I applied for the SIP program to Turku Finland as I felt the program (Professional Services and Productization) would help me to market my business. I studied Travel Services Management and I’m now a travel agent. So this program was a catch as providing travel advice is providing a service, and I wanted tips on how to market service. You can imagine how excited I was when I heard I got through.
Arriving in Finland I was very moody and grumpy, as I connected in New York so I was travelling for more than 24hours. But when I got on the train from the airport to Turku, I instantly relaxed. The countryside was lush and green and this calm captivated me. Being a country girl, I’m always drawn to communities rather than cities, so seeing Turku wasn’t all that built up gave me something to smile about. The train ride from Helsinki to Turku was really relaxing and provided some really good sightseeing.
In Turku, I had some problems with my pre-booked accommodation but soon found myself helped by a local. Finnish people can appear intimidating and blunt, but once a conversation is started, they really warm up. Thankfully they’re kind and helpful, so I was out of my accommodation rut in less than 5 minutes of conversation with the local. This was the beginning of many other local encounters that made my trip amazing.
At school (Turku University of Applied Sciences), the classroom discussions were so enriching. Altogether we were 12 students and 2 lecturers representing 11 countries! You can imagine the cultural exchange that took place. We bonded well. In fact, my favourite moments in Turku were all moments when we got together. Outside of school, we did social activities including dinners, museum tours, city tours, picnic, shopping, and a boat tour to Stockholm, Sweden. We also had lunch together, every day we tried a new canteen. The food was absolutely scrumptious and ridiculously cheap! With our student cards, we got lunch for as little as €2.80. A buffet meal consisting of coffee/tea and bread, salad, entree and sometimes dessert. And you’ve got choices, always 2 or 3 entree items to choose from.
Other than the super cheap student lunches, I was amazed by the transportation system. People bike/cycle all around. Whether they’re going to work, school or party, they cycle! Yes, men in tuxedos and ladies in stilettos cycle all about. Cycling is so common, cyclists have their own section of the street to cycle on and a tonne of places to park. Other than that, it’s so easy and fast to walk about (even though I got lost a bit). From where I stayed, walking to school was the same distance as taking the bus so I often walked. It was sad to leave all that behind – little to no traffic 🙂 to come back to the hustle and bustle of Toronto 😦
All in all, I had a wonderful time in Tuku. The program was amazing and I now have friends from all over. I highly recommend this program and cannot say thanks enough to Centennial for such a great opportunity.