ULAN-UDE, EAST SIBERIA: Maria was working the coffee machine in a small kiosk on Arbat Street in Ulan-Ude on a weekday afternoon.
Maria, in her mid-20s, said she studied and worked in St. Petersburg as a lawyer. However, after two years, she said she got tired of working in an office and quit, moving back home to Ulan-Ude.
”I am doing what I love,” she said from inside the kiosk. ”I go to work like I am going to a holiday celebration. I want to lift people’s spirits.”
Maria says she works about a month, saves up her money and then goes snowboarding for a few days. She is now saving to go to China in the fall. ”It is an old dream of mine to go to China,” she said.