Nice to meet you!

I am Laura Ukkola, 23 years old and currently attending my final year studying hospitality management in Lapland University of Applied Sciences. I come originally from Oulu where I have lived my whole childhood within a town called Kiiminki, popular for its vast river with the same name.

I grew up in a house built by my father and uncle on the land my father inherited. We had  a forest surrounding the house with an addition of a small garden used mostly to grow strawberries, black currants, red  currants and raspberries. Most of the neighbors were also my relatives so I was constantly interacting with them on at least weekly basis, being closest to my uncle who looked after me on weekdays after school.

My parents were both enthusiastic about traveling due to working abroad so it was no wonder that me and my little sister got to join when we were thought to be old enough. We started with visiting cities here in Finland which had amusement parks and spas. Vaasa, Turku, Mikkeli, Tampere and Helsinki are some I can remember from the top of my head. Naturally these places were super fun for little kids and eventually we moved on to travelling abroad.

Me cosplaying on Summer 2012

I got to go to Algheiro, Sardinia when I was eleven and after that there was a trip abroad almost every year on either summer or autumn vacation. I really took into the whole multicultural world hype, becoming a little self-proclaimed food critic and deciding more often to watch documentaries with my parents. When my friend introduced me to reading Japanese comics, watching Japanese animations and playing roleplaying games a year later, I had reached a point of obsession.

Since there was not any or hardly any Finnish versions available, I was constantly practicing my English while having fun following storylines and completing game missions. At the end of my junior high, English came so naturally to me that I ended up picking an international high school and got in. There I got even more into cultures with both Finnish and English classes concentrating on literature, reading the socio-cultural studies of psychology and pondering my ways of understanding on Theory of Knowledge lessons. On my free time I found historical BBC documentaries to watch for fun.

When it came to actually implementing my interest on culture and with it heritage, I got quite stuck. I wanted to learn deeper the cultural dimensions and the origins of various groups of people but I also wanted to find a direct purpose for all that information. After a year of pondering back and forth what to do and attending examinations inside that time of self doubt, I got accepted to Lapland University of Applied Sciences to concentrate on experience design.

We have touched on analyzing and implementing culture on tourism products on the lessons. However, with this conference I hope to see the issues clearly also from the political view and from the view of up-and-coming businesses.

See you in Pori!