This month has come and gone before my eyes and I cannot believe this is already my last blog post. We finished the trip with a weekend in Prague! A group of 12 of us left early Thursday morning in order to catch our 9am flight to the Czech Republic. We had a full weekend planned from exploring Prague’s Old Town, touring castles, a dinner cruise, and visiting the KGB Interactive museum. The most important part of this mini vacation for me was to just enjoy spending time with everyone during our last weekend. Prague was an absolutely beautiful city, but it was the people I went with that made it so memorable.

I laugh now about the reservations I had before coming on this study abroad, but at the time I was so anxious to meet the other students. I knew that no matter what I would make the best of my time here, but I did not realize how much fun and how many friendships I would form in the process. Being here made me realize that 1 month is too short, and for a few days I seriously considered going on another, and longer, study abroad. But when I really started thinking about where to go and for how long, I realized that any other study abroad would be a letdown. I would spend my time there comparing every experience to my time in Finland, and I already know that it would not live up to my expectations. So, I just need to accept that my study abroad days are over, and that I couldn’t have asked for a greater experience.

After a month of adjusting to life in Helsinki, it truly came to feel like home. With ice cream stands everywhere I turned, an H&M only blocks away from our hotel, and a pizza restaurant just downstairs, it was an easy life to get used to. Pretty much without fail, every morning consisted of a hot vanilla latte from Waynes coffee, which was just down the street from our Omena Hotel. After class concluded for the day, we always somehow ended up getting dinner together, sitting at a park, or just hanging out in someone’s room. With every day so packed with adventure, I’m not sure if I have jet lag or if it’s just plain exhaustion since returning home. All I know is that this trip wouldn’t have been near as fun without the students I was lucky enough to experience this with. Along with the fun we had, we learned so much about international business culture and how to apply it to business decisions and negotiations in the future.

I am so thankful for this experience and for the people I was able to share it with. This truly was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and Helsinki will always hold a special place in my heart.

Categories: 2018 Trip

I write this from the USA, and that is quite possibly the saddest thing in the world right now! I loved this trip more than I ever could have expected and made friends (American and Finnish) that I know I will miss dearly.

The last week in Finland was extremely busy, primarily with schoolwork and travel. We had 2 papers and a presentation due all in the last couple of days, so the crew spent most of our remaining time together in Helsinki studying. This was a little sad, but we made the most of it and worked at a bar while watching the World Cup! On Wednesday, we had a picnic in the park to celebrate being done with Summer School and to spend time together before everyone split up to travel.

Bright and early the next morning, 12 of the 18 of us trekked to the airport to fly to Prague! We got there around noon and were overjoyed to find that it was about 80º F and sunny! We wasted no time, quickly dropped our bags off at the Air B&B and ran off to go sightseeing! That first day, we explored the Old Town square, the Jewish district, saw the Astronomical Clock tower, and ate ice cream in cinnamon dough cones, known to Czechs as Trdelnik.

The next two days, sadly, were rainy and cold, but that didn’t stop us from making the most of each moment. We got the chance to tour Prague castle, go to the John Lennon wall, visit an ice pub, take an evening dinner boat tour, and more. A favorite activity was going to an interactive KGB museum, owned by a Russian man who collected old artifacts. He was extremely entertaining and hilarious to listen to and would act out the way each weapon was used, with sound effects. It made for a memorable and comedic experience for all of us. The final day began with waffles and consisted of souvenir shopping and wandering around. I think that is my favorite kind of day, because it allows you to be pleasantly surprised by what you see, and is much more relaxed, as opposed to booking the whole day 9-5. Tabitha, Taylor and I enjoyed sitting outside a cafe and drinking coffee together, getting the chance to really talk to one another rather than focusing on doing activities. It was such a nice way to cap off the Prague trip before we had to fly back that evening.

The travel experience coming home was a little bit hectic and involved some flight delay, but we made it back safely nonetheless. It was incredibly hard to say goodbye to everyone. How do you go from spending every day together for a month, to nothing at all!

In summary, I am so thankful for this study abroad and the ways it opened my eyes. Finland and its surrounding areas are completely different than anything I have ever experienced, which meant I learned SO much– in classes at school, through travel, and through just interacting with the barista at Wayne’s Coffee. In the car on the way home, I found that I had so much to tell my parents about what I learned about Nordic and Russian culture and business (surprise surprise!). Many of these things were not gleaned from a lecture, but from applying lecture concepts to living in the midst of something completely foreign. I would highly encourage people to go on this trip. It is not your typical study abroad experience to Italy or Spain, and because of that, you can expect to have your world completely shaken in the best way possible.

Categories: 2018 Trip

Week four was the hardest week for me because I knew shortly we would have to return home. I had so much fun on my trip and learned so much that I did not want to come back. I enjoyed myself very much and some of my favorite things were our classmates from Hanken, the town, the food (we had the best bread everyday), and the culture of the Finish people. School during the fourth week ended on Wednesday for us meaning we had four free days to ourselves.

In those four days I just allowed myself to roam the city freely without any direction and just would guide my way back home when I was ready. The town itself is very beautiful and it was quiet then best they were in holiday known as midsummer. This means a lot of the locals were gone, business were closed, and there was not much to do. This was just right for me because it made getting through the city a bit easier without so many people walking or taking the tram and I was able to really see everything for myself and enjoy it personally.

Before coming back I had to enjoy the Finish tradition of going to the sauna! This was also one of the things I will miss from Finland. It very ironic because I didn’t think I would like the sauna at all but it was the best place to think for yourself and relax and just let everything pour off of you, literally.

This study abroad trip will be one I cherish forever. For starters, I came on this trip not knowing anyone and having zero knowledge about Finland. I’m leaving with so much more and I am happy to have gained lots of new friends.

Getting back home was a challenge, due to some complications and long flights that included delays, but we came back safely and was sad that we all had to go our separate ways until we see each other in school for Fall 2018.

If I could do this trip over again I definitely would! There’s so much I want to share with other people about what study abroad has to offer and I can’t wait for them to listen! Most importantly, thanks to Mrs. Panina for making it all happen! Kitos and gig em!

Categories: 2018 Trip

I can’t believe it’s over! This month has been the adventure of a lifetime and something I will never forget! Week 4 started quick and started busy. We had group projects and papers to finish so Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were filled with plenty of school work. During those days, the majority of our study abroad group hung out together and watched some of the World Cup games while working. It was such a great time to bond even more with the people we had already spent three weeks with and it felt more like friends hanging out then people who had just met a few weeks ago. Along with the knowledge of Nordic culture and business, I will be coming back home with some amazing friends that I might not have ever met if I did not go on this study abroad. That made this week much harder to get through since we all had the knowledge that the end of this trip was nearing, but we tried to just push that to the back of our minds and enjoy the time we had left.

On the last day of class, we finished up our presentations and then we all went out to lunch. We were able to sit and eat with the Finnish students that we had class with and some of our professors which was a good time. After lunch some of us went souvenir shopping to find some more gifts for friends and family. We stumbled into a seemingly normal gift shop and started walking around to find that there was a downstairs that was filled entirely with Christmas decorations. This was amazing! It truly felt like I was walking in a winter wonderland and since Finland has its famous Santa Claus Village, it was like being in the middle of Santa’s workshop. I walked out of that store ready for the Christmas season (and its only June!). A little later in the day, most of our group went to the park to sit and hang out and some of the Finnish students came to join us as well. It was a great way to spend our last full day in Helsinki just sitting around in the middle of the city getting to chat with the new friends we made and say goodbye to our home for the last month because the next day we were flying out to Prague!

On Thursday we got up early and headed to the airport so we could fly to the Czech Republic. Walking out of the airport was a true shock from what we had been experiencing in Helsinki weather wise because it was 80 degrees in Prague. Just like Estonia, Prague had an Old Town too so we walked around and saw some really old buildings and beautiful views of the city. The streets are so old they are cobble stone which makes the city look so much more authentic, but it also took a toll on my feet so after the first day I was pooped. I woke up from a restful night of sleep and we walked over to a KGB museum that had great reviews on Trip Advisor. The museum was a pretty small room filled with many different Russian KGB artifacts, and the owner was a very theatrical man who enjoyed sharing knowledge of the weapons used by the KGB. He demonstrated how some of the weapons were used in very entertaining ways with sound effects and crazy movements. When we finished the museum, we made our way to meet a tour guide for a castle tour. We got to see Prague Castle which is this huge area with many different buildings. It was a pretty cool place to get to see and explore the castle and all the area around it. After the tour was over we went on a dinner cruise on the river that goes through the city. It was so nice to get to watch the sun go down on the water while seeing the city on both sides of the boat. The next day, a few of us just walked around the city and bought some souvenirs before we headed back to Helsinki for one last night.

I will never forget this month, and Finland will always be a home to me. I have learned so much about the Finnish culture from the classes I have taken and by getting to interact and make friends with Finnish students. This month seemed like it flew by, and as happy as I am to see my family and sleep in my own bed in America, my heart will always have a longing to be back in Helsinki.

Categories: 2018 Trip

During our final week in Helsinki, we had a five-page reflection and a twenty-minute presentation due, so much of it was spent working on these assignments and watching the FIFA World Cup. We were also able to spend some time in a beautiful park together with some of our Finnish friends. After our last day of class, there was a farewell lunch for us and our classmates. It was great to be able to see friends from previous classes and spend more time with everyone, but it was also very sad to say goodbye and acknowledge that our time in Finland was coming to an end.

A few of us chose to spend our last weekend in Prague, and I’m so grateful that we made this decision. Prague was absolutely phenomenal. We were there for such a short period of time, yet we were able to experience so much. On the first day, I was able to visit an alchemy museum which also consisted of a tower in which Shakespeare supposedly wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Next, I stumbled upon a “magical cavern.” This was really just a building made to look like a cave inside, and it contained very unique pieces of art. I was also able to climb to the top of the Observation Tower on Petrin Hill and see some stunning views of the city. My second day in Prague was even more hectic. We spent some time on the Charles Bridge buying souvenirs from street vendors. One of the most interesting things we did this day was visit a KGB museum. This was just a small room in a random building and seemed to be operated by one man. He was very entertaining and explained most of the artifacts in great detail. It was a very strange experience, but I’m glad I went. We also went on a guided tour of Prague Castle. It’s enormous and has several different parts. Here we were able to learn about the history and culture of the Czech Republic. St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle was incredible and had huge arches, beautiful stained glass windows, and an intricate vaulted ceiling. After this tour, a few of us visited the Lennon Wall and attempted to visit St. Nicolas Church, but we accidentally climbed a tower next door instead. I’m actually really glad we made this mistake because the views of the city from this tower were amazing and didn’t have windows or bars blocking the view. On the final day, a few of us visited Terezin and learned about prisons, concentration camps, and other aspects of life in the Czech Republic during World War II. This was a very eye-opening experience and allowed me to better understand the war from a European perspective. Prague is unlike any place I’ve ever visited, and it’s a place I will definitely visit again when I return to Europe.

I had always planned to study abroad, but I never had any idea where I would go. Finland definitely wasn’t somewhere I expected to visit, but I’m extremely happy that it’s where I ended up. Helsinki is very safe, clean, and organized which made living there ideal. All of the classes we took were very interesting and applicable to my major. Although I learned a great deal in my classes, I also learned a lot about people, traveling, and other aspects of life. The weekend trips we took were unforgettable and allowed us to further immerse ourselves in European culture. I’m extremely thankful I was able to fulfill my dream of studying abroad. It exceeded my very high expectations and had a huge impact on my life.

Categories: 2018 Trip

This last week has come and gone too fast. We had two papers due this week as well as a presentation, so that kept us quite busy most of the week. We had our farewell luncheon with the Hanken students on Wednesday. Most of the Finnish students were there as well as our Nordic business culture professor. I was full of mixed emotions. I was happy to be spending the day with our new Finnish friends but also sad that it would be our last day together. I think most of my classmates felt the same way.

Thursday morning we left for Prague. Prague was my favorite weekend of the trip. We were in an awesome apartment right in the middle of the old town. We were right across the street from the famous Charles bridge. Prague and old town specifically was like an old medieval town. It was absolutely beautiful. There were awe inspiring churches, synagogues, statues and clock towers. One of my favorite buildings we went to was the old Spanish synagogue. It reminded me of a British cathedral. We also went to the Prague castle. This castle is collectively the biggest one in Europe. It once housed many royals both Czech and German. One of the most famous royals was Maria Theresa who was the mother of Maria Antoinette. Maria Theresa, we learned, was a very powerful queen who gave birth to 16 kids who she strategically married to other powerful royal houses in Europe. The castle itself was awesome, it had a massive cathedral within it that housed a lot of crown jewels as well as the tombs of several royal princes, kings and queens. It also held the tomb of a famous priest. This tomb was the most grand of them all. It almost completely gold and absolutely stunning. For dinner on the last night we went on a river cruise. We ate dinner as we floated down the river which was really fun. Overall, Prague was a great experience and I’m honestly bummed we didn’t have more time there. You could probably stay a week and still not get to everything you’d want to see.

Living in Europe for the past month has been a one of a kind experience and one that I will never forget. I learned so much about different cultures and histories. I met new and different friends that I will definitely keep in touch with. It is such a cool thing that I can say I lived in Europe for a month. The pictures and videos I have from exploring are going to a safe place so I can always see them. Being thrown into a different country far away from the United States is a challenge but it was one that I welcomed. Even the things you think you are familiar with from the States are much different. For example, the restaurant chains we have in the States are so much different in Europe. You also never tip any servers as they already include that on your bill. It was so fun to get acclimated to another culture and become comfortable with your strange surroundings. I would recommend this trip to anyone. Even the people that think they couldn’t do it. Because for those people it will make you grow up a little bit when you are out of your comfort zone. It was a great month that I will never forget.

Categories: 2018 Trip

My time here in Helsinki is coming to an end. I have come love Finland and have learned to embrace its culture. I thought at first that coming to Finland would be challenging and I would get homesick because I did not know much about this country before I came. Now, I can say that Helsinki feels like home. Every time I went someplace else like Tallinn or Turku, I wanted to go home to Helsinki by the second day on those trips. The city is nice, beautiful, unique, and safe. Walking around at night I never felt threatened or in trouble. Each day, the city has something new happening. There is always something to do whether that is just going to the sauna or a new different coffee shop everyday. Finland is unique in that it has saunas. I am so happy to have experienced a Finnish sauna because it really gave me a good idea of what the culture here is like. Like a guy said at Loyly Sauna “So this is how the Finns do it” because sitting in 90 degree Celsius heat is what Finns do every week. It sounds crazy but I have learned to love it and I am actually going to miss sauna’s like these back in the states. I am so glad I chose to study in a Nordic Country versus going to southern Europe. Usually if people go to Europe it’s to Spain or France, but now I can say I have been and lived in Helsinki, a Nordic country. It’s something different and unique.

Besides the sauna’s, Lapland is by far the coolest place I have ever been to and I am determined to come back to hike that 3 day hike and to go to the northern tip of Finland where all three countries (Norway, Finland, and Sweden) meet. I am so very grateful to have been given this opportunity to study here. I wouldn’t change anything about this trip and would do it again if given the chance.

Also, to all incoming Nordic study abroad applicants, definitely choose to plan a trip before or after this program to travel the rest of Europe. You won’t regret it and you might as well do it since you’re in Europe already!!

Categories: 2018 Trip

WOW! I can’t believe we finished our third weekend here already. For our third weekend here, we decided to go to Tallinn, Estonia. I highly recommend you go to Tallinn if you’re in Helsinki because it is only a two hour ferry ride and you don’t need to go through security or anything; it is so simple and easy. The ferry ride was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. I thought the ferry was going to be a small ferry that you would usually imagine. But boy I was wrong. It is HUGE. It reminds me of a cruise ship because it has restaurants on each 9 floors such as Burger King which I ate on the way there and on the way back. I honestly have not eaten Burger King in the U.S. until I got to Helsinki. It seems to be bigger and more popular than McDonald’s. Another reason why the ferry ride was one of my favorites is because I love the feeling of moving from place to place/country to country. We stayed in the old part Tallinn called Old Town Tallinn which is the oldest best preserved mid-evil town in Europe. We stayed in a really cool place that had huge rooms. My room, which I shared with four other classmates, was like a dungeon. We thought the room would open to a regular room on the first floor but that was not the case. When we opened the door, the room was downstairs so we had to climb down steep steps to go basically to the basement of the place. It was dark, all stone walls, and really authentic. We had a sauna in our room, a kitchen, and a bathing area. I definitely recommend staying here if you get a chance to go here. We explored Old Town Tallinn for three days. The first day we ate crepes at Kompressor which the boys from our trip went to the first weekend they were there. They recommended it to us and it was so good we went there each day we were in Tallinn. The second day we did a walking tour that lasted two hours. I recommend doing the walking tour because you get a taste of what all there is to do in the town and it’s free. On the third day, we explored and went to a couple of churches and castles. One castle we went to, we had to take a tram to get there and it was definitely worth it because it is so beautiful. We ate a lot of pasta while in Tallinn because we found this one restaurant and we just had to go back it was so yummy. Old Town Tallinn has a lot of souvenir shops and restaurants with outside seating areas. We also noticed that a lot of the restaurants had the same food but just in different locations. One thing I found interesting about Tallinn is that the outside of Old Town is super modern and new like a regular looking city you would think of. Overall, it was a great experience being able to go to Tallinn. I highly recommend you guys go if you get a change because it is 1) way cheaper than Helsinki 2) the oldest best preserved mid-evil town in Europe 3) it is culturally eye opening.

Categories: 2018 Trip

The past weekend we went to Lapland and it was an incredible experience. We had the opportunity to stay at this older campsite in Enotekio and have guides lead us through areas I never would have thought to have been. When we first arrived, we had reindeer soup for lunch and also saw a reindeer farm after, which felt a little weird but I was okay with it. Throughout the rest of the trip we hiked quite a bit (13 miles one day), ate some great food, and had the chance to sauna and jump into a 40-degree lake. My favorite thing though was the husky farm. The husky farm had over 200 dogs at the place itself, which was awesome. Also, we were allowed to spend time with them and pet them, and after a while it was obvious nobody wanted to leave.

During this past week, we visited Fazer, a Nordic chocolate and food services company. Fazer is a very well-known Nordic brand, and you can see their name posted everywhere around Helsinki. My favorite thing about Fazer was easily the chocolate tasting room. Essentially what we were told is that we had 10 minutes to try as many chocolates as we wanted, as long as we didn’t take any out with us. So, for the next 10 minutes everyone ate way too many sweets, and afterward felt sick of chocolate. Nevertheless, it was a fun experience and the group still bought a ton of chocolate to take home to friends and family.

This weekend, five of us went to Porvoo, a town about an hour bus ride to the east away from Helsinki. The town was pretty small but had a good character. Also, the buildings were painted different colors that were vibrant and so it looked very neat. For the most part, we hiked around, climbed on rocks, and enjoyed views of the city. Overall, I enjoyed visiting the small town; it was interesting to see how different it was compared to Helsinki even though it was not that far away.

Lastly, this next weekend most of us will be in either Stockholm or Prague, so we actually have fewer days left in Finland than we thought. Nevertheless, I am eager to see the culture differences between Finland and Sweden, and experiencing a new country is always exciting. But until then, we will be finishing up assignments and enjoying Helsinki as always!

Categories: 2018 Trip

This week we went to Fazer. My experience at the Fazer confectionary was a good one. We started by heading to the gift shop. They had all of the candy that Fazer makes. We then went to their green house.  We got to see some of the tropical plants they use in production. It was neat because they had the plants which could not be grown in Finland outside of their facility. We then went to a viewing area to watch a short video on the history of Fazer. We also learned about the founder Karl Fazer. We then went into a meeting room for a presentation from one of the senior staff members. She presented the goals and values of the Fazer. She also presented some of Fazer’s financial statements. They had more than a billion dollars in revenue in the past year. That figure is very impressive. We then as a group played a trivia game where the winner received a gift bag full of Fazer products. Next stop on the tour was probably my favorite. We then went to the sampling area and virtual reality (VR) set-up they had. They had VR headsets that allowed you to see some of their business operations while not truly being there. This was cool because you could pick which products you wanted to see being produced, and how the production line was set-up. Then it was on to the candy taste test. I made it a point to try every candy they had, at least a bite of them. The tour guide gave us 10 minutes to essentially eat as much as we wanted. They had every candy they sold in there.  Truthfully, I was not a big fan of their chocolate. It is very different from the Hershey’s bar I am used to. Their black licorice was truly terrible. I don’t understand how someone could enjoy that one. After the ten minutes was up and everyone had tasted what we wanted, we were all left feeling sick after. After the initial stomach ache came the crazy sugar high. That took a long time to wear off. Overall, I had a great experience at the Fazer confectionary and would recommend anyone to go see it for themselves.

Over the weekend, we went to Tallinn, Estonia. This was an awesome little medieval town. It had a lot of cool shops and restaurants we ate at. We stopped at a little palace far away from the Olde Town square. It was beautiful. I couldn’t go on the tour however because my broken ankle was swelling up pretty bad so I had to take it easy. But I did get to look at it from the outside. As well as, going in the back and checking out the garden and fountains. I would compare this place to New Orleans in the states. It a lot of drunk crazy people doing crazy things. It was fairly entertaining however. During meals you could watch from your restaurant to see all the hooligans pulling pranks in the Square. It was a good weekend. I am looking forward to Prague next weekend.


Categories: 2018 Trip