Lavinia Roman studied her Master’s degree in International Business in Vaasa. Now she works for the United Nations in Haiti.
When it comes to being a globe-trotter, Lavinia seems to be second to no one. She hails from Mexico and back in 2004 she had a job there in the automotive sector, until the economic crisis left her company in tatters. She didn't lose time crying over spilled milk and quickly looked around for a fresh start. That's when Finland came into play.
"Finland started to have a lot of exposure in Mexico: its growing economy, the level of education and the quality of life. Unexpectedly, I was really attracted to this country", she says. Then a certain university grabbed her attention. "I discovered the University of Vaasa and read about the International Master programs for foreigners. I was fascinated by the International Business program."
But moving from Mexico to Finland is quite a leap. Anyway, Lavinia was not put off by the challenges. "The following three months passed so fast with quitting my job, emptying my house and moving to Vaasa that I barely felt nervous", she recalls. "It seemed an adventure into a far, far away country which was worth to live. What really helped me was that the university was in touch with me by e-mail." Let's not forget, there are the mighty international tutors of the University. "I met a wonderful girl that helped me and taught me all the necessary things. I baptized her Tinker Bell as she gave me a lot of support from the first days until my last days in Finland."
But not all that glitters is gold. "Recalling the past I really think that the most challenging issue was the language (and of course the silence on the streets). Imagine: me, a Latin born in the pacific area of Mexico where temperature reaches 36 degrees and coming from a big metropolis." Anyway, soon Lavinia found out about the little gems of Vaasa. Living in Tekla II helped a lot in not missing to a silent place and never feel alone." Ah Tekla, Vaasa wouldn't be the same without you!
However the list of treats is still long: "During the years I got used to the darkness, to the Royal nights on Wednesdays, to Lapin Kulta. And again, the snow, the salmon soup and jumping into the almost frozen sea after sauna were the best things of Finland; including the good friends I met. All good things however do come to an end. After finishing master's I went back to Mexico and found a job in a growing telecommunications business in an emerging market", tells Lavinia. It turns out that the international studies at the University of Vaasa paid off. "I was really excited as many of the studies I had in Finland were related to my new job."
In spite of the perfect match, Lavinia's feet started itching again before long. "For one year that work was good, however I wanted to have the opportunity to work using a different language and wanted to come back to Engineering projects, the field of my master thesis." The chance to sail off came from nothing less than the UN. "I got the opportunity to come to Haiti for 5 months to work in an Engineering Section to work managing the power supply contracts of the United Nation Mission of Stabilization in Haiti."
"I came for five months and I have been here now 20 months, why? Because all my life in Haiti has been a challenge that, with reward or not, made me grow as a human being and professional: living in a country with no electricity, no potable water; an earthquake and a devastated city after January 2010; a professional life full of up and downs due to the lack of planning, a lack of knowledge transfer to the locals, difficulties to deal with local vendors and so on."
Now, that sounds like something very familiar and very Finnish to me, and I am sure all fellow Finns had a similar gut feeling. It's called Sisu and seemingly Lavinia is brimming with it. As a matter of fact, that's what she says: "the best knowledge I acquired from my staying in Finland is that a good project, whatever it be, is not going to succeed easily. Many efforts and a lot of patience is required to achieve a good result; it doesn't matter if it happens at -20 ºC or at 38 ºC."
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