It’s mid-January already, which means that several¬†weeks have passed since my¬†internship in Finland has terminated just before Christmas. Still in this blog-entry I want to focus on my last weeks in Helsinki, and later I will add another one about how this journey will continue.

Christmas in Chicago

ALA Architects has the awesome tradition to take their whole team on a christmas-excursion every December. This time, they chose no other city than Chicago for this and we interns were lucky to be invited too!

DAY 1:

We arrived around noon and had the rest of the day for us. We enjoyed the fantastic sunset-view from the John-Hancock-Center and had a nice evening walk.

pictures of day 1

DAY 2:

The day started early and we had a full program ahead: A walking tour around the city with¬†over 50 sights to visit, including Mies’ Lake Shore Drive Apartments, the Poetry Foundation, the Cloud Gate and Gehry’s pavilion next to it, the Aqua Tower, the Art Institute of Chicago by Renzo Piano and so much more. In between the group separated several times, people got lost constantly and were found again later. Arriving at the Willis Tower as final stop, we were all exhausted, but happy.

pictures of day 2

DAY 3:

This day a bus helped us rest our feet. We visited the legendary Farnsworth House and theIllinois Institute of Technology with buildings from Mies van der Rohe as well as Rem Koolhaas. In the evening we had a delicious christmas dinner and afterwards went for a beer with the whole crew.

pictures of day 3

DAY 4:

Before heading home, we had free-time in the morning of the last day, which I used to shop some presents and send postcards. It started snowing, which perfectly added the christmas atmosphere to the trip.


Christmas in Helsinki

Christmas-time in Helsinki was very busy for me. We worked on a competition for a sports complex and I believe that we ended up with a quite interesting concept. But as competitions always are, we didn’t really have much free-time. I even had a friend visiting me, but could rarely see her. My last day in the office was the day of turning in the competition. We managed to get it printed and sent in the last second.¬†Two days later I had to leave Helsinki already.


Christmas in Germany

I hope you all had nice holidays! I spent Christmas, New Year and my birthday with my family and friends back in Germany, where I currently still am. But soon the journey will continue…


I can hardly believe it! I arrived here the 8th of August, so by today 3 months passed by¬†already… 3 MONTHS! Last Friday would have been my last workday, but I am lucky that I got offered to stay until Christmas, which I will do.

(Once again) it’s been quite a while since my last post on here, so I guess it’s time for a little update (Hopefully I will find the time to add photos to some of the stories¬†soon):

I got visited!

It was a pleasure for me (and this might have been the main reason for the long posting-drought) that some of my friends and my family decided to visit me. We had great times together and I think I am officialy a Helsinki sightseeing-expert now. I still love this city and I highly recommend a visit here!

I lived the “Finnish Dream”!

I don’t know if it is the Finn’s dream, but it’s definitely the dream that everybody has about Finland: For a weekend a friend and I rented a tiny timber cabin right next to the Baltic Sea!¬†We enjoyed our personal¬†sauna heated by a fire that we made on our own, jumped into the freezing cold water together, roasted¬†salmon on a barbecue enjoying the sunset, kayaked to an island¬†and had a biking trip… Do I need to say anthing more?

I went hiking!

In¬†Finnish there actually is a word for the period in which the leaves turn red: “Ruska” (and No!¬†That is not just called fall! Fall is a season,¬†ruska is a period in nature… Look it up!). Obviously this time is most-enjoyable in the forest. And this is why a couple of colleagues and I went hiking together to the “Nuuksio National Park” close to Helsinki – beautiful!

I’ve been to more saunas!

Additional to the personal one in the cabin, I’ve been to another public one. Still I feel like I hardly partake in this part of the finnish culture… Which is a pity, especially because – unlike my expectations – I really enjoy going to a sauna. I need to do it more often!

Seasons have changed… aka: THERE IS SNOW!

Whereas¬†ruska hardly had started while I wrote the last article here, overwhelmingly fast we already moved on to winter. And by winter I mean real, serious winter!¬†With¬†sub-zero temperatures and snow – lots and lots of snow that actually stays! Not that this would stop any Finn from biking to work or from running outside…


Hopefully not another season will change before I write my next article here. And – as the end of this experience quickly comes closer – I wish that by that time I will already have a closer idea about where I will continue my journey. Till then and “Moi Moi”!


So much time has passed¬†since my last post here, yet it felt like only a minute! Although another architectural competition has consumed way too much of my lifetime (sounds¬†like a complaint¬†when actually I enjoy it – it’s the purest form of architecture), I was able to get all the finnish feeling in my freetime:

Eating Reindeer Meat:

Although I tried it on a Finnland-Trip before, it still feeled like a new experience having it in an original finnish restaurant, deliciously prepared and in a reasonable amount this time (contrary to last year).  It was very tasty!

Reindeer Meat

Sauna-ing (is this even a word?):

I actually feel bad that until now I managed to go to a sauna ONLY ONCE! Fortunately it was at the Uimahalli – a marvellous public swimming hall from 1928. And it has 5 saunas (wood, steam, infra-red and two electric ones) – absolutely recommendable!


Discovering Design:

Scandinavia (and Finland*) are known for being far ahead considering design objects. No wonder that the “Helsinki Design Week” was well attended – also by me. Design Market, Design Fare, “Showroom Walk” (with delicious appetizers +¬†free wine!)¬†and “Open (Architecture) Offices” were only a few of the highlights.¬†Exciting & Inspiring!

Design Market

Feeling the cold coming:

In my first weeks¬†it¬†was sunny and we had daylight until like 9pm. Though it didn’t feel like August, it was still nice (autumn-)weather.¬†Unfortunately it didn’t stay like that. Lately temperatures are sinking and days become shorter. To be honest: Thinking about winter here scares me a little!


*According to different definitions, Finland is very often¬†not counted as “scandinavian” and some Finns seem to be allergic against being called scandinavian, while others consider themselves as such.



With a little delay, here are some pictures of the trip:



Every architect or student knows how exhausting working on a competition can be. So after spending one full weekend in the office, my fellow interns and I decided to balance this with a weekend-trip to Estonia’s Capital right after turning in everything¬†on Friday.

Unfortunately that¬†last day became longer than planned¬†(as always…), so that we left the office¬†not before¬†10pm. No 10¬†hours later – at 7 in the morning – we already boarded the ferry. Though less recovered than expected, we still managed to¬†have a good time on Saturday with a full sightseeing program. Only the pub crawl madness at the end of the day (some would say “the main reason to visit Tallinn”) had to be shortened due to energy deficits. Still it was a very nice evening.

The next day started with delicious pancakes followed by an interesting walking tour. Being really lucky with the weather we even were able to wear shirts and sometimes had to search for shadowed spots! After lunch and a beer at the seaside, enjoying the great view over the bay, we already had to board the ferry to go back home.

All in all it was a great trip, highly recommendable! The only fly in the ointment (I hope people actually say this… I just looked it up) was that, coming home at 10pm, we were at least as exhausted as we’d been¬†before.