Experiencing Finland and its culture

Old buildings and roads located in Tallinn, Estonia.

On May 6, I had the opportunity to travel to Finland for a study abroad trip with a group of Weber State University students. The goal of this trip was to learn more about Finland’s culture and how to document the journey through photography and videography. We did this by traveling to multiple places around Finland and Estonia.

This was my very first time traveling to another country. I had been on a plane twice before, but going outside the U.S. was a completely different experience.

We spent the first four days in Helsinki. I was able to visit Suomenlinna Fortress, enjoy a true Finland sauna experience at Helskini’s SkySauna, experience the beautiful architecture located at the Uspenski Cathedral, enjoy a walk at Keskuspuisto (Central Park) where people can rent spaces for a local garden and lastly, went to a botanical garden called the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden.

On May 12, our group took a quick plane ride to Rovaniemi, Lapland, to stay at Santa Claus Village. It was there I got to experience Finland’s midnight sun while on a small hike at midnight on one of the many trails nearby.

One of my favorite days spent on this trip was spent in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn. The area was full of cobblestone roads and old medieval buildings. The views were a complete dream to photograph.

Tallinn brought me closer to the war in Ukraine as well. With the war between Ukraine and Russia happening so close to Estonia, as well as Estonia’s turbulent history with Russia, the people in Tallinn set up a gate in front of the Russian Embassy with objects and signs strapped onto the gate to protest the war in Ukraine.

Being so close to an actual war and not just hearing about it or seeing it on TV made the war real to me. This moment in front of the fence helped me realize why travel is so important. It’s not just about seeing the world, but understanding the world and what people are going through in it.