Find yourself in Lapland

Katja Kurochkina and Mark Dennis


Alumni couple Katja and Mark fell in love in University of Lapland and are now living together in Germany. Since graduating from ULapand they have both made an incredible career in Europe. Their advice for all the students is not to let fear or common sense stop you.

Written in to the Northern Skies

A Russian young woman, Katja Kurochkina and a Canadian Mark Dennis met at the Finnish language course at the University of Lapland in 2005. That encounter changed their lives permanently. Now they are a married couple living in Germany and working in excellent positions. But how did it all happen?

The beginning

Katja studied in St.Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design for her bachelor. She applied to ULapland to exchange in 2003. After her exchange, she was convinced of continuing to take her master’s at ULapland where her application was accepted.

ULapland offered great opportunities to her to study and she carried out an exchange period in Kunsthochschule Linz. An excursion during the exchange studies brought her into contact with Hugo Boss’s representative that led to an opportunity to carry out her internship in the company. She had amazingly versatile background: classical Russian art education enhanced with modern Finnish textile design education, spiced with some international flavor.  

Mark meanwhile had arrived in Rovaniemi in 2005 to complete an International Project Management programme at the Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences. After that, he worked at Finnbarents, a joint office of the Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences and ULapland consulting the professors in their pursuit for cross-border co-operation mainly with Russia. Beside his work he conducted the studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences. In 2010, he completed a master’s degree in international relations.

But let’s not get ahead in the story. After having met Mark during the Finnish lesson, she ran into him again when snowboarding in Ounasvaara. During the winter they went snowboarding regularly and at some point fell in love. 

Entering to working life

Katja’s skills were quickly noticed hence she found a job right away after her internship at Hugo Boss. She was hired to designer to KBC which is the biggest manufacturer in Germany. As a designer, she was focused of Spanish and French markets which included companies like Zara and Mango.

Meanwhile Mark was still in Finland working. They were married in Canada in 2008. The work situation forced them to live the first year of marriage separate. After a one year living separate Mark took the opportunity to work remotely next to Katja in Germany. This did not caused any harm because Mark worked at the project where Germany was a partner. 

One evening in 2011, they decided to look for a change to their lives. Katja had worked at KBC already three years and was looking for more responsibilities. Like a lighting from the sky, next week Katja got two calls from headhunters, who had found her in LinkedIn. Second interview did the charm and before they even noticed, Katja and Mark were moving to Northern Germany where Katja began her job as a leader in graphic team. Today she works at the same company, Gerry, Weber, in a same position.

Mark made his way to the textile industry too: first, he worked at Scandinavian print and design studio. After he finished his work in Finnbarents. Then working with an Italian textile company Miroglio Textile. Now he works in Germany print and plain dyed fabrics for women’s fashion.


Northern lights always on their mind

Katja and Mark are still strongly connected to University of Lapland. Katja keeps close connection to her textile professor Eevi Mattilainen and she calls her, her Finnish mom. Eevi took care of Katja when she first arrived. Besides Eevi, Katja thinks fondly of her previous printing professor Raija and Virpi from the Internationalisation Office. Virpi was the one who encouraged Katja to return to Rovaniemi.

Katja and Mark also made lifelong friends during their stay in Rovaniemi. Land boarders are not a problem when it comes to close connection with other exchange students in their time. They remember their time in Rovaniemi warmly and encourage everyone now to think outside of the box and trying new things to find their future. Because this is what they did and they are now in a position where they were always aiming. Their advice for all the students is not to let fear or common sense stop you.