As you travel around the world, you see what kind of a life you could have elsewhere. As well as seeing fantastic places and experiences, you also get to see a snapshot of local everyday life - and form a basis of comparison for your own life back at home in Finland.
I was born and have lived almost all of my life in Espoo, but I have travelled to all corners of the globe since I was a teenager. The first time, I packed my backpack straight after finishing my matriculation exams: I set out with my friend across Europe and Asia by train and only announced my return home once my savings had run out.
Travel, nature, adventure and sports are still my passions. I still feel the pull of foreign lands: my ambition is to climb the highest mountain of every continent. Through pursuing my goal, besides mountain climbing, I’ve also had the chance to see the world from different angles.
Although mountain climbing is more often than not a cold-weather pursuit, Finland’s long winter, with its bad weather, has many dreaming of a move to the sunny shores of paradise. Disappointment in society and in “the Finnish condition” have made me consider where I would really love to live.
Three years ago, I quit my career in order to pursue my ambition. But this is what happened: the “paradises” that I have seen on my travels have only made me appreciate my hometown more than ever before.
My latest travels took me to the Indonesian island of Papua. The trip gave me a startling reminder of how good we have it here in Finland. In many places, the unique beauty of the island was hidden under the rubbish left by people. The area is home to the world’s largest and most lucrative goldmine, which governs all of the local administration and infrastructure. However, you do not see any of this wealth trickle down to the local streets, as the people live on the poverty line and the wildlife of the rainforest struggles for survival as its natural habitat is steadily destroyed.
For me, the trip to Papua was a stark reminder of how lucky we are to be living in Finland and in a city such as Espoo.
It is around now, on the verge of summer, that Finland’s nature shows off its finest aspects. However, the opportunity to enjoy nature and our otherwise comfortable environment should not be taken for granted. We must continue to take good care of our city!
The writer is a mountain climber and entrepreneur, and lives in Koukkuniemi. Read more about Carina at www.carinaraiha.com