Find yourself in Lapland
Marcelo, Arctic Art and Design MA student in the University of Lapland

Marcelo Souza de Araujo, Brazil


Marcelo found freedom, peace and a wife during his exchange at the University of Lapland and decided to come back to continue his studies in Arctic Art and Design Master´s degree programme. Now he creates amazing visuals with camera and video.

Tell us something about yourself:

Originally I come from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Back in 2012 I was studying design and decided to develop my skills in a different country through exchange. Luckily I chose the University of Lapland, because my life changed quite a bit after that. Rovaniemi was my first choice because of its unique location and programs, something that I would not experience anywhere else in the world. I’ve had incredible opportunities, swimming in a frozen lake, sauna, snow sculptures and I have actually met my wife during my year here. After a few years me and Denisa decided to come back to continue our studies in Lapland. We’ve missed the peaceful atmosphere, the friendly people and the amazing education.

Did you face any challenges?

The first time I came here was in 2012, I was 20 years old and didn’t have any worries. I remember being the last person wearing a winter jacket and walking around in sneakers during -20 degrees, not very smart. But everything was great. Now I feel like I am way more prepared for the challenges of cold and darkness. I’ve bought Vitamin D which is helpful for the days without the sun and already have good boots to walk around. The biggest challenge I think people face when coming here is the dark winter, because you get a bit lazy, so the best is to focus on doing some sport activity, going to the gym or indoors football will help you.

Have you developed any skills while studying in here?

I believe so. During my exchange here I was a bit more free in terms of classes so I took anything that interested me. That resulted in producing my first documentary, something that I have been doing for a few years now. I also got the chance to participate in many public events in the city of Rovaniemi, from lantern design to snow sculpture and I was even part of the northernmost fashion week in Europe as a model. Everything was definitely worth it.

Does Lapland feel like home?

Yes, I live with my wife and we brought our small dog with us, it is definitely our home. Me and Denisa have travelled and lived in different place these past years - from South America to Western Europe. At the same time we were always missing the cozy, calm and beautiful Finland.

How do you spend your free time?

I enjoy doing photography during my spare time. I am fascinated by the weather here in Lapland, everything changes so fast and drastically. I find myself waking up early to catch the last summer day before Autumn hits, and then staying up late to photograph the unbelievable Northern Lights. The nature here is very unique for me as a brazilian, so everyday there is something new to shoot or a new story to tell. 

Any tips for the future students who would like to apply to study at ULapland?

Prepare for the cold beforehand, especially if you have never seen snow before, like me. The best way to really enjoy the uniqueness of the place is to have clothes for it, comfortable ones. During my exchange year I was falling in the snow with jeans and although it looks cool, it’s way comfier to use proper skiing pants. It’s ok to dress with huge boots and millions layers of clothes, everyone here does it and it is the best way to enjoy the weather.

How is it to study here?

Studying in Lapland is completely different from my previous studies. I believe that here I have way more freedom than in Brazil. In Finland a student has more options and can achieve high levels as long as he is committed. The university always offers different classes and workshops for students to attend. During November I attented the Relate to North -symposium here in the University of Lapland. It was a great opportunity to attend lectures and meet people from different Northern universities in the world.

Did you make any friends here?

I definitely did, not only friends but as I said it before, I’ve met my wife doing Erasmus in Rovaniemi. I am from Brazil and she is from Slovakia so we have very different backgrounds. It was definitely special to meet her from all the places, here in Lapland. We are still in contact with a lot of other exchange students from our first time here: there is a reunion somewhere in Europe every year.

Was there something unexpected that happened to you while studying here?

I remember one of the most magical moments I experienced was during my first days in here. I was biking back home to Kuntotie and suddenly I saw them, reindeers. Just walking pass by my house. I come from a big city so I haven’t experienced such a big animal walking around without any problems and so close. At that moment I felt that I have chosen the right place to come, it made the whole trip worth it. Since then I have seen reindeers again many many times, and I still feel the same way.

Would you recommend people to come here?

Yes, and I believe that a lot of people are still afraid of the sometimes extreme conditions, but I need to say, don’t be. With the cold and the dark other beautiful things come to Lapland as well, especially the northern lights. They are something magical that can only be experienced in the North.

Did you experience any funny moments in Lapland?

Since I am from Rio de Janeiro, I’m not really used to riding a bike everywhere. Here in Lapland, bike is the main way of transportation, at least for students. When I arrived here I decided to buy a bike right away and unfortunately I bought the worst bike possible. It was an old racers bike, with really thin tires, horrible for the winter in the snow. I have fallen so many times with it. Once I was breaking and the break just fell of my hand – and of course I fell again. In the end, maybe the best thing you should buy here is a bike, big tires and good gear - and yeah, check the breaks.

Check out Marcelo´s story of Lapland!