Study Abroad  Finland

Two Worlds United Programs in Finland for High School students

Finland is a land of dualities, of wilderness and urbanity, primitiveness and sophistication, melancholy and joy. Although the Finns have created some of the most beautiful and elegant home designs, no one loves nature more than they do. The Finns will drop the trappings of civilization to run for the hills; they will leave the warmth of the sauna to plunge into the icy sea; they will spend the day skiing across rugged terrain in the coldest and darkest of weather, then come into town to dance the night away at a local nightclub.

This duality is apparent in other areas too. For years, the extremely difficult Finnish language was considered the language of peasants, scorned by the Swedes and Swedish-speaking Finns. Now Finnish and Swedish co-exist, with street signs in both (the Finnish version appears first), and towns are often referred to by both their Finnish and Swedish names.

In the matter of food, as well, Finland offers two distinct cuisines. There is, so to speak, a fork in the road to the kitchen, with attention given to Russian as well as Finnish cuisine. And in matters of religion, Finland again has something of a split personality. The state religion is Lutheran, and a portion of every citizen's taxes goes to the church; and yet the Finns rarely attend service in their beautiful old wooden churches. The most religious Finns seem to be the Greek Orthodox, who worship in churches that were built by Russian soldiers during the time when Finland was a Grand Duchy of Russia.

It is said that the Finns are a silent people, and many Finns, on first meeting, do appear somewhat reticent and shy—but once they have crossed the barrier of introductions and the usual polite exchanges, they are not in the least tongue-tied. In fact, these feisty residents of the fifth largest country in Europe have had to speak up loudly and clearly to retain their own identity and gain their independence. Having clawed its way out of the grasp of both Sweden and the czars, in the late 20th century Finland has proven itself the equal of any nation—savvy in business, skillful in politics, and creative in design. No longer do people speak of "little Finland." The only country to pay off its war debt, Finland has emerged from centuries of struggle with pride in its own accomplishments and identity.

Admissions Dep't.
Tel: 1 (805) 581-9191
Fax: 1 (805) 581-6079

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