”Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman
The Adventure Education studies at HUMAK include three periods of practical training. We, the 1st year students, are almost all currently doing our first one in the Finnish Lapland since mid-November. Some of the many goals of the first internship are to improve our social skills, to learn about Lappish culture and people and to enjoy the snow and winter.
For our international students this is an amazing opportunity to spend the winter in Lapland. To me – a Finn spending all winter holidays in Lapland – this is a dream come true: working and living almost a full season in northern Finland!
My winter adventure is taking place in Levi, which is the biggest winter sports center in Finland. The surroundings of the Levi fell make all kinds of activities possible in the beautiful Finnish nature. I am doing my internship at Lapland Safaris, who offer all kinds of tours from husky and reindeer farm visits to Aurora Borealis hunting and ice fishing by snowmobiles, skis and snowshoes.
Snowmobiling through winter wonderland (Photo: Leo/ Lapland Safaris)
Just like I expected, our first week of the practical training consisted of heavy info packs on how to guide and control (big) guest groups, and we spent long active days out testing all the safaris and equipment. Mostly we have been snowmobiling around the Levi and Kittilä area, and we have been so lucky this season as there is plenty of snow this year! The sceneries have been amazing, and the training week opened the winter season perfectly.
The biggest technical skill I have learned so far is snowmobiling. It is actually a funny coincidence that I as a Finn have never done this before, as it’s almost a winter must among cross-country skiing and downhill skiing. Most of the activities at Lapland Safaris are done with snowmobiles, so it is very important to learn not only how to drive one, but also how to teach others to do it and how to solve different possible scenarios during the safaris. Getting stuck in deep snow or slush, replacing broken snowmobile drive belts, towing snowmobiles and guiding inexperienced guests are vital skills here.
I can do this! (Photo: Emma Lehto)
Group management and people skills are needed in every moment working as a guide. We are there to make sure that the guests get the best winter experience there is even if we ourselves are doing the same safari over and over again. The weather conditions can be anything from snow-melting above zero degrees to a perfect sunny winter day to a snow blizzard with almost no visibility. It’s not always easy to keep up the mood, so one has to be inventive and have plenty of good stories to tell. The biggest reward after a workday is to hear and see people smile, laugh, take photos and even hug us guides after a safari! It’s a sign that you did your best (and all that Lapland magic helps, too).
A traditional ‘kota’ for warming up after a snowmobile safari (photo: Emma Lehto)
My favorite moments have been with the Lappish traditions and mythical stories. Reindeer, the icons of Lapland, Aurora Borealis (’Revontuli’ in Finnish), the Lappish Ceremony by a shaman (’Lapin kaste’), Santa’s elves… There are millions of stories to tell about the Lappish life and even if some of these experiences might seem a bit touristic to a Finn, I still enjoy all of them. I’ve had a chance to work as an elf a couple of times already, and I am surprised to have found my very own inner elf called ’Kipinä’ (sparkle).
It’s almost ‘kaamos’ time, the polar night (photo: Emma Lehto)
This sparkle will live in me from this winter on; I have found my dream destination, and even if I might not end up being an elf or a tourist guide every winter, I am starting to find my own career path and dreams among these snowy sceneries!
– Emma –