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Hello, Suomi! Croatian waiter Josip Binder on life and work in rural Finland

Before coming to Finland, Josip Binder worked on cruise ships around the world and in Europe. Then the pandemic happened, everything came to a halt and Josip stayed in Croatia for a year. During that time, he searched for new adventures and a new job in the Nordic countries. One of his best friends put him in touch with a Finnish recruitment agency and after the initial interview, they offered him a couple of jobs to choose from. Sahanlahti Resort in Puumala sounded like the best option, so he decided to go work there as a waiter. After the summer season in Sahanlahti, he worked in Lapland for the winter season and this year he returned to Sahanlahti.

The biggest challenge?

Puumala is a small village, and I was the first foreigner to work there. So obviously, the language barrier was the biggest challenge at first. This year we have many foreigners working here, and now it is quite normal to hear English everywhere around the Resort. During my work day, I usually approach the guests in English, so they get the impression I would prefer to speak English. So far, I haven’t faced any problems with that.

Your favourite Croatian dish

Food in the Saimaa Region is really nice with a lot of focus on local ingredients, and most of it comes from the local farms. I miss the goulash type of food that my mother makes. She knows that I miss it a lot, so when I go back to Croatia, she knows what to cook for me.

I bring to the work community…

The Croatian sense of humor, which is a bit different from the Finnish one. Therefore, I needed a few weeks for my colleagues to understand my way of joking with them. They thought I was being serious, but I was just trying to make them feel good around me. I like the way everything is working perfectly, at least from my point of view. This place I work at is slowly becoming known outside of Finland, and we have more guests from Germany, Austria, and other places around Europe. The seasonal workers who came this year are also from a few different countries, so the Sahanlahti Resort is becoming multinational in that regard.

What is the strangest Finnish food?

Finnish Easter pudding or mämmi as you call it. Definitely that one. I was curious to try that ”delicacy” but one time was enough for a lifetime.


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Josip Binder

  • Waiter
  • Workplace Sahanlahti Resort Puumala
  • Born in Croatia


  • Tilaa Lehti

    Inspiraatiota ja hyötyä ruuan ja juoman ammattilaisille.

    Tilaa Aromi