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My journey into becoming a Travel Assistant (or official Travel Guide!) in Helsinki

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Learning Diary: My First Week at Perho Perho Culinary, Tourism and Business College attending the Travel Assistant Training

I decided to join the Travel Assistant training course at Perho Culinary, Tourism and Business College because of my deep-rooted passion for both sharing insights and knowledge of Finland and the travel industry. Having lived in Finland since 2005, with the majority of my adult life spent in Helsinki since 2007, I have developed a profound passion for Finland.


My academic background in marketing and my experience teaching tourism students at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, coupled with my master's thesis in destination branding from Sibelius Academy, have allowed me to delve into the intricacies of promoting and showcasing Finland as a destination to visit, study or live. Over the years, I have also unofficially taken on the role of a travel guide, assisting friends, family members, and even strangers who reached out to me via social media, to explore and experience the wonders of Finland. Joining this course felt like the natural next step in my journey, allowing me to gain new knowledge, expand my expertise, and transform my passion into a fulfilling career as an authorized travel guide or returning to teaching as I am a qualified vocational teacher in Finland.

This training could provide me with invaluable insights into the world of travel assisting and guiding, offering a glimpse into the intricacies of the profession. I saw it as an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the practical aspects, local regulations, and best practices in guiding travelers through the beauty and culture of Finland. Furthermore, I anticipated that completing this course would open new doors to a wide range of employment opportunities in the travel and tourism sector, especially since if I ever become an authorised travel guide in my mother tongue Greek then I would be the only native travel guide to welcome guests from Greece!


Day 1: Orientation and Campus Exploration



On September 12, with my backpack filled with a notebook and Finland's Lonely Planet guide, I embarked on a journey to Perho Culinary, Tourism and Business College and its Töölö Campus for an exciting first day of orientation. I am accepted into a 3-month training in guiding in foreign language, which is a short unit of the further vocational qualification of guide services (180 credits in total). Perho Culinary, Tourism & Business College is a quality awarded vocational educator in Helsinki (with campuses in Töölö and Malmi) as well as on-line.


As I stepped into the class, I was greeted with a warm welcome by our lead teacher Karla Ruutu. Karla exudes warmth and is incredibly knowledgeable about the travel industry. Her passion for teaching is evident as she introduced us to the training programme, promising a comprehensive understanding of the travel industry.


During our first contact hours, we had a chance to meet our instructors, Maarit Havukainen and Sari Vuontisjärvi, who will be teaching us later this autumn.


During lunch, some of us ate at the Perho restaurant, where students of the Perho culinary school get to practise their skills. It was a delightful culinary experience, and I was impressed by the level of expertise and dedication that Perho College brings to every aspect of education.


After the lunch break, we had the chance to tour around the visit the Töölö campus which consists of one older part and a newer building. Our studies take place in the new building and the culinary students study in the older building. There is even a small in-house brewery and we met enthusiastic teacher Juha, who provided us with a short yet enthusiastic introduction to Perho's brewery.



Perho is pioneering with a unique concept of its Green City Farm. A unique learning environment of sustainable development is located at Malmi Campus. Green City Farm combines possibilities to study sustainable gastronomy, culinary arts, tourism, business and horticulture. It represents sustainable urban farming and provides a framework for learning more about sustainable land management, diversity, and production. Keep it in mind when you are visiting Helsinki! We plan to visit it during the training and I am personally eager to go there!


Day 2: To know us better

Unfortunately due to a doctor's appointment that was planned before joining the training, I could not attend Day 2 of the orientation. From the little that I got to know my fellow classmates, I can see how diverse our group is, with participants from various backgrounds and walks of life.


Day 3: Virtual meeting and an introduction to the tourism industry


Our first week closed with a virtual meeting on the Collaborate platform and it was filled with insights into the travel industry.


Our first assignments were focused on the history of the travel industry, key terminology and trends. As a teacher, I also like to ensure my students know the key terminology of their area of interest as industry terms are the building blocks that help professionals navigate and stand out in the industry. "If you missing words, you are missing thoughts", I often say.


Understanding the contemporary travel industry and examining sources for the latest trends that are shaping the way people travel today or how travel industry is being transformed is vital in order to imagine how the future and our role may look. From sustainable tourism to the impact of technology and experiential and transformative travel it is eye-opening to see how dynamic and ever-changing the travel industry is!


As we wrapped up the week, I couldn't help but feel a sense of excitement and anticipation for the months ahead. Looking forward to First Aid basics, legal regulations as well as deeper knowledge of Helsinki and its Metropolitan Area that has emerged in the past decades as a global destination.


The Travel Assistant training program at Perho College started off with a fantastic start, and I knew that I was in the right place to channel my passion for tourism and an outdoor profession away from digital devices in contact with real people offering memorable experiences to them during their trip.


In just one week, I have not only gained valuable knowledge about the travel industry but also found some likely-minded people among my fellow students, kudos to Patricia and Tina! Of course, I would like to get to know everyone during the next 3 months.


Stay tuned for more updates on my learning adventure!


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