Maria grew up in Estonia - a small, forested and boggy country, where everyone has at some point in their lives sang in a choir, where people spend their weekends picking berries and mushrooms in the forest and jump over bonfires during long midsummer nights. Growing up in a family which appreciates connection with the surrounding environment and nature, developing a keen interest in biology was not a surprise.
Interest in the natural world led her to study biology in Scotland. As part of her bachelor's degree, she got a chance to go on an exchange year to Svalbard. Something about this somehow simple snow-covered landscape, its harshness in blizzards, majestic beauty and vastness felt captivating and kept pulling her back towards it. While studying in Svalbard, Maria had an opportunity to work as a hiking guide, which deepened her admiration towards this unique area. Time spent in Svalbard, inspired her to pursue a master's degree in Arctic biology and to learn more about the colder parts of our world.