This last week marks the half way point for our summers in Helsinki, and I can’t speak for the others, but the time has absolutely flown by for me- it feels like just yesterday I was met by Henrietta’s lovely beaming face as she picked me up from the airport 🙂 Since Felicia and Lisa have already provided an overview of our group’s experiences so far, I will focus more-so on my own.
I have two jobs in Helsinki this summer. My first job is working at Allas Sea Pool (I will try to not make this next paragraph sound like a promotional speech- I just honestly love my job). Allas is an absolutely stunning new sauna/pool/bar facility on the water; it’s located in downtown Helsinki, right next to the President’s Palace (Market Square). I work as a “Customer Service Representative”, which pretty much entails me going wherever is needed. If you stop by for a visit, you might find me in the Allas Shop (chatting up customers about our latest sunscreens and Moomin Towels), selling tickets in the Liput Booth (look how much Finnish I’m learning already), or greeting our guests and other tourists out front! My co-workers at Allas have been absolutely wonderful to me during this last month and a half; not only do they make a tremendous effort to have any conversations around me in English, so that I can follow along, but they also have invited me out several times to spend time with their families and friends, as well as to show me around. Just yesterday in fact, we had a staff party and it was really neat to all sit around at a bar together and get to know each other (managers included) in a more casual setting, outside of work. My work hours vary per week, but my preferred shifts are M-F, from 6am (yes, am)- 2pm; the mornings fly by for me, and my other “early bird” coworkers, who enjoy the sunrise shifts, are quite fun to work with. Working at Allas has been an absolute amazing experience so far, and I will be very sad to have to say goodbye to everyone in August.
For my other job, I am the social media coordinator for a unique new tourism company that has just launched- Triply. Triply offers a range of local tours that customers can book, and aims to provide a more authentic experience for people coming to Helsinki. Such tours include a “Sauna with a Finn” experience, a “Workout while sightseeing” experience (where you explore the city either walking, jogging or- for those far braver and more in shape than I- running), a “Northern Finnish” experience (where customers are taken up to Lapland to see the scenery, reindeer farms and Santa’s Workshop) and a customizable experience where customers can choose what they want to see and have one of our Tripsters (the cute little name we give our tour guides) show them around with a local’s perspective. Originally I was hired as a Tripster for the company, but the CEO wanted a social media coordinator whose native language was English, in hopes of the posts appealing more to tourists, so he offered me the job. It is a pretty sweet gig, I will not lie; I get paid a monthly sum to post one photo a day, of something, somewhere or someone in Helsinki (it can quite literally be anything, they just want me to post photos that I find interesting). This has been a fun gig, because I am essentially getting paid to explore a city I wanted to familiarize myself with anyways, and I have quite enjoyed it so far! If you’re interested in following my adventures, you can like our facebook page- Triply– or our instagram account- Triply.fi .
During my free time, though I don’t get out as much as I would like, I love scouting out new places to go in Helsinki and in the surrounding areas. My favorite place I’ve been would still have to be Allas (again, not a marketing technique, it is just a really really, really cool place to work!). And when I’ve gotten a few days off, I have also taken some side trips. Kennedy, Tian, Davin (an alum from the last Toronto group who was visiting a few weeks ago), and I went to Tallinn. I just went to Lativa last week (LOVED Riga- what a wonderfully gorgeous and cheap city), and I am going to Stockholm July 24-28. I am especially excited for my Stockholm trip because I found out my brother will randomly also be in Stockholm that week (due to him connecting through there after coming back from a music festival in Croatia) and so I will get to see him, which will be very wonderful indeed!
Anyways, long story short- I am having an unbelievably extraordinary summer here and the next four weeks will be so bittersweet, before returning home to Toronto. I am incredibly grateful for having the opportunity to come here and not only make new friends and gain international work experience, but also to explore my Finnish heritage and learn more about this beautiful country! 🙂