Pyhätunturi is located around 100km north from Rovaniemi, and it was approximately 2 hours to drive up there. The purpose of the excursion was for the students from the Arctic Studies Program to learn about the local culture, business activities and other resources in the area. The programme for the two day excursion was tightly scheduled and well organized.

A lecture was given at the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, which is a department of University of Oulu. September last year the Sodankylä Geophysical Observation became 100 years old. At the Geophysical Observatory, they perform continuous measurements of the earth’s magnetic field cosmic radio noise, seismic activities, and cosmic rays. The measurements run in 19 different locations, the most southern part of Finland is near Helsinki and northern part is Svalbard, Norway. The lecturer, who works at the Observatory, Ulich, from Germany, arrived in Rovaniemi In 1993 as an exchange student. He did a presentation on how light works, especially northern lights, which commonly are what tourists.

After showing various astonishing photographed examples of light, lunch was served in the area; salmon and potato soup, along with one of the Finnish dessert, lingberry porridge.

Thereafter, the culture centre, Naava, was visited, and a 5km hike went through the protected national park, Pyhä-Luosto. The end of the hike featured a break by “Laavu” where sausages were barbequed on the camp fire. Shortly after the walk led to the accommodation for the night, Luppo, where coincidentally, salmon and potato soup, was served for dinner.

The second day the first destination was, Suvanto Village, one of the remaining villages from the 17th century which was not destroyed during the Second World War.  A traditional farmhouse was visited. Whilst enjoying homemade Kampanisu, traditional Lapland bread, with coffee, she told anecdotes and facts about the village, in Finnish. She was interpreted by the excursion leaders from University of Lapland.

After a walk through the beautiful village of Suvanto, the last stop was at Kopara, the Reindeer Farm, where the students got the opportunity of feeding reindeers, and eating reindeer meat soup for lunch. The Arctic Husky farm, located next to the Reindeer Farm, was visited as well.

At the end of the excursion, the trip included several beautiful sights, as well as cultural experiences, enabling a great insight into the culture of the arctic area of Finland.

Quite diverse nationalities participated in the excursion; Eight Germans, four Finns, three French and Japanese, two Chinese, Spanish and Hungarians, one from Canada, USA, Belgium, Netherlands, Russia, Lithuania and Switzerland participated. Some of the student experiences were collected for this article.

Barbara from Switzerland about the excursion:

“In two days we got to know at least four completely different sides of the arctic region. We were able to enjoy impressive landscapes and Finnish meals. I will for sure go back there one day, alone, so I can see shy arctic animals.”

Anneke from Germany about the excursion:

“It was a good opportunity to get to know the other students better and explore a different region. The landscape in the national park is amazing and the autumn-like forest was bright and colourful. We were lucky as it was not too cold yet, so we could enjoy the view.There was also enough room for downtime and talking and we could use the sauna in the evening.”

Maxime from Canada about his experience:

"I joined the arctic studies program at University of Lapland in Rovaniemi because an arctic studies department is being developped in my home town, Winnipeg, and I have intentions of being a part of it. The Arctic regions are culturally rich and diverse places full of minerals and most importantly, sea ice. I want to help preserve and improve the way we view the arctic today. The field trip was an oportunity to experience the Arctic. We learned about the Sami, who have a remarkable reindeer hearding technique and a tragic story about the various wars that happened in their territories, as well as Lapland's flora, fauna and the effect of the ice age on it's topography. It was very pleasent learning about the famous saunas that the Finn's are so fond of. The field trip was a great way to start the program, I got to learn about the arctic in an interactive way and got to know all of the fellow students."

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Below are some of the photos from the excursion.

Photographer: Kouri Veli.