”For many, Lapland is a place for their holidays and picture-perfect winter days. For me, Lapland is home”
I have lived in Lapland my whole life. I am Iida-Aletta Pirttilä and I’m an 18-year-old student from Naruska, Salla. You might have heard of Naruska in weather forecasts due to it being famous for its record breaking cold weather.
Growing up in Lapland
At the moment I’m finishing my third and last year in Finnish upper secondary school. Besides my studies, I work with reindeer and my job as a ski instructor in Salla ski resort keeps me busy. Lapland might not always be where I live but it will still always be home for me.
For many, Lapland is a place for their holidays and picture-perfect winter days. For me, Lapland is home.
Being a student in Lapland
My studies in Finnish upper secondary school are pretty much the same as everywhere else in Finland. That is why I chose Lukio of Salla because even if it is a very small school, the quality of teaching is good and my diploma will be equal to those received in any other school in Finland. I also don’t mind that the school only has about 60 students. Another reason why I chose my school is how close it is. It’s only 50 km away which in Lapland is close.
I wouldn’t have been ready to move out when I was only 16. Unfortunately for many teenagers that is the necessary path they have to take to achieve their dreams. After my graduation this summer I will have to move away from Salla too. The nearest university is in Rovaniemi which is almost 200 km away from my home but I figured that if I have to move far away anyways it doesn’t matter how far. That is why I also applied to some universities abroad.
Work as a ski instructor
After years of skiing and watching the everyday life of ski instructors I finally got the opportunity to do it myself. I started skiing when I was 5 years old and years of experience in race skiing got me where I am now. I turned 18 last year and applied for a ski instructing course and soon after that I got my job at Salla ski resort. I have enjoyed working as a ski instructor a lot. Meeting new people, having amazing workmates and enjoying the nature of Lapland are just a few amazing things to mention. I have also been able to combine my work with my studies without one taking too much time from the other. Overall most of the time none of it feels like work for me and I hope to be able to do it further in my life as well.
For as long as I can remember reindeer herding has been part of my life. I own reindeer myself as well as everyone in my family. Living on a reindeer farm has its ups and downs but for the most part it’s good. Herding reindeer might sound easy as they are half wild animals and only require taking care of half of the year but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Reindeer herding is much more than just feeding them in winter time. In summer there’s reindeer markings and making hay. In autumn reindeer round ups and all the work that goes in before and after that. All this work is done in conditions that are rarely optimal. Reindeer herding can also be really different depending on which area of Lapland you live in. Everyone has their own challenges and goals and that’s why there’s as many ways to herd reindeer as there are reindeer herders. Overall, reindeer herding is more than just a profession. It’s a lifestyle. I am lucky to have grown up in this community and way of life as it will always be a part of me in one way or another.
Photography is a fairly new hobby for me. About a year ago one successful picture sparked my interest in it and ever since I have spent hours and hours trying to improve. Lapland is the perfect place to start a hobby like this as there’s thousands of good shots just waiting for you to take them. I have always enjoyed art and photography is the perfect art form for me. Currently I’m only shooting with my mobile phone and with it I want to prove to people how easy it is to start taking good photos. Photography doesn’t need to be expensive or hard to get into. I am still hesitant to call myself a photographer as I’m only a beginner but I still thrive to better myself and my work.
I hope my photos can do justice to the amazing nature surrounding us here in Lapland but sometimes it’s impossible to capture it. That’s why I think everyone should experience it firsthand at least once in their lives.
Finally I’d like to thank Visit Lapland for this amazing opportunity. I hope that in this blog post and in my instagram takeover I will be able to portray life in Lapland as well as possible. So far it has been a pleasure to get to share my life with you. You can follow my takeover on VisitLapland instagram page and you can also follow my instagram iidaaletta if you’d like to continue following my life.
Story & images By Iida-Aletta Pirttilä