We are Toma from Lithuania and Katri from Finland, first-year students of the Master Degree Programme in Tourism, Culture, and International Management (TourCIM) at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland. Our first year in the program has offered us courses in designing tourism services, foresight and service design, tourism imaginaries, and arctic tourism. There is a good balance between the theory and practice, leading to meaningful learning experiences. Our teachers are very supportive and encouraging, creating an environment where studying is a highly enjoyable, even transformative, experience.

During the spring, we had an amazing opportunity to participate in an intensive study program in Breda, the Netherlands. The joint program was organized in cooperation with NHTV (Breda University of Applied Sciences), Kempten University of Applied Sciences in Allgäu, Germany, the Lapland University of Applied Sciences and the University of Lapland, in Rovaniemi, Finland. During the program, we had a chance to apply product and service design theory to a real tourism service design case in a beautiful Dutch tourism destination.

Astan-Breda-kuvaThroughout the intensive study program in Breda, the teachers of NHTV not only demonstrated their professionalism but also showed us the warm Dutch hospitality. We were gaining more insight especially on innovations and sustainability in tourism destination development. Outside classes, our lovely tutor students in NHTV introduced to us the vibrant student life in Breda. It was amazing to hear the tutors had also taken part in other international project courses, studying on-sight the destination for example in Thailand and United States.

During a 2-day excursion trip, we got a chance to develop a deeper understanding the opportunities and challenges of the destination. The teachers had organized several visits from the tourism officials in the area, as well as visits to local companies. We were surrounded by an environment which encouraged our learning and concept development processes. Interesting and encouraging study sessions enabled us to come up with innovative solutions for developing tourism in the destination.

We were very grateful of this opportunity provided for us. Our academic year has been very much enriched by this intensive course, and broadened our horizons with new ideas. We brought home unique and memorable experiences also from for example the bike tours in the astonishing countryside of the destination. We enthusiastically look forward to see more of this kind of joint projects in future, too.

Written by: Katri Schroderus & Toma Simkute