Back to School – FIN 270 Modern and Contemporary Finnish Architecture and Design at the University of Toronto 


I love to learn. While I may have left formal post-secondary education more than two decades ago, I have continued to be a lifelong learner both formally and informally. The University of Toronto’s Finnish Studies elective courses have always been on my learning wish list since both my parents emigrated from Finland to Canada as well as most of my family were born and continue to live in Finland. When I read about the Finnish Studies and the Embassy of Finland to Canada’s brand new course in Modern and Contemporary Finnish Architecture and Design, I knew I had to enroll. I grew up surrounded by Finnish design and on a construction site too. I believe both inspired my love of architecture, design and photography. I work professionally full time, I decided to audit the course by creatively using three vacation days to attend this class to learn more. My first class completed and I am very excited about the lectures and guest speakers including a few who will travel from Finland for this course that celebrates Finland’s 100th anniversary of Independence. Finland is a young nation but it has made an amazing impact through its architecture and design in both Finland and around the world. Look forward to all my learnings and sharing my insights in the weeks ahead. Join me on the journey. Tervetuloa.

FIN 270 Modern and Contemporary Finnish Architecture and Design at the University of Toronto 

I love everything Finnish and I love to always be learning. This autumn I am creatively using three vacation days and heading back to school. The University of Toronto Finnish Studies Program in partnership with the Embassy of Finland to Canada are introducing a brand new course – FIN 270 Modern and Contemporary Finnish Architecture and Design to celebrate Finland’s 100th year of Independence. Finnish Architecture and Design is well known throughout the world and is forefront in Finland’s identity. The course will welcome guest lecturers from Finland which is very exciting. Since I don’t need an undergraduate credit, I decided to audit the course which means all the joys of learning without the stresses of studying, assignments and exams. If you love design and architecture or everything Finnish, definitely consider joining this course or one of the other courses offered by the Finnish Studies program. I am very excited to learn more about Finnish Architecture and Design and hope to share some of my findings and insights along the way. 

New Beginnings

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September and back to school has always felt like a time of new beginnings to me. While I am no longer in school, I enjoy the rituals, excitement and the sense of new this time of year brings. September is also a time of reflection.

In September 1996, my great grandmother who was like a second mother to me passed away. While expected, the loss of a loved one is never easy but I decided to move forward with a previously planned holiday to Vancouver to visit a dear university friend. Always one to make friends on my travels, I enjoyed a lovely conversation with my seatmate who was a successful businessman in the latter stages of his career. During our journey, he shared this insight about life with me.

“Many view life as three parts – school, work and retirement – where we finally get to pursue and enjoy pleasurable pursuits. Many go through life like this but to truly enjoy life fully we should incorporate all elements throughout our lives.”

I truly believe people come into our lives for a reason and I was so thankful to receive this message just two years into my professional life and after the loss of my great grandmother. To this day, this is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received and has helped me weather the ups and downs and challenges that life has brought.

I definitely took this message to heart and continue to put it into practice by always learning, by volunteering and giving back to my community and ensuring that I do things I enjoy. Good health and retirement are not a given. We must not wait to do the things we want to do until later in life. We all need to live fully now.

As we embark on a change of season, are there aspects in your life that feel out of balance? Is there something you always wanted to learn even just for fun? Are you waiting until retirement to travel? Are you dreading going to work every day? Do you want to make an impact in your community? Are you having challenges with your health? Are you consistently missing out on spending time making memories with your family and friends? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I encourage you to reflect on what is important to you and consider implementing this simple yet valuable advice by including something that may be missing into your life now. Many wait until January 1st to make resolutions or changes in their lives or keep putting them off all together. Why wait when you can embark on change today. Remember it is never too late for a new beginning.

Happy September!