Real life in the Canary Islands


At 52 Finn Päivi Joensuu felt that it was the right moment for a professional change and headed to Spain. Find out why Päivi feels she has found her niche, and plans to stay in Gran Canaria indefinitely… Päivi Joensuu, 52, from Finland is currently head chef in a restaurant in Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria, where she has been working since the middle of September this year. It was originally her interest in new cultures and meeting different people which attracted her to living abroad: “What I love about working abroad is the range of people that you meet, with whom in your daily life in your own country you would never have crossed paths.”

When she was younger Päivi worked in Canada, Australia and Israel, practicing her trade as a welder, which was her profession before becoming a waitress. So after years in Finland what motivated her to move to Spain? “I have a very strong professional reputation in Finland so I know that whenever I want to return I will be able to find work. The time felt right: my children have left home and are independent, my skills are transferable and in Turku I do not get the chance to use my language skills. I decided it was now or never!”

When she first looked to move abroad Päivi got in touch with EURES Finland and together she and her EURES Adviser Tomi Puranen looked for suitable jobs. “Tomi was a great help to me; I wasn’t sure where to start looking for a job abroad and he gave me a lot of help. I think what really helped me to trust him was the fact I knew the jobs we were looking at were serious offers. It’s important – I found it easy to relate to him and he understood my needs. EURES is there to help people of all ages find work abroad; it’s not just for the young.”

From Turku, Finland Päivi moved to the holiday resort of PortAventura near Tarragona in Spain, where she was working as a waitress in a 5 star restaurant. It was while in PortAventura that she got the chance to really improve her Spanish. Päivi enjoyed her work in PortAventura, but it was only a seasonal contract. Wanting to find a more permanent job abroad she returned to EURES and started looking for suitable jobs in Gran Canaria. “I knew I wanted to go to Gran Canaria – I had been here before and love the food, the culture and the sun!!!!”

Päivi is currently working as head chef in Ale Pub G.C. Agaete Park in Playa del Ingles, where she is responsible for organising the menus, the food supplies, her eight staff in the restaurant and general management. “I think I got the position because I am very professional, I am good at what I do and I also work very hard. I think my knowledge of languages also really helps because there are such a range of customers here.” Päivi’s language skills are impressive; she can speak Finnish, Spanish, Swedish, English, French and a bit of German. “I studied Spanish a long time ago in school and started classes again a couple of years ago. Now it is part of my daily life, which is great.”

When talking about her future plans there is no hesitation in Päivi’s voice. She has no plans to return to Finland: “I plan to stay here forever. I have made many new friends here, which I think I find quite easy because of my open personality, and because the nature of my work is sociable – I meet a lot of people every day. I really feel that it is thanks to EURES and my experiences on the main land that I am where I am today: I have a great job and I’m living on a beautiful island. What else could I possibly need?”

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