I was at the brink of going into debt for the rest of my life when I discovered Finland. It’s normal for students to never pay off their student loans in the states. But here I am, paying my way through college by working summers as a laid back Lappish shepherd.
During the past year I have experienced the glory of Lapland’s northern lights, Norway’s epic fjords and mountain ranges, and the relaxed and respectful silence of Finnish get-togethers.
In high school I was part of an exchange program that introduced me to many western nationalities like Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Taiwan, Canada and Mexico. But Here I have made lifelong friends with people from a completely different set of countries such as Russia, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Nepal. My invaluable connections made here have taught me a lot about the world and the memories shared here will come with me as stories to tell throughout my life.
The climate here has blown my mind. The sun seldom rises in the winter or sets in the summer, and the transition is breathtaking. The Tornio River is the biggest river in Europe that is free flowing, meaning without dams, and it freezes every year thick enough to drive planes and trucks over it.
There are many historical buildings in Tornio including the church near the dorm that dates back to 1686. There is a nice museum with all kinds of information about the native Sami people and the old traditions of fishing logging and reindeer herding.
Overall I am amazed at how much Finland and Lapland UAS has been able to offer me. Thank you Finland!
Aaron Celeste, 2nd year student, USA
Photo Credit: Petra Brestovanska