In a world where individuals seek to experience new beginnings, Naida Valencia’s story motivates the power of stepping out of one’s comfort zone and welcoming the unknown. Originally moving from Seattle, Washington, Naida’s journey led her to Oulu, Finland, where she found a new sense of belonging.
From the acting division at UCLA to the restaurant industry and finally to the role as a Marketing Manager. Naida Valencia’s story beautifully illustrates that a career journey need not follow a linear path.
Instead, it’s a collection of experiences that develops our skill set, broadens our perspective, and reminds us that success thrives in our passions.
Naida’s connection with Oulu was not just coincidental; it was a result of her persistent pursuit of opportunities. With a strong background in the film industry and creativity, she found herself working for the film production company in Oulu known as “Whatevergroup” as a Marketing Manager. This opportunity didn’t just provide her with a new job; it became the reason for a new beginning.
Can you describe your first impressions about Oulu?
“Never been in a place that needed so little attention, the people and the culture are really fascinating to me because they refuse the spotlight. I have never seen someone refuse the spotlight and I don’t know if it’s because I am in the film industry but I love the idea of being able to capture people’s stories. When I connect with someone, I really like to know who they are. The type of human seductiveness needed to get a Finn to open up, if it’s not alcohol then it takes quite a lot of brain work because it takes them time. But once they do, it is absolutely precious.”
Having spent a year in Oulu, Naida reflects on the series of events that led her here. Struggling to find her place and sense of comfort in the United States and facing obstacles in Germany due to Covid, Naida’s path ultimately guided her to Finland. It was here that she discovered a new world, both culturally and professionally.
Is there anything surprising about living in Oulu?
“I think very few times in life you stop and say ‘I’m learning’, other than at school. I am now in the observation room: I notice Oulu is teaching me and I didn’t expect that.”
Other than working, Naida enjoys dancing, music, and spending time connecting with others. She spends her free time by socializing, having drinks, and trying different types of food and wine. Dancing and music are also big passions for her. She’s still getting used to her new surroundings, taking time to observe, and learning about the Oulu culture.
Naida’s story teaches us that true growth often arises from stepping into the unknown, that a place as seemingly opposite as Oulu can hold a special opportunity, and that every corner of the world has the potential to become a canvas for new experiences and connections.
Do you have any tips for someone who has been thinking about moving and working in Oulu?
“Delve into the Oulu world, I did a lot of research before I came here. I looked at pictures and got into the mood of Oulu before I came. There is no way you know exactly what it is before you come but pretend it is a vacation. Look up what’s cool to do there, look up what are some of the festivals they have, what kind of music they listen to. Get yourself into the cultural mindset of the world you’re going to and give it a shot!”
Text: Nada Abass