One of the biggest exchange student event organized by ESN is probably the Lapland trip. Unfortunately, it has a definite number of places and it fills up very quickly. Most of the people living in the Dorm didn’t have a chance to subscribe to the ESN trip so they decided to make their own. We booked the trip online altogether in order to have the same information and planned the rest of the trip. We were 11 friends going to Saariselkä in the North of Lapland and we were divided in two cottages.
We had to take the train from Turku to Tampere and then the Traveling Agency sent a bus to pick us up in Tampere to bring us to our destination. The trip was long and we did many stops in order to give the driver a break but also to visit the Ice castle of Kemi and Santa Claus’ Village. When we finally arrived at our cottage we were drained of energy, but we still took the time to do a quick trip to the sauna before going to sleep. The next day, everyone went to the ski resort while I stayed at the cottage to work and go shopping. In one of the shops, I met a man that showed me various Sàmi music bands and styles. Then we talked about the similarities between Canada and Finland, the Sàmi culture and the Native Americans’, the language discrimination in the 60s and the temperatures of Lapland, which is the same as where I was born and raised. It was really interesting and enriching.
The other days where full of events, we went to a reindeer farm and learned a bit about Sàmi culture and went dog sledging at a husky farm. The husky farm is an amazing experience and the mentors where awesome. Every night of our trip, after the events and dinner, we would go to the sauna and go to the top of the mountain to see the northern lights. The first night we couldn’t see anything. The second, we saw what looked like a ‘’dancing city light’’ and the third night we finally saw the full green light in the sky. We returned home and went to the sauna, and then someone going to the snow shouted to come out. We could see the northern lights clearly from the cottage, in the middle of the village.
Then the last event we had planned was the Norway trip. Most of it was a bus ride, but the landscapes are so beautiful, changing and enchanting that I didn’t sleep. I looked outside my window all the time. Then in Bugøynes, a small village of fishermans, we ate fish soup and listened to a presentation on the village’s history. Some people went to the sauna and then dipped in the Arctic Ocean while others were visiting the village.
Overall, the Lapland trip is an amazing experience that everyone going to Finland should try. Everything seems rushed since there is a strict schedule, but you get to see so many things at the end of the day you are extenuated. You might think it is really pricy when you register and pay for the whole trip. Afterwards though, when you think back of everything you saw and experienced there, it has no price.
Text and photo: Marie-Pier Bérubé