult languages to learn, Minh actually mentions the language as one of the best aspects about working and living in Lapland. He admits that although communication in Finnish is still sometimes challenging, he has grown closer to the local community as a result of learning the language. Not only has learning a new language made his everyday life easier, but it is also a merit of hard work in itself. “It feels quite cool to be tri-lingual now!” Minh rejoices.
For many, Lapland appears only as a beautiful winter wonderland, but according to Minh, actually moving to Lapland takes a lot of consideration. “You’d need to be a person who truly loves the nature and the silence. Moreover, you wouldn’t mind getting lost in the forest every now and then and enjoying that”, Minh explains. For someone moving from abroad, you’d also need to adjust to the idea of being far away from home and missing your family. “My family, relatives and close friends are all living in Vietnam so sometimes I do miss them a lot”, Minh tells and continues: “And well, Vietnamese food for sure, that I’ve been craving for!”. Although Minh is originally a resident of a very large city, he has found his new home in Lapland: “I can proudly say that I am a Lappish boy at heart!”
Minh on Instagram
Read the previous part of our series “Making Lapland My Home” HERE.