I had no intention to study tourism. Especially not in Pori…

I didn’t have any intentions to study tourism. Especially not in Pori. I applied to study law at the University of Helsinki multiple times but eventually just gave up.

I always had a passion for travelling. My parents loved camping with a caravan and the summers were spent driving around Eastern Europe in countries such as Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. I always wished my family would be normal and do a yearly trip to the Canary Island or something instead of visiting concentration camps in Auschwitz. As an adult I’m grateful and realize I’m extremely privileged to have visited these historical sites but when you are an angsty teenager you don’t find much amusement sitting on a car for hours and hours just to see some dusty abandoned bunker where an unnamed Nazi commander was hiding in the 1940s.

From trailer trash childhood to backpacker youth

I was thrilled when I got old enough that my parents gave me a permission to take my first solo-trip. I bought my first backpack and headed to Indonesia. I was inspired by the Finnish television program named Madventures where two Finnish fellows backpacked around the globe to the most weirdest locations and did the most shocking activities such as ate monkey brains. I didn’t eat monkeys during my travels but I got inspired by the show and visited some of the sites in their footsteps.

After my first backpacking trip I was hooked. I loved living like a nomad. I stayed in the shady hostels in grim neighborhoods and met other like-minded people mainly Europe, some which are still great friends of mine. I also met a guy I fell for. It was amazing to find someone who you can share your passion with. I never knew such interesting guys existed. We did the whole Southeast Asia together. Seeing a firefly for the first time, being lost in Jakarta, sleeping outside in the hammock underneath the starry sky. After we broke up I kept on travelling by myself and with friends but I opted for safer locations. It isn’t particularly wise to sleep in the streets in a third-world country.

Travel habits change by age

As I grew older, I began to seek different kind of experiences during my travels. I love museums, art-galleries, dining in fancy restaurants and seeing the local architecture. I enjoy quality accommodation and wouldn’t settle any longer for these dingy hostel rooms with beds full of bedbugs. I still have some of this explorer spirit inside of me which tends to lead me to strange and unusual tourist destinations such as Bosnia-Herzegovina. I love exploring unknown. I love the authenticity in the unusual tourist destinations. I love cities which have their own character and where you feel like a city is made for the locals instead of a city made to entertain the tourists. I love getting instant regret after ordering Japrak in Sarajevo and receive my coffee black even when I asked to have a latte. These instances are what makes travelling so amazing, you get to experience things which are out of your comfort zone and get a taste of life outside the bubble. Heartfelt conversations with the locals, getting lost in the city and end up finding a hidden gem, all the things mentioned previously are the reason what keeps me motivated to keep on exploring. When the plane lands in a foreign territory I feel like a heavy burden is lift out of my shoulders. After a trip I feel rejuvenated and motivated to work towards the next adventure.

I wish the hospitality education at SAMK gives me the professional knowledge and the necessary tools which I can utilize to help others experience the world. Hospitality studies were not something I had in mind but life is unpredictable. I always thought it will take the joy out of something you love if you do it as a living. I’m still enjoying tourism. I wish I could land a job which gives me opportunities to travel the world and check off my bucket list. I wish there’s life after Covid-19 and I’m still able to see the Catatumbo lightning in Venezuela and float in the Dead Sea.

Text and pictures: Liisa Kemppainen, first year International Tourism Management student