The Polish veterinarians have fallen in love with Skellefteå
Molle the beagle is lying on the examination table in front of veterinarian Marta Perszko with neck pain.
- It's easy to get emotionally involved in the best interests of the animals and you often become a psychologist for the owners as well, she says, taking a blood sample.
Just over two years ago, Marta and her husband Mikolaj, who is also a veterinarian, came to Skellefteå and fell in love with the area.
- It was like coming home, he says.
Right now they work in different places. Marta at Lappland Animal Clinic and Mikolaj at home in Ragvaldsträsk on parental leave with the couple's two daughters.
- "I've never been as happy as I am now and at the same time as tired," he says, laughing.
- "But it's fantastic. Our first daughter was small when we lived in Poland and I worked far too much then, so it feels good that I have the opportunity to be at home now," he says.
But let's take it from the beginning.
It all started with a job advertisement on Facebook: "We are looking for veterinarians" was the title of the animal clinic's post that caught their interest.
- That's the advantage of Facebook ads, it's easy to check with someone who works there if everything is okay. There are many active veterinary groups that you can go through and we did that because we had never even been to Sweden before," says Marta.
Soon they had found a house to rent at Boviksbadet and were ready to take on their new life. Venturing into new adventures has never been an obstacle for Marta and Mikolaj. They had already spent a few years working outside Liverpool in England.
- It was a good experience but hard work. "Marta got pregnant while we were living there and since we didn't know anything about children, we wanted to be close to help, family and friends," says Mikolaj.
However, the move back to Poland meant that the salary plummeted and the pace of work was very hard. A bad combination and both felt that a better balance between work and family life had to be found.
- We met other veterinarians working in Sweden who were very happy with their lives. With a small child, we felt that it was extra important for us too," he says.
In Skellefteå, both have worked part-time and now feel that the life puzzle is perfect.
- "After the UK, our balance of demands was a bit different, mostly for the sake of our children so that we can give them a good future. We are so happy with our choice to come here," says Marta.
- "I love Norrland, it's a fantastic place, imagine living with the forest so close. We feel at home in Ragvaldsträsk and love this place. Now we are starting to have more contact with the neighbors and help each other. Sometimes someone gets in touch and has problems with their rooster or hunting dog, then you have to help," says Mikolaj.
There has been a significant shortage of veterinarians in Sweden for several years. The previous government set up an investigation to create a sustainable and long-term well-functioning health care system for animals. One reason for the shortage is that there are too few training places, which means that many people go abroad to study.
- "It's an internationally viable profession, you can work anywhere. At school, I didn't know what to do with my life, but if I become a veterinarian, I have a lot of freedom. I can work with both large and small animals all over the world, both in rich and developing countries, I can also become a researcher or work in a clinic, work in the city or in the countryside. And I like animals, which feels like a prerequisite. When I was growing up, we always had a lot of adopted animals that my parents took care of. Now it has become the same for us," he says.
In the villa in Ragvaldsträsk, we are greeted by Fluffy on the grandfather's doorstep, a frisky little Pomeranian and the calm Labrador Rumba. In addition, the animal lovers have two cats and a turtle. All animals have been adopted by the family for various reasons.
- My choice of profession was just based on the fact that I like animals, it was no more remarkable than that. Today, I love my job and I do something that is really meaningful - I can help animals, both sick and injured, so it really feels like a great job," says Marta.
How much work talk do you do at home at the dinner table?
- A lot! Especially when I come home and Mikolaj is chatty because he's been talking to the kids all day. Sometimes bad things happen at work and I think that always hurts, I have a hard time letting go without thinking about what happened. Then it is nice that we are there for each other and have a common understanding of the profession," she says.
The Perszko family: Marta, 33, Mikolaj, 30, and the couple's two daughters.
Pets: Fluffy the Pomeranian, Rumba the Labrador, Tiger and Kicia the cats, and Oogway the tortoise, aged 27.
Lives: House in Ragvaldsträsk.
Works: Lapplands Djurklinik in Skellefteå.
1/ Västerbottenspaj or Polish pies?
Mikolaj: "of course pierogi!"
2/ Northern elk or Polish bison?
Marta: "northern moose"
Mikolaj: "Moose, Polish bison are scary beasts."
3/ Dog or cat?