Hello again! I’ve had a really eventful week and I’m so excited to share it all. On Sunday, June 24, I left for my long Study Tour to Sweden and Finland; and oh, what a beautiful journey it was! We were a mixed group of 24 students from Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Urban Design Studios at DIS. It was an opportunity for all of us to experience national and regional cultures in Europe, and let it enhance our individual design philosophies.
We started off early at 7 am on Sunday and took a short ferry ride across to Sweden. We had a huge bus, and our driver, Erwin, was a jolly Dane and a great host. Our tour faculty member was Birgitte Borup, or as she is fondly known as, BB.
Our first destination was Stockholm, which we explored on foot. My favorite place we visited was the Stadsbiblioteket, or the Stockholm Public Library, designed by Gunnar Asplund. A treat to the eyes of any book lover! Another favorite was Gamla Stan, which is part of the old town of Stockholm. Narrow winding streets, medieval buildings, quaint corners, it was simply fascinating.
A day later, we took the Viking Line Cruise from Sweden to Finland. We had a blast on the way, with the never-ending buffet and the fact that we danced till the wee hours of the morning. Up on the ship deck, it was surreal to see the moon and darkness on one side, and bright daylight on the other! Never before have I witnessed such a phenomenon.
After visiting the city of Turku, we journeyed a little way up to the north of Finland to the city of Jyvaskyla. It is famous for the University building campus designed by Alvar Aalto, and also has the Alvar Aalto Museum. Architecture at its purest and best! Our final stop was Helsinki, and it is a dream city for any design student. The city exudes both old world charm as well as proudly shows off its admiration for Alvar Aalto’s work. The Design District of Helsinki is a must-visit, so are the famous design shops such as Artek and Iittala which have furniture, lighting, and accessories designed by Finnish masters.
However, the most extraordinary experience had to be the traditional Finnish Sauna. It usually consists of several wooden huts set in the most picturesque setting. The sauna is pre-heated around 3 hours before, and then you sit in your bathing suits inside the hut. The combination of heated coal and stones, enhanced by the use of boiling water creates an extremely cozy environment, almost meditative in nature. The idea is to sweat it out in the sauna, then come out and take a jump into the most refreshingly cold water of the river. This process is to be repeated as many times as you wish, and it is definitely addictive. Not to mention the amazingly smooth baby-like skin you get as a bonus afterward. A truly incredible feeling and an encounter to be had at least once in a lifetime!
In every city that we visited, we got to imbibe the culture and also try the local food specialties. As an Interior Architecture student, I loved how nature was interwoven and formed an integral part of every space. We visited a huge variety of famous architecture, from churches to huge housing estates, and it was an enriching learning experience. We each had a sketchbook and we illustrated at each site what interested us the most. Since we were students from different disciplines, when we had our final journal review, it was engaging to see how each person sketched and observed different parts of every space and structure.
A week passed by in a blur, and before I knew it, I was back in Denmark, with my heart full of memories and laughter. I met so many new people on this tour, and I’m glad that in such a short time, we learned so much about each other. Hats off to BB who made the entire tour so much more delightful, be it with her insights on the architecture or her infectious laughter. On a personal front, it was heart-warming to see everyone making efforts to bond, and I managed to be a lot more outgoing than I usually am, so I count it as a success!
That’s the funny thing about trips isn’t it, by the end of it, it’s almost like you are a little family!