I sacked off uni to work at a husky farm in Helsinki
And you probably just went to Thailand
About a year ago, I was sitting in my noisy college computer suite, completing my UCAS application with the other 30 odd teens in my class.
I decided after getting my A levels at the end of my fourteenth consecutive year of education, that whilst university was definitely right up my street in the future, I needed some time out.
That was my excuse. Now, I sit at a little wooden table, in a little wooden cabin, under the curious gaze of one bright orange and one piercing blue eye. My third room mate tonight is a Siberian husky named Isku.
Instead of spending the last year in stuffy lecture theatres and clubs with sticky carpets, I’m in Finland, surrounded by nothing, 60km north of the arctic circle working at a husky resort and campsite.
This isn’t what I had imagined for my gap year either. I’m sure I’m not the only person who, when confronted by somebody’s travelling gap yah stories, imagines samey selfies with bare foot children in Tanzania, or photos of some kid stood under the same waterfall in Thailand that everyone goes to.
I worked a steady but boring bar job before deciding that I wanted something more. Something more that South-East Asia, or voluntourism in Africa.
I’ve still got the rest of my life to decide to disappear off into the jungle, but right now, at this time of massive change in my life, on the brink of moving away from home and doing a course I’ve never studied before, I thought I might as well go into the unknown?
I found a working abroad website, found the one that looked the most fun, and would be something different from the classic rich kid trip to Burma.
In a matter of weeks, I had quit my job, booked a flight to Helsinki and was emailing with my host and working out the details.
I work with the dogs, spend my days outside in the fresh Scandinavian air, barely thinking about the prospect of spending my days in a library slaving away to get 40%.
Every working day I’m feeding the dogs 30KG of raw, defrosted meat and vitamin biscuits, cleaning out their pens, watering them, learning their names (which are mostly Finnish and very confusing for the first month) and growing to know and understand their individual personalities.
I share my bed with a big sled dog called Nuchunkin, not gross freshers I pulled in the first week.
He’s a huge duvet hog and can give you the best “bitch please” expression you’ve ever seen at 8.30am when your alarm goes off.
Just like a roommate at uni, he steals my stuff, stays in the bathroom forever and makes a mess of all my clothes. But unlike some randomer that I’m lumped with in halls, he’s unbelievably cute and probably a friend for life.
Having such a compassionate furry friend to look after me here makes me wonder how I’m even going to survive freshers without him, or any other husky nudging me forward with a gentle muzzle to the small of the back.
If you see me wandering around campus with a vacant expression, howling and pining, have a little sympathy for the culture shock I’m going to be facing, maybe put a paw on my shoulder.
I chose to break the mould, to put off the freshers flu and coursework deadlines for a year and it was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.