An eye-opening travel experience

I have always been passionate about traveling. My family has always traveled ever since I was a kid, so I think that has had a huge impact on my interest in traveling.

I used to think that traveling was just a way to relax and travel to another country to see the most famous landmarks, but during my early teenage years, I started viewing traveling as a way to learn and meet other people and cultures.

The eye-opener

The first trip that really opened my eyes was the vacation to London when I was 15. My friend and I designed our own trip and it was a huge change to holidays that I was used to doing with my family. It really opened my eyes to a whole new way of enjoying traveling. Obviously, we visited the famous attractions, but we tried to not be the most basic tourist stereotype. For example, we didn’t want to take any guided tour busses and wanted to explore London by walking and “surviving” on our own. Because of that we also got to hang around and play frisbee with the local teenagers.

What I have noticed after that trip is that I remember a lot more of that vacation than some of the most recent trips. The more I travel with my own freedom and with my own will the more memorable the vacation is. As a traveler, I am open-minded and spontaneous which is really contradicting to my day-to-day persona. I am really rational and I like to plan things beforehand but when I’m traveling, I really try to be a freer spirit.

When I was younger, I wanted to always have the most luxurious hotels and eat in the most expensive restaurants and we often did. I truly feel I was close-minded and later I realized how much I have probably missed during those vacations. But I’m glad that at least now I have the ability to experience more in the future.

My future plans

I chose to study tourism because of the passion I have for traveling, but also because of the reason my personality fits this field of study. I always wanted to study law and I applied for it too, but it felt kind of forced and I didn’t think I would want to have it as my professional career.

As a tourism student, I feel that I have more freedom and more opportunities in the future, and the freedom that I lacked in the law field. I don’t stress too much about my career but I do know that I want to travel and socialize with new people!

Text: Vera Karttunen, second year International Tourism Management student
Pictures: Pixabay

How solo travelling and moving abroad by myself has changed me

I have always loved travelling and exploring the world. My first flight was when I was 7 years old. We flew to Israel to have a family holiday. After that I have had beach holidays with family, city vacations with friends, and solo trips. All of these has its pros and cons but I would like to open a little bit why solo travelling has had the biggest impact in my life.


My first solo travel destination was to Gdansk, Poland. It actually happened accidentally. I asked some of my friends to join but when they were not able, I asked myself why I couldn’t go alone? I did and that was the best decision. You are free to have your own timetable and no need to make compromises with anyone. You can explore as much as you want or as little as you want, and maybe just focus on eating and enjoying the atmosphere. The second option was the one what I did in Poland. I did explore a little bit the city but mostly just wanted to relax. It is easy to make friends in hostels as those are full of people around the world. You can choose if you want to sleep in a big mixed dorm or if you prefer to stay in a smaller dorm with the same gender. In the best hostels I’ve also got free waffels 😊


On 2015 I got frustrated to live in Finland and I moved to work to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Over there I worked in a customer service field. Having colleagues from four different countries and cultures increased my cooperation and relationship skills with people from different backgrounds. Middle East is definitely not the easiest place to experience living abroad but it gave me lots of self-confidence, memorable moments and a long-lasting tan.

Thailand and Australia

On 2018 I packed my backpack again and without any clear plan, I moved to Australia. I flew there via Thailand where I stayed one week. I didn’t know anyone from Thailand when I arrived but got new friends from there. Suddenly I found myself being part of a coreography performance on the street, arranged by a student group. So, you never know from where you are gonna find yourself when you travel alone.

Australia offered koala cuddling, easy going people, and surfing lessons. I lived in a city called Melbourne. Melbourne is very international and the city feels like a European city. Like in Dubai, I was working in a customer service field also in Australia.

Australian accent can be very thick and they abbreviate lots of words which was a little bit of a challenge in the beginning. Quite quickly I was able to understand more and more and after 6 months I found myself talking with abbreviated slang words myself.  So, Australia definitely increased my English skills but gave also memorable moments and lots of knowledge about life downunder.

When you’ve once experienced living alone in another country, you live everyday life speaking other language than your own native language, and solve problems independently, you grow a lot and you also learn a lot about yourself. Things are not always going smoothly and sometimes it is difficult to find the right attitude, but you gain a very valuable experience and it gives you the best education for life.

Text and photos: Matleena Knuutila, first year International Tourism Management student

Seven unexpected situations during traveling

It can happen to you anywhere, something unexpected. It can be something not wanted or not so funny. It can also be the cherry on top of the cake and the funniest thing ever.  An unexpected situation during traveling might be the one thing that you are talking about to your friends and family when you come home. You can still remember that unexpected situation after many years.

For me, those unexpected situations occurred in almost every destination I have visited. Maybe at that moment, every unexpected situation didn’t feel like the cherry on top of the cake, but after a while, they bring a smile to my face, because you know that’s life and hey, at least I have interesting stories to tell when I’m old in the rocking chair. Here are seven examples of the unexpected situations that happened to me during my travels.

Phuket, Thailand             

After sitting for about 11 hours on the bus from Bangkok to Phuket, my bladder was about to explode. We finally arrived and I rushed off the bus. To my horror, I found that there was nothing nearby that I could go to for necessities. Fortunately, however, I noticed this hair salon a little further away. I ran there with my backpack and when I got in the door, I shouted “Sawasdee ka!” and crossed my legs 😀 The hairdresser laughed a little and pointed with her hand to come here. We went to the back room and there was this room with only one hole in the ground. After seeing that hole in the ground I was in heaven. Best hole ever!

El Gouna, Egypt

I was just wandering around and found myself at this bag and shoe shop (surprisingly). I was just looking around and this man (the shop owner) came to me and he was showing me the bags and then he asked how long I’m going to stay in Egypt. I answered and then he was asking me if I was interested to work with him in this same shop where we were.

That wasn’t the last time some local offered me a job opportunity, even though I wasn’t searching for any job. It happened also in Cyprus and in the clothing store. I went to this clothing store, and I was just wandering around looking to buy some nice dresses. The clothing store saleswoman comes to me and asks how I can help, and I say thank you but I’m just looking. After a while, the woman comes to me again and asks how long I plan to stay in Cyprus, and when I answer, she asks if I would be interested in working in that clothing store!

Once upon a time in a cornfield far, far away

I was having a hot air balloon flight above the pyramids. When the flight came to its end and we needed to land on the ground, the hot air balloon man who was in charge of the flight was saying that we have to change our landing spot. So, in the end, we landed in the middle of the cornfield.

When we were getting out of the balloon, we were surrounded by local countryside children. They were putting their hands out in the way that they did expect that we had something to give them, like money. The kids surrounded us in a way that made it hard to start moving forward. We somehow managed to continue our way to get away from that cornfield as the man who was in charge of the balloon flight said that we need to go as fast as we can away from the begging children.

Bangkok, Thailand

What I have learned from these unexpected situations during traveling is that sometimes you just have to improvise.  I was wandering around in Chinatown and felt like eating. I found one stall where a local man sold skewers. The skewers looked and smelled really good. I wanted to buy it, but I can’t speak Thai. I asked the seller in English, is this pig? To which I got a response in Thai. The only thing I came up with was that I make noises of different animals, such as the sound of a cow and a pig, in order to know what meat the skewers are made of. So, I pointed at the skewer I wanted and made pig noises. The man laughed and nodded his head. At least one local had arrived next to me. Suddenly one of the locals could speak enough English to say that yes, it is a pork skewer.

Phuket, Thailand

I had a bus ticket with the seat number in my hand. When the bus arrived, I presented the ticket to the driver, and he gestured toward the back of the bus. I walked towards the back of the bus and looked at my ticket the whole way, which read seat number 67. I got to seat number 66 and then the bus ran out of seats. I wondered about it out loud in English and by chance, there was a man nearby who knew English, and he looked at my ticket and laughed and said that there was nothing he can do about it and to go and sit there and pointed to one empty seat on the bus. The whole way I was watching at my backpack like a lion mother, and I couldn’t sleep because I was absolutely sure that this seat belongs to someone. Well, it turned out that the seat didn’t belong to anyone, so I got off the bus in Bangkok, tired.

Edfu, Egypt

I was enjoying my horse carriage ride in Edfu. I had the privilege of sitting next to the driver and there were other people sitting further back in the carriage. We rode a horse-drawn carriage through the city. The weather was sunny, and we had fun. Until suddenly our horse had some kind of tantrum and started kicking the bag where the horse’s excrement was dripping. So, in the end of the ride we were all covered in horse poop!

Paris, France

I was traveling with my parents to Paris. It was a package tour, and we did almost all the traveling by our tour operators’ bus. So, we finally arrived in Paris and our bus was outside of our hotel. When we were heading out of the bus, our tour guide explained to us that we should take all our belongings with us to the hotel. It’s not safe to leave stuff on the bus overnight.

I was 12 years old back then and I thought that it didn’t matter if I left my camera there on the bus. Because anyway, we were about travel with the same bus around the city on next day. I thought it would be ok and it would be there waiting for me. Little did I know that the next morning when we were heading to our bus, our tour guide told us that there was a robbery that happened during the night and the robbers had broken into our bus. Our tour guide tells us to check if something was missing from the bus. Well, I didn’t see my camera anywhere. It was stolen.

Text and photos: Suzan Haikonen, first year International Tourism Management student

Routes to roots – from Sri Lanka to Europe

My name is Anupama de Silva, and I am a first-year degree student in International Tourism Management at SAMK. 

During my first semester studies in Tourism, I got the opportunity to learn about the factors that influence world tourism such as environment, economies, history, culture, religious importance and technology.  Among these, I found something very interesting that made me pay much attention to and drove me to gather information about, namely heritage tourism

The main purpose of this article is to bring attention to a related travel segment: a traveler who travels from one continent to another continent in search of the roots of his or her ancestors.

What is heritage travel?

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, heritage tourism is “Traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present.  It includes cultural, historic, and natural resources.”  In other words, heritage tourism is a type of travel where you search for an authentic understanding of how something, or a people, was like.  (Jackson, 2020)

Why heritage tourism is important to a traveler?

Heritage tourism owns unique characteristics to create a whole new angle to the world’s tourism, and a traveler who is interested and engaged in heritage tourism will be surely benefitted from unforgettable life-long memories. 

Among the same, the opportunity to learn about places, maybe more exciting things about your own place and ancestors or roots, the history behind the lifestyles of people who had lived there and what is remaining to cherish, beautiful memories to bitter truths, wars and economies and the impacts of them to the world to many more.

Route to roots

How about a person that travels from one continent to another continent in search of his or her own ancestors, or roots, or to witness the family members who are remaining?  Yes, if someone traces the roots maybe back a few generations, a great-grandmother or great-great-grandfather who was born somewhere interesting, and their connectivity to that place or the region, would create the thirst of going in search of those places. 

Being a Sri Lankan myself, I have heard many stories related to children who were given away for adoption, especially to European couples due to the poverty of their biological parents during 1960 to 1980s, and the re-visits made by those children who are now adults.  Apart from adoptions, there could be many reasons that someone will find their roots in an interesting place.  But, I never imagined that re-visits of someone in search of their own identities have such an impact on tourism.

Real-life scenarios

One of my cousins, Lourdes, who is now 25 years old, was adopted and her parents lived in Europe, and they used to visit Sri Lanka from time to time to see the family members – my grandmother, my mother, her brothers and sisters and their families.

During one visit, they had decided to adopt a child but decided to keep the child in Sri Lanka as they wished to spend most of the rest of their life in Sri Lanka, and also as per them, at that time, due to strict visa formalities it was difficult for them to obtain visa for the child.

Hence, the child grew up in Sri Lanka but of course, my uncle and aunty visited both countries equally. My uncle passed away at the age of 72 in Europe, but aunty managed to come back to Sri Lanka after her husband’s dismissal and passed away some years ago in Sri Lanka.

My uncle Anthony Lowe and aunty Catherine Lowe and the life they cherished.
Catherine Lowe (lived as a Europe citizen but passed away in Sri Lanka).

With my cousin, we have one ultimate goal, and that is to visit where they have lived and witness the life they had, in fact, to witness the graveyard where my cousin’s dad (my uncle) was buried.  She reminds many interesting things they had spoken when they were alive, about the life they had, and the place they lived.

This photograph was taken during a visit to Sri Lanka, Lourdes standing in the middle, their adopted daughter as a child.  She was under my parents’ custody whenever they lived away from Sri Lanka till to-date.

So, a travel plan to visit the place they have lived and about things they have spoken about, their friends and families, are in the itinerary as we both wish to bid farewell to my uncle, who passed away in Sweden, behalf of the whole family. 

To conclude, heritage tourism, and travel in search of roots, helps discover one’s own identity and gives memories to cherish even if they sometimes reveal the bitter truth of their life. 

As humans we all visit and re-visit many places in search of our identities throughout the universe. I wish every person who travels in seek of their identities will find something to cherish in their lives. 

Text and pictures: Anupama De Silva, International Tourism Management student


Opettavainen vierailu Auschwitziin

Kävimme perheeni kanssa reissussa, jossa vietimme muutaman yön sekä Tšekissä että Puolassa. Ensimmäisenä lensimme Prahaan, Tšekin pääkaupunkiin. Olimme siellä kolme yötä, kiertelimme vanhassa kaupungissa, kävimme vahamuseossa ja tutustuimme yleisesti kaupunkiin.

Prahasta lähdimme junalla kohti Puolaa, Krakovan kaupunkia. Krakovassa vietimme neljä yötä. Päivien aikana kiertelimme paljon kaupungissa sekä kävimme Auschwitzissa. Opastetulla kierroksella Auschwitzissa meille kerrottiin eri alueista ja mitä niissä on tapahtunut, kierrettiin vanhoissa kaasukammioissa sekä käytiin katsomassa paikkoja, joissa vangit nukkuivat.

Sisällä museotiloissa oli myös kasoittain kenkiä, vaatteita, laukkuja yms., jotka uhreilta riisuttiin ja jotka on säästetty. Hurja näky olivat ne kaikista pienimmät kengät ja vaatteet, joita joukosta löytyi turhan monet.

Auschwitzissä käynti opetti, kuinka hyvin asiat ovat tällä hetkellä, ja kuinka huonosti on mennyt Auschwitzin toiminnan aikaan. Yli miljoona uhria on surmattu mitä raaimmilla keinoilla, seassa myös lapsia ja vauvoja. Vierailu leirillä oli koskettava ja silmiä avaava, ja sai tajuamaan kuinka väärin toiminta on ollut. Siellä tapahtuneet asiat ovat karuja, eikä niiden julmuutta pysty käsittämään. Olen kiitollinen, että olen syntynyt aikakaudelle, jolloin kyseiset rajut tapahtumat ovat jo historiaa. Saamme olla rauhassa omia itsejämme, uskonnosta tai mistään muusta riippumatta.

Kierros leirialueella sekä kuvat ja uhrien vanhat vaatteet ovat karu näky. Auschwitz on kammottava kohde, mutta myös todella upea kokemus. En ollut perehtynyt asiaan kauheasti ennen vierailuamme siellä. Tiesin, että luvassa on kauheita ja järkyttäviä asioita, mutta en tiennyt missä määrin. Kierroksen jälkeen toiminta siellä alkoi kiinnostaa todella paljon, ja edelleen katselen kuvia ja luen artikkeleita leiristä. Paikkana ja matkakohteena Auschwitz saattaa olla sellainen, johon ei ensimmäisenä haluaisi mennä. Mutta uskon, että se juurikin tekee siitä unohtumattoman ja tärkeän. Kun kohtaa jotain, mitä ei oikeastaan haluaisi kohdata.

Suosittelen Auschwitzissa käyntiä kokemuksena todella paljon. Vaikka olen kerran jo kierroksella käynyt, haluaisin kovasti päästä uudelleen, ja varmasti tulevaisuudessa myös käyn. Paikka on merkittävä, ja paikan päällä käyminen jättää jäljen muistoihin ja tekee tapahtumista vielä tärkeämpiä. Astuessa alueelle, tuntuu kuin astuisi uuteen maailmaan, ja pääsee näkemään tapahtumat uhrien silmin.

Teksti ja kuvat: Sonja Vuorinen, ensimmäisen vuoden Matkailuliiketoiminnan opiskelija

Water nurtures, embraces and brings us back to life

Course that was only available in an online version seemed very interesting to me, althought I would have wanted it to be contact lessons. The course topic is something that could create discussion. Why water is so important for our well-being, not only for consuming but mentally also?

Sea and water itself for us Finnish people should be an important asset. Clean water is not that common in the world. We should appreciate it and cherish it. Swimming in the lake, or a fell stream should be lifegoals or even a way of life.

I have followed this one woman @jonna_saari in Instagram for many years and grown into admiring her way of life. She moved to Lapland and is enjoying life on it’s fullest. She goes for a morning swim in the small forest lake with the purest water and morning fog around her. She finds well-being from the silent morning and cold water. It makes her body feel alive and her mind focused.

In my opinion this is something that could be seen as an experience from the north. Something unusual and something so pure and natural. Oh and did I mention she goes there sometimes even naked, surrounded by the forest, the smells, the silent sounds of nature with nothing on, just the feel of the cold water on her skin. This feeling is not common for all of us but it should be at least once in a lifetime happening.

This is something that I have wanted to experience myself. The old ways of us in the wilderness, the lakes and the streams in my beloved Lapland. These wilderness camps could be one good way to bring people away from the modern hectic way of life. No phones, just you and the nature. It could be also a nice way to empty the head full of business ideas, worry and time.

Water is something that calms us, no matter what it is there. It is silent, but strong. It feels relaxing and forgiving. It feels nurturing, embracing and brings us back to life. It is something that we will always need and something we will always seek. Water is purity and inspiration.

Water is an element we feel, used in commercials, in various methods of marketing. It makes us thirsty, it makes us clean. It is part of us. The sound of water is used in relaxation and meditation througout the world, as long as we have lived.

We all have a relationship with water, no matter where you live or how.  It might be love, need, fear or for example respect. What does water represent to you? It has so many various sides to it and in tourism it can be used so many different ways.

One question could bring so many different answers. What is your well-being from the blue spaces?

Text and photos: Mai Virtanen, third year International Tourism Management student

Meitsi matkailijana – Sveitsi kohteena

Erittäin toimiva puheenaihe tutustuessa toiseen ihmiseen on matkailu; missä maissa ollaan vierailtu, millaisia kokemuksia matka on tarjonnut ja minne seuraavaksi? On mielenkiintoista kuunnella millaisia matkoja toiset tekevät ja kuinka paljon ne eroavat omasta matkailuhistoriasta ja -tyylistä.

Oma matkailuni on vasta aluillaan. Olen käynyt kolmessa eri maassa ja vieraillut niiden sisällä melkein kymmenessä kaupungissa. Jokaisella matkalla olen oppinut jotain itsestäni matkailijana ja saanut selvyyttä sille mitä matkalta haluan ja haen. Tulevaisuuden haaveena on matka Sveitsiin.

Yllätysvisiitti Pariisiin

Matkustin Pariisiin yllättämään parhaan ystäväni, joka oli saanut työpaikan Disneylandista. Saavuin hänen perheensä kanssa kolmen päivän lomareissulle, jonka aikana kävimme puiston lisäksi kiertelemässä Pariisin kuuluisimmat kohteet. Disneylandissa ja Pariisissa käyminen on monien ihmisten unelma, ja olen niin kiitollinen että se unelma kävi kohdallani toteen.

Tällä matkalla tajusin kuinka tärkeää minulle on matkustaa henkilökohtaisesti merkittävään kohteeseen läheisten henkilöiden kanssa. Ja myöskin sen, ettei kolme päivää riitä mihinkään.

Disneyland, Pariisi

Pari reissua Italiaan

Italiassa olen käynyt kaksi kertaa. Ensimmäisellä kerralla kävin tanssijoukkueeni kanssa esiintymässä eräässä kansainvälisessä tapahtumassa ja toisella kerralla matkustin lukioryhmän kanssa opintomatkalle Roomaan.

Ensimmäisestä matkasta on kulunut jo paljon aikaa. Muistan vain miten upeaa oli esiintyä taitavien esiintyjien kanssa isolla lavalla, ja pitää tanssitreenejä ulkona upeissa maisemissa! Viikon aikataulu oli kuitenkin tosi tiivis, ja tällä matkalla huomasin ettei liian kiireinen aikataulu ole mieleeni matkaillessa.

Toiselta reissulta taas olisi niin paljon kerrottavaa ettei kukaan jaksaisi lukea niin pitkää blogitekstiä. Matkassa mukana olivat sekä historian- että uskonnonopettajat, jotka olivat suunnitelleet meille mahtavan viikon pituisen reissun, jolla riitti mielenkiintoisia nähtävyyksiä ja kauniita paikkoja!

Heillä oli paljon kerrottavaa jokaisesta matkakohteesta ja opin reissulla paljon nippelitietoa, esimerkiksi sen että Rooman viemärin kansissa lukeva S.P.Q.R. tarkoittaa Rooman senaattia ja kansaa. Tällä reissulla oli mielestäni hyvin tasapainotettu yhteisen ohjelman sekä oman ajan määrä. Huomasin rakastavani enemmän kauniita maisemia ja mielenkiintoisia kohteita kuin pelkkää kaupungissa pyöriskelyä.

San Marino, Italia

Espanjaan vai?

Espanjan matka oli myöskin opintomatka lukioaikana. Suuntasimme Madridiin ja Salamancaan. Tämä reissu oli enimmäkseen espanjan kielen harjoittelua varten, vaikka kiersimmekin muutamassa suositussa kohteessa. Tällä reissulla opin itsestäni matkailijana sen, että pelkkä ’’tämä on kuuluisa patsas’’ ei riitä minulle, vaan haluan tietää mikä patsas se on ja miksi se on kuuluisa.

Matka oli enimmäkseen kaupungeissa liikuskelua, mutta onneksi bussimatka Salamancaan tarjosi upeita maisemia! Salamancassa itsessään oli myös kauniita kohteita, viihdyin siellä enemmän kuin Madridissa. Tällä reissulla tuli kuin kertauksena se, että tarvitsen kauniit maisemat ja mielenkiintoiset kohteet kokeakseni matkan mieluiseksi.

Salamanca, Espanja

’’Jokaisen on kerran elämässään matkustettava Sveitsiin’’

Mutta mikä siinä Sveitsissä oikein viehättää?

Ala-asteeni opettaja sanoi kerran (tai no, montakin kertaa) että jokaisen on kerran elämässään matkustettava Sveitsiin. Se on kuulemma kaunis ja upea paikka. Tämä jäi korvani taakse pitkäksikin aikaa, ja aina kun kysyttiin mihin haluan matkustaa, vastasin Sveitsiin.

Monta vuotta myöhemmin katsoin korealaisen draamasarjan nimeltä ’’Crash Landing on You’’ jossa kyseinen paikka on keskeisessä osassa. Olinhan katsonut kuvia Sveitsistä aikaisemminkin, mutta sarjassa se esiteltiin aivan uudella tavalla. Tämä paikka on kiehtonut minua niin monta vuotta, ja tämä sarja vahvisti sen, että sinne on pakko päästä.

Työpaikallani törmäsin kanssatyöntekijään, joka kertoi asuvansa Sveitsissä, mutta työskentelevänsä ympäri maailmaa. Hän vinkkasi minulle, että kannattaa majoittua Saksan puolella kaupunkiin nimeltä Bad Säckingen ja kulkea sieltä Sveitsiin, jotta kukkaroni kestää matkan paremmin. Suunnitelmahan on siis jo valmis?

Tuntuu ihan siltä etteivät kaikki tiet viekkään Roomaan – vaan Sveitsiin. Vielä en ole päättänyt onko tämä matka, jonka haluan jakaa rakkaiden ihmisten kanssa, vai olisiko tämä jotakin, joka tulee kokea ihan itsekseen. Aika saa näyttää.

Teksti ja kuvat: Katja Kalevo, Matkailuliiketoiminnan ensimmäisen vuoden opiskelija

Street food is an element of cultural identity

I consider myself a gourmet of local food. Food-related experiences play such an important role in my daily life and there is a lot of things to tell about food tourism.

I have been a local gourmet of Vietnamese cuisine, or Saigonese cuisine in particular. For me, food should be an identity of a culture, and a means of the cook to tell specific stories to the taster. Experiencing local cuisine is not just because of the taste, the reputation, the appearance, but because culinary stories bring food to life, making visitors truly immersed in the atmosphere of culture and history that permeates the taste in their mouth. As the result, I prefer local and authentic food shop instead of those mainly for tourists, or if they are made for tourism, they should still maintain their local values.

Therefore, street food has always been my priority when visiting a new country. Street food is defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as “ready-to-eat foods and beverages prepared and/or sold by vendors or hawkers especially in the streets and other similar places” (WHO 2019). It provides a source of food that is often rich in nutrients, affordable and has a distinctive taste due to the individual experience of the cook.

Vietnamese food is part of my cultural heritage

Street food represents a typical culinary culture of each region and country. I grew up with Vietnamese street food since it was so common, and I got so close exposure to Vietnamese culture that shaped a specific and important cultural identity in me. Vietnamese street food is interestingly diverse but still carries a strong Vietnamese taste, as if it carries our distinct patriotism. It’s convenient for anyone to grab anywhere – just like “pragmatic Vietnamese”, but it takes time to be cooked and processed deliciously, which reflects our industriousness.

Thus, for me, street food is one of the best approaches to discover the root of a culture since I believe that street food is made from every single basic and authentic ingredient from the region without any transformation or novelty. A bowl of phở on the street is always more soulful than an expensive bowl of phở in a fine dining restaurant, because there is an atmosphere which is a combination of the sound of the street, the traffic, the voice of local cooks, and there is a strong Vietnamese streets’ scent in it. In Vietnam, bánh mì is famous all over the world with a variety of different fillings. Even though it’s the same bread with “baguette” or “sandwich”, the world still  calls it bánh mì like a Vietnamese, and celebrates bánh mì day on 24 March 2020 since they appreciate this specially local dishes – because of the the taste, the ingredients, the street style and local people.

Street food in Finland?

In Finland, from my point of view, “street food” is not usually served on the street, but in shops or in food court, or “kauppahalli” – market hall. I have various chances to try Finnish traditional food such as salmon soup, bread cheese (leipäjuusto), Finnish pancake in real food stalls, but mostly in summer only. By far, my experience is not so much as a local person, but as a “temporary tourist”, they are very mild, fresh, and natural since all the ingredients are seasonal and from natural resources: water and forest.

In the respect of tourism, even though Finland is more well-known for its breathtaking landscape, lively wildlife of reindeer, moose, birds and interesting stories about Santa Claus, Finnish cuisine should gain better attention from tourists. What I am highly appreciate from Finnish cuisine is the food safety which is still not prioritized in my country. Finnish are really responsible and thoughtful when they focus on food hygiene and safety for the health of consumers, and also on the environmental sanitation as they have a high awareness of environment protection and preservation, both urban, rural or natural areas. There is still little understanding of food safety and hygienic conditions from most local Vietnamese food vendors, and when selling on the street, it is easy to cause food and drink to be contaminated, which is a great risk besides wonderful experience that street food brings.

As the results, I hope that there will be more participation from the local authority and professionals to solve these issues but still maintains this local significance. It is necessary to plan and organize restaurants that focus on separate areas or streets dedicated to street food. At the same time, there should be strict censorship of food hygiene and safety, price management, safety for tourists, and preservation of the surrounding environment.

Text: Ngan Nguyen Thai Thanh
Pictures: Pixabay

World Health Organization, 2019. FEEDcities—A Comprehensive Characterization of the Street Food Environment in Cities. Project Protocol.

Feeling blue – Mental well-being from blue spaces

On the course Well-being from Blue Spaces, we learned about various aspects of themes related to the course name. The most interesting thing I came across with during the course was mental well-being from blue spaces and I wanted to research it a bit more. Caring for mental well-being is an integral part of life as a student, as a healthy mind learns best, and I wanted to reflect the theme in my place of study, the city of Pori.

When you think of water, what sensations arise within you?

We know that spending time in nature promotes well-being in many different ways, for example, it relieves stress, soothes the body and mind, and increases satisfaction. Studies show that nature improves perceived health (status), enhances social cohesion, and supports physical activity. You can certainly get the same benefits from spending time by the water. For example, many Finns go to the water on their holiday and feel happy there, whether it is a summer cottage on the lake or a beach holiday in the sun.

People living near the coastal areas are happier and healthier

However, the health benefits of so-called blue spaces have been studied relatively little so far, but the studies show that people living near the coastal areas are happier and healthier. The closer the blue spaces are to home, the more they strengthen the well-being of the residents. It is important to preserve the opportunity for Finns to experience the health benefits of nature and water through good urban planning and the protection of nearby nature, especially due to the densification of residential areas and increasingly technical way of life.

The city of Pori provides a favorable setting for an urban blue space, the central park Kirjurinluoto, by the river Kokemäenjoki, in the heart of the city. In addition to being a relaxing oasis in the middle of the city, Kirjurinluoto provides great facilities for recreational activities, such as swimming, beach volley and disc golf, as well as walking, running and cycling on natural trails and routes.

Just a short drive away from the city center, is another charming and peaceful place to feel good, Meri-Pori. The revitalizing maritime area is best known for the endless sandy beach, Yyteri – one of the longest beaches in the Nordic countries.

Many find just viewing the sea a calming experience. After all, the positive associations with mental well-being seem more pronounced in the coastal blue spaces than in urban waters.

Get your good mood from the blue!

Text and pictures: Julia Alankoja, third year International Tourism Management student

Kielikurssilla Miami Beachilla

Paras ja mieleenpainuvin matkamuistoni on, kun lähdin kielikurssille Floridaan vuonna 2020. Kielikurssin järjestäjänä toimi EF eli Education First järjestö. Lähdin reissuun yksin ja olin siellä yhteensä reilut viisi viikkoa – alun perin suunnitelmissani oli olla kolme viikkoa, mutta viihdyin siellä niin hyvin, että halusin jäädä vielä pidemmäksi aikaa! Kurssia sai helposti pidennettyä paikan päällä, mutta lentojen vaihto oli hieman haastavampi osuus.

Vietin vuonna 2020 välivuotta ja minulla oli töiden puolesta mahdollisuus lähteä reissuun. Vuoden 2019 lokakuussa sain idean reissuun lähtemisestä ja tiesin, että en tulisi saamaan ystävää mukaan ajankohtana, jona olin lähdössä, jolloin sain päähäni varata kielikurssin. Kohteeksi valikoitui Miami Beach, sillä olin käynyt siellä siskoni kanssa vuonna 2019 toukokuussa. Syy mikä sai minut palaamaan samaan paikkaan, oli se, että tykästyin kohteeseen ja halusin nähdä vielä lisää.

Kielikurssia varatessani minulla ei ollut tietoakaan tulevasta koronapandemiasta ja reissuun lähdin tammikuun ensimmäisinä päivinä vuonna 2020. Ollessani Miamissa sain tietää koronasta, mutta se ei vielä vaikuttanut päivittäiseen elämään siellä. Tulin takaisin Suomeen helmikuun puolessa välissä, joka oli täydellinen ajankohta ennen kuin korona alkoi vaikuttamaan elämiseen.

Ennen matkaa pelkäsin, ettei kielitaitoni riittäisi olemaan yksin reissussa, mutta selvisin hyvin kaikista tilanteista. Koululla tehtiin heti ensimmäisenä päivänä kielitasotesti, jonka perusteella meidät jaettiin ryhmiin oman osaamisen perusteella. Olin aikaisemmin todella epävarma englannin kielen puhumisesta, mutta kurssi auttoi ja rohkaisi todella paljon.

Majoituin koululla neljän hengen huoneissa koko kurssin ajan.  Kokemukseni kielikurssista oli mahtava ja voisin suositella sitä jokaiselle, jolla on ollut epävarmuutta omasta kielitaidosta. Huonoja puolia kurssissa oli sen erittäin kallis hinta. Mielestäni se oli kuitenkin loppupeleissä kaiken rahan arvoinen.

Sain paljon uusia ystäviä ympäri maailmaa, joiden kanssa olen vielä tänä päivänäkin yhteydessä. Tutustuin myös paikallisiin ihmisiin, joiden takia kokemus oli vielä parempi, sillä he osasivat näyttää paikkaa muutenkin kuin turistin silmin. Vapaa-aikaa koulussa oli paljon, sillä päivät kestivät pääsääntöisesti 6 tuntia ja illat ja viikonloput olivat vapaata.

Yksi mieleenpainuvimmista asioista reissullani oli, kun helmikuun 2020 alussa Miamissa järjestettiin Super Bowl -ottelu, joka toi kaupunkiin paljon tapahtumia ja klubikeikkoja koko viikon ajaksi. Tapahtuma näkyi Miamissa todellakin kaikkialla ja siitä puhuttiin koko viikon. Menin myös itse kavereiden kanssa katsomaan Super Bowl -peliä Ocean Drivelle, jonne oli järjestetty useita paikkoja, josta sitä pystyi katsomaan.  

Teksti ja kuvat: Sanni Laiho, ensimmäisen vuoden Matkailuliiketoiminnan opiskelija