As someone who is obsessed with the mother nature, I recently realized I am slowly turning into a scheduled machine always doing things as pre-planned again and again. Nowadays our lives are always busy with something, so we do not have time to live our lives. We have responsibilities, work, studies, and many other things to take care of without even realizing the time is always ticking and we can not take back the time that has gone already.
As someone who came from the other side of the world to Finland, I find it as precious place to be in. The nature, the weather, the people, the culture – specially I cannot forget about the northern winter and aurora borealis. I believe the mother nature is amazing and unique in everywhere in the world, but we humans are yet to realize the real value of it.
The well-being of humans is one of the trending topics in modern world. Unfortunately, most people, including myself, are struggling to find the real happiness in the offline life. We are stuck in an online trap. We have already a very busy life due to our other things, but when you think about what is happening now is we are using our last free moments to maintain a fake life in social media. We are almost forgetting that we have a real life out there.
To change this from happening or continuing, we just have to take at least one step. So, I took my step. I found my passion. Now whenever I have the possibility or the opportunity, I always go offline for the well-being of myself. I highly encourage other to find their own passion and be close to the nature.
Finally, I believe that we are a product of the nature, but us humans have disconnected way too much from the nature, which is why we have so many problems. If we all are willing to treat the earth as it should be, it will also treat us as it should.
Text and pictures: Buddhi Panambarage, third year International Tourism Management student
Hey everyone, I am Timo Beke. Although I have a Finnish name, I am actually from Belgium. I am an exchange student here in Finland for one semester. I am here to study international tourism. In this blog post I will talk to you briefly about my choice for Finland and my time here, but most of all I will talk about how I chose which courses to study. Choosing the right (interesting) courses can make or break your exchange. I had some difficulties with it so that is why I am writing this post.
My experience – well being on Erasmus
When I arrived in Finland on the I forgot why I wanted to be here. It didn’t look like what I thought it would, and Pori was a lot smaller then I had imagined. After a week of being very unhappy and missing everyone at home I wanted to make a change. I thought of what I usually do when I leave home for long periods of time and how I make sure I feel good then.
I realized that I hadn’t been doing any of the things I usually do, probably because of the freezing cold weather and the fact that I hadn’t met anyone yet. Usually I go exploring a lot, I like to be around water, and look at the animals that come and go to drink or to swim. I also do a lot of photography and that has a calming effect on me as well.
I decided to start doing more of the things that I usually do, and I immediately started feeling better. I met some people who also like to go out in nature and I found out how to get to the beach. I was so happy to be back near the sea and hear the familiar sounds of the waves and the birds.
It is important to keep doing the things you do at home to feel well on exchange. It doesn’t matter what you like to do, if you like to do yoga, work out, play football or go birdwatching go swimming try to get in touch with like minded people (the local tourism office can help you!).
Selecting your courses – how to choose?
Usually when you go on an exchange that isn’t a full year you get to choose your own courses. This can be quite overwhelming, because, well you don’t know what the courses are about.
To help you make your choice most of the courses have a short description to tell you what they are about. It is important to read those, because there are some things you should look out for
Look at the number of ECTS credits! And ask if there are mandatory courses.
Try to pick courses that are on campus rather then online. As an exchange student school is the easiest way to meet like minded people from the same age. Online courses or self study courses don’t give you the chance to meet people.
Don’t chose the same courses you studied at your home university. It looks like an easy way to pass, but in my experience you either get really bored or confused (or a combination).
Choose courses in your study field, don’t enroll in a wood working class if you are a physiotherapy student (obviously).
Pick something weird or unusual (more on that later)!
With these 5 tips you should be able to pick the perfect courses to make your Erasmus as interesting as possible. The selection can be stressful, but remember that all exchange students go through this and maybe one of your friends can help you. And finally, if you did make a choice you regret, most schools are okay with changes. As an Erasmus student you represent their institution when you go back home, you can get away with way more then regular students if you just ask 😉
Picking something weird – courses you have never heard about
I believe everyone who is going on an exchange should try to pick one weird course. What do you mean with a weird course, you might ask?
I mean, pick a course that you have never seen or heard of before. When you go on exchange the chances are high that you will see courses that you would never see at your home university. All cultures are different and the culture of the place you are going to might influence some of their courses.
My weird choice was the course I am writing this blog post for, “”Well-being from Blue Spaces”. When I saw this I thought what the **** is this! I wondered what it could be and it got me interested enough to read the course description. After I read the course description I still wasn’t sure what it would be.
At first I thought is was going to be all about the ocean and the sea and the positive effects they have on people, and about how we can use them in tourism. This was mostly what the course was about, but a lot of it was also about the wellness culture in Finland. Saunas and ice baths really have a big influence here and I really noticed that in this course.
I am not a wellness type of person and I had taken one sauna before I came to Finland, and I said I would never do it again. This course convinced me to try it again and it was a pleasant surprise. I am still not a wellness person and I was purely going to do this course to learn about typical Finnish traditions and how they impact the Finnish view on tourism.
However, at the end of the course we had to make an assignment about food tourism, another topic I had never heard about. It was another pleasant surprise and I really enjoyed working on that topic. It was something I wouldn’t have discovered without doing this “weird” course, but I am really happy I did.
This example just shows it is good to pick something you normally wouldn’t, you might discover something you like! I hope you got something from this for your own Erasmus, and if you want to see more of my travel adventures you can check it out on https://www.instagram.com/travel_photography_timo/ .
Before I started to study International Tourism Management, my idea about wellness tourism was somewhat narrow and one-sided. When someone said wellness, I immediately thought about nice-looking young adults showing off their healthy lifestyle on Instagram, posting photos of their bleached teeth smiles, yoga poses and superfood smoothies, or intense fitness bootcamp routines. I thought that it was just another short-lived trend that would die away within a year or two, becoming so mainstream that people would just stop caring about it.
Seeing it merely as a superficial social media trend, I felt that wellness tourism was not my cup of tea, that my interests as a traveler were something else entirely, and that I would never become a wellness tourist myself.
However, the definition of a wellness traveler is much more flexible than I had thought. Whereas the primary wellness tourist category may indeed include some hard-core and very eco-conscious practitioners of yoga and meditation, who travel solely to improve their physical and mental well-being, the secondary wellness tourist category is much more inclusive and less constraining.
Basically, any traveler who takes part into wellness activity during their trip can be categorized as a secondary wellness tourist, which means that wellness is not the reason they decided to travel, but they might be interested in going to a local gym, spa or some other wellness facility during their trip. Now that was something less absolute that I could also relate to.
Reflecting on my past as a traveler, I suddenly started to see several occasions where I had embarked on an unplanned wellness activity during my trip. As going to a spa is among the oldest and the most universal wellness activities, coming across the mention of Japanese onsens and super sentos in the Well-being from Blue Spaces course materials made me reminiscence my trip to Kyushu in 2019.
My wellness tourism experience in Japan
In the summer of 2019, I stayed in the city of Oita and visited its neighboring town Beppu by bicycle. Ironically, although Beppu is perhaps the best known onsen destination in Japan, I had no time to try any of their hot spring baths because of my tight schedule, having to return the rental bike to Oita by the same evening.
Instead, after returning from the 40-kilometer bike tour, covered in sweat and many layers of sunscreen, I thought of skipping the idea of having a shower in my cramped business hotel bathroom and went to the local train station which housed a large department store, a cinema and a hotel with a spa. City Spa Tenku was located high above the street level, with two floors of bathing space, allowing a panoramic view of the city from the upper bath area. Going there really enhanced my experience, helping my body to recover from all the biking and walking I had done that day.
While I was sitting in a pool filled with warm, carbonated water, watching a layer of small bubbles form on my legs, I felt total relaxation after the day spent outdoors under the scorching sun. After standing up and leaving the pool, I gazed over the nightly city through large panoramic windows, completely nude and refreshed.
Having consumed plenty of manga stories and films about organized crime in Japan, I could kind of imagine some yakuza boss to stand at that very same place, a large tattoo in his back, making plans to expand his territory even further – of course, considering the anti-tattoo policy of most spas in Japan, a scene like that would probably not take place in real life. Still, the majesty of the setting really screamed for a camera and a tripod, even though any photography was, for obvious reasons, prohibited in the bathing area.
Considering all the exercise I got during the day, I felt that one cold beer at the spa bar would be just what I needed after washing and getting dressed up.
So, after that game-changing spa experience, I would now proudly and without any doubt categorize myself as a secondary wellness traveler.
*Disclaimer: This blog post was produced without any sponsorship or financial support from City Spa Tenku*
Text and photos: Olli Riihimäki, third year International Tourism Management student
Have you ever wondered why it feels relaxing to go and have a walk on the beach or what is so spiritual about being alone in or on the sea?
From walking next to the famous canals of Amsterdam, to swimming in the sea and being on a cruise, blue spaces work really calming for me. As a person that has always lived near beautiful beaches and the sea, I have huge interest for blue spaces. I have always been attracted to coastal destinations and the mental impacts that sea has us to offer.
When I had the opportunity of studying the course Well-being from Blue spaces, I could not let this opportunity pass. To learn more about Blue Spaces would help me develop a lot and would give me possibilities for a future profession.
The presence of a person to water, especially the sea, is related with many positive impacts of physical and mental wellbeing, from higher levels of vitamin D to better social connections. Therefore, living near blue spaces, visiting them, or even enjoying the view has a positive effect on a human.
I think there should be more focus on ways to relieve mental stress in the future. With our world becoming busier with the day, mobile phones being an absolute must, people should be encouraged to let go of everything, and enjoy the beautiful nature. It will have a positive impact both physically and mentally.
Text: Sander Keulemans, exchange student from HZ University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands
During our online course Well-being from Blue Spaces, we got to learn about the concept of blue gym, how coastal and maritime areas can be used in well-being, and the history behind it. We also had an assignment where we got to plan a seafood tour in our home region. What I found the most interesting was the wellness tourism industry and how fast it has been growing for the past years.
Wellness as a general trend has been gaining popularity over the past years. It can be seen in many aspects all around us. From green juice bars in the malls to the many fitness trends that come and go. Shops providing a bigger variety of healthier food options and people making healthier choices, like cutting the usage of alcohol and sugar. This trend has naturally affected the tourism industry as well. Between the years 2015 and 2017 wellness tourism grew 6,5%. That is very significant growth when considered that regular tourism grew only 3,2% in the same time frame. (Global Wellness Institute 2018, 20.)
We live in very uncertain times. With the ongoing pandemic no one really knows the effects it will have on the tourism industry. We can only speculate and make guesses what tourism in the post-pandemic world will look like, how it will affect the trends, and what are the long-term effects that come from it. Industry specialist and researchers have made their predictions and even those have changed as the pandemic has prolonged the bans on traveling. Of course, there are no wrong or right answers really since this is very new territory for all of us. But it is fun to play with the idea and think about the future and how it will look.
Many industry specialists think that there is a very big possibility that the pandemic will make wellness tourism grow at a faster rate than now. Personally, I think that is a very possible outcome. Seeing how people are already interested in their wellbeing and health this pandemic can have the effect that it will get more heightened. The COVID-19 virus has posed a threat to everyone’s health and people may want to take a more proactive and preventative approach after the pandemic is over.
The past year has been hard on everyone. From self-isolation and quarantines, losing loved ones, the additional stress the pandemic has caused to the financial duress. We have seen and felt a lot and it has not been easy on anyone’s mental health. People will probably desire to take a vacation where they can solely focus on their mental well-being. So, I think that it is very possible that various yoga, ashram, meditation, and mindfulness retreats will get very popular.
Tourists may be keener to choose destinations and places where a healthy lifestyle is promoted or easy to keep up. Many people have started to pay more attention to their health during the pandemic. Following a new specific diet or fitness plan, they may want to keep that going even during their travel so places that offer facilities and services that cater to these needs may get an influx of customers.
The Wellness Tourism Association conducted a survey in the summer of 2020 asking about consumers’ travel plans after the pandemic. Over 4000 people answered from 48 countries. They found that 78% of the people had planned to partake in wellness tourism after the pandemic. In the end, as to how much the wellness tourism industry will grow no one knows yet and only time will tell.
Text: Milla Ruonala, third year International Tourism Management student Photos: Pixabay
How often do you think that the everyday life with all the work, studies, chores etc. is getting all too much for you? How often do you wish for an escape from your everyday life? I bet most of you answered that a break from the everyday life would be much needed as often as possible. So did I. So where should you go when you feel like the stress of the daily routines is getting too much for you? You should definitely find your way to the nearest body of water, whether it is a lake, a river or a sea does not matter, you should find your way to it. Even though you might think that a visit to a nearby shore does really not fit your busy schedule or it doesn’t sound like it would be any help to you, you’d be surprised how big of an effect it might have on your mental and physical health.
You might think that sitting on a shore and doing nothing would be a really boring way of spending your time, but it actually is one of the best ways of relaxing your brain. Just watching the water surface, whether it is calm or rough, can really help you to relax and find that much sought after peace of mind for the short time that you are next to water. Of course, our brains control all the senses of human body, and seeing is not the only thing that can help our brains to relax. Listening to the calming voice of the water as well as smelling the, lets say, ocean air can really make your brains just switch of for a second and you will be able to totally relax just from being near a body of water.
Of course just sitting and admiring the water might not be for everyone, but that is not the only way you can improve your mental and physical health when visiting a body of water. Water enables multiple different activities that are beneficial for both mind and body. Exercises and activities in general are very good for both mental and physical health, but adding the water aspect to the exercises can boost that positive effect even more. Swimming for example is not only a great form of exercise for the muscles of the body, but it also is beneficial for the health of your skin as well as it is beneficial for your mind. The sort of flowing feeling of freedom you get from swimming is ideal for your brains to relax.
Other water activities, such as surfing or wakeboarding for example, are also great ways of escaping the routine and switching of for a second, but all the activities do not have to be physical activities. Going for a boat ride or going fishing might not be a form of exercise, but those type of activities are an ideal way of relaxing. Think about it; you are flowing on the middle of a quiet lake on a boat, there is no one anywhere near and you can just enjoy the sound of nature. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
That is something that we all should seek after, make some room from our busy schedules for finding different ways of relaxing our body and mind, since without those breaks, we really can not manage.
Text: Markus Järvinen, second year International Tourism Management student Pictures: Unsplash
When you think about holiday, about booking a trip, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? For most of the people nowadays, including me, it means that I will have some fun, visit places, make memories like photos and videos, and forget about work and stress that are present in my life. However, it is not always like that because many travelers come back from their holidays more tired than when they left, wishing for a new holiday.
Why this happens?
We have a misconception that we need to make the most out of our trips, like for example taking long tours that exhaust us, visiting all the places in a destination, and in general overwhelming ourselves by busy schedules, often forgetting about rest and relaxation.
I don’t need to mention the technology and social media platforms that takes a lot of our time even when we are on a holiday. It is very trendy nowadays to share every small thing that happens on our trips on Instagram or Facebook, and we forget that snapping our meals, taking 99 selfies or paying attention to our edits takes time and we end up participating in our activities less then we think, reducing our quality time by stalking the phone.
What can we do about it?
Many studies explain why vacations help us get rid of the stress and increase our sense of well-being. Of course, if we consider well-being when we book our holiday, the first step that we can do is to appreciate the vacation and its meaning.
It is definitely a great idea to visit many places and take many photos, but this can be made by keeping in mind that we just can’t be present in every point on the map. In conclusion, a good solution is to start by reducing the number of visits to those attractions that we are interested in. Getting enough sleep during our holiday is also important to recharge our batteries and planning a lazy day is a great idea. If we are rested when we come back, it will help us to be motivated and perform better in our lives and work. Some people set their flights back on the day before their work starts and it’s always a good idea to put a gap between, like one day to settle in and catch up with the day-to-day routine. (Website of Life Hack, 2021)
A second step is to educate ourselves more on what wellness tourism means and how to get more from our holidays by paying more attention to well-being. Going on a trip doesn’t mean that we need to skip our gym sessions, or to eat and drink whatever we want without thinking on how it can affect us. Wellness retreats help travelers to nourish their bodies and mind, and boost the level of personal wellness.
Practicing yoga, taking Pilates classes or sport in any form will bring balance to our body and mind and will help us to get rid of the stress (website of Corporate Wellness magazine, 2019). Personally, I am planning my next holiday in a spa resort, where I can benefit from healthier food, massage and spa treatments and why not, a digital detox. Breaking unhealthy habits and meeting like-minded people, who have the same goal will improve our lifestyle and we can come back with a new mindset.
What is wellness tourism?
Wellness travel is a segment of the tourism industry that refers mainly to people who book their holidays in order to reduce their stress, relax and forget about day-to-day problems. Global Wellness Institute has an official definition for it: “travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing”
The economy of wellness tourism grows by approximately 6.5% every year and reached $634 billion in 2017. The increasing interest of travelers in a better and healthier lifestyle made wellness tourism to double its growth compared to the entire tourism industry.
Europeans present the highest interest in well-being, followed by the Asians and North Americans. Spa tourism is the leading sector representing 48% of the global wellness registering $300 billions in expenditure with over 450 million trips booked.
By 2022 it is estimated that wellness tourism will reach $919 billions in expenditure because hospitality and travel businesses try to develop new strategies daily in order to offer new services, products or experiences for the travelers. (Global Wellness Tourism Economy, 2018)
Text: Bogdan Enacica, second year International Tourism Management student
In the wellness tourism industry there is talk about so called blue spaces. What are those exactly? Well, blue spaces are referred as spaces with open water. So, trip to the coastline or riverside would be considered as visiting blue spaces. They also include ponds, springs, waterfalls and even spas.
We live in a highly modernized world with next to no connection to the nature at least in the big cities. No wonder people are stressed and unhappy all the time. Work is hectic and one can’t practise selfcare enough or do it the right way. Sure, eating or drinking your feelings is a way to manage them in a pinch but in a long run it’s only harmful to you and people around you. The last thing you should want is to be a burden to the people you love to an overly exhorted way. But stress can be hard to manage on your own, so it’s human to try to release it which ever way takes it away the fastest.
So, why don’t we experiment…
Imagine you arriving to a remote riverside in search of a way to pause your busy life. This is what you see, take a good look at the picture below.
You can see the clear blue water gently rushing by hugging the land around it. You can hear the calming song of the water as it passes you by welcoming you to its presence, inviting you to take a deep breath. You can smell the fresh water in the air with luscious forest around you.
After taking the mandatory Instagram picture you sit down and gaze at the water and maybe get curious about how cold the water is. By touching it you find out its quite chilly but pleasant. The sight, sound and smell of the environment has called you back to where you once belonged. Taking a few more deep breaths filled with fresh air, you can feel the stress melting away.
How did that make you feel?
According to studies blue spaces have a positive effect on the human psychology and wellbeing and they are linked with health and happiness. Mental health is important especially during this pandemic time and going back to nature could be one of the solutions to increase it. Being around aquatic environments has mood increasing properties such as generally being in a better mood and reducing stress and negative moods. Visibility of blue spaces have a lowering impact on psychological distress. This fact could be used in the future when planning cities or it could be a part of one’s moving criteria. The happiest people are said to be those living near a blue space, especially near the ocean.
All in all blue spaces are worth taking a look at when trying to de-stress or pause for a bit. Mental heath is an important force for people to have the strength to keep going in a world that doesn’t sleep. Remembering to take care of yourself increases happiness and peace of mind.
Text: Kia Aroautero, Tourism student from Haaga-Helia. Kia took part in SAMK’s online course Well-being from Blue Spaces via CampusOnline.