Skip to content

Programs : Brochure

  • Locations: Helsinki, Finland; North Karelia, Finland
  • Program Terms: Summer Session
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer Session 2019 02/01/2019 02/01/2019 07/22/2019 08/09/2019
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
GPA: 2.5 Language of Instruction: English
Click here for a definition of this term Class Standing: 2-Sophomore, 3-Junior, 4-Senior Internships or Service Learning Available: No
Housing: Other Type of Program: Faculty Led
Program Description:

2019 Finland Forests

Finland: Forests & National Parks

Program Highlights

  • Finland. Land of 188,000 lakes. Endless forests. Similar to the Northwoods of Minnesota, yet oh so different.
  • Explore North Karelia and the National Parks of Eastern Finland
  • Hike on trails trodden for centuries. Paddle in the land of freshwater seals. Learn wilderness skills and watch reindeer roam the hills of National Parks.
  • Tervetuloa seikkailuun! Welcome to the adventure!

Program Overview

Cities: Helsinki, North Karelia
2019 Estimated Program Fee: $4,483
Estimated Total Cost: $6,578

Karelia is a magnificent area of lakes and forests in Eastern Finland. While on this program, you’ll learn how outdoor education is used to teach about Protected Natural Areas by exploring the beautiful Finnish wilderness in the Karelia district. You’ll start by learning about the basic natural history of the region by studying plants, trees, birds, and wildlife native to the area. This knowledge will help you to further understand the similarities between cross-cultural nature experiences in both Finnish and U.S. protected areas and how these regions are managed and protected in a sustainable way.

This program takes you to four of Finland’s national parks. The first, Kolovesi, is known for its paddling opportunities. Here you will canoe through the region’s many lake channels and see the impressive cliffs that dominate the landscape. Next, you’ll stop at Koli National Park, where the waterfalls, scenic trails, and beaches are can’t-miss sights. You’ll then move on to Patvinsuo National Park and hike part of the Karhunpolku Trail. It follows the shore of Lake Ruunaanjärvi and features beautiful views of the marshland prominent in the area. There’s also a good chance you’ll witness some of the wildlife native to the area! Oulanka National Park, known for it’s hiking trails that feature some of Finland’s most remarkable waterfalls and rock formations, will be your final destination. This program is full of nature hikes, camping, paddling, and exploration that you won’t want to miss. Tervetuloa seikkailuun! Welcome to the adventure!



  • Minimum 2.5 GPA 
  • Must have completed a minimum of 30 credits
  • Ability to hike 8 miles a day while carrying camping gear
  • Ability to carry 35% of body weight.
  • Must bring your own (or be willing to rent) a hiking backpack

Course Information:

Earn 3 credits in ENED 4800 Outdoor Education and National Parks of Eastern Finland, which is approved for undergraduate and graduate credit. 

  • This course will count as an elective for Environmental and Outdoor Education majors/minors
  • This course fulfills the Global Perspectives Liberal Education requirement

Course Topics Include:

  • Experience first-hand how and where Environmental and Outdoor Education occurs in Finland
  • Observe how cultural context informs outdoor experiences
    1. How Finnish wilderness skills are an integral part of camping.
    2. How knowledge of the natural world--like plants, animals, fungi, etc.--are essential elements of the camping experience.
    3. How the law of Everyman’s Right informs the Finnish worldview in relation to the natural world.
  • Apply your acquired knowledge of plant identification and Everyman’s Right to conduct the traditional Finnish activities of foraging for, gathering, and eating berries and mushrooms
  • Compare nature in Finland to Minnesota to learn about similarities and differences
    1. Both places have similar geological histories, which have led to the formation of boreal forests and chains of many lakes and rivers.
    2. These two boreal forest ecosystems have similar ecological niches, which are often occupied by the same species (as in birds, fungi) or related species (flowering plants, mosses, lichens).
    3. Both places have a similar tradition of outdoor recreation, but due to different histories, there are divergent activities, like rowing in Finland versus canoeing in Minnesota.
  • Perform a cross-cultural comparison of nature-based outdoor education as it occurs in Minnesota and Finland
  • Observe how the National Park System operates in Finland
    1. How the park system functions to sustainably manage Protected Nature Areas.
    2. How rules and regulations inform outdoor hiking experiences.
    3. Compare the human experience of nature-based outdoor recreation in Finland with that of the U.S. in the context of sustainable management practices.

Program Leaders

Ken Gilbertson, Professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences - Environmental and Outdoor Education Program, has studied the sustainability of Protected Nature Areas from tourism impacts for over 20 years in Finland, in addition to collaborating with 3 Finnish universities through a student/faculty exchange about nature-based education.

Ken Gilbertson, Ph.D.
Dept. of Applied Human Sciences
College of Education & Human Service Professions
123 SpHC
(218) 726-6258

Matti Erpestad, Faculty member in the Department of Applied Human Sciences - Environmental and Outdoor Education Program is a dual citizen of Finland and the United States. He is fluent in Finnish and holds a degree as a “Wilderness and Nature Guide” from North Karelia College in Eastern Finland. He also has a Master of Environmental Education degree from UMD.

Matti Erpestad, M.A.
Dept. of Applied Human Sciences
College of Education & Human Service Professions


Study Abroad Coordinator

Lyndsey Andersen is the associate director of Study Abroad and coordinates all short-term faculty-led programs. 

Estimated Program Costs

Preliminary Estimate | Summer Session 2019
Estimated Program Fee: $4,483
Estimated Out-of-Pocket Expenses: $2,095*
Estimated Total Cost: $6,578

Final cost estimates posted closer to program departure. Costs vary each year.
*Estimated out-of-pocket costs are dependent on items such as current airfare costs and individual spending habits.

If you do not see a cost estimate for the semester/term you intend to go abroad, the cost has not yet been determined. Please note cost estimates and fees may change depending on international economic factors. UMD Study Abroad delays the posting of final fees until enrollments, inflation, and exchange rates are determined in order to provide students with the most accurate pricing. We strive to post final fees by October 1 for Spring programs, March 1 for May/Summer programs, and May 1 for Fall and Academic year programs.

What’s included in the program fee?

  • Personalized advising
  • Pre-departure orientation
  • Tuition
  • Housing
  • Local transportation
  • CISI - international travel, health, and security coverage
  • Visa entry guidance (if applicable)
  • Faculty leader support
  • Re-entry support

View the 2018 breakdown of costs (available upon Board of Regents approval.) These estimated costs do not include the $50 application fee. Financial aid only applies if you take at least 6 credits total during May and Summer session combined. Credits taken on study abroad programs cannot be used in tuition banding. Scholarships are available! 

Travel Documents

A passport valid for 6 months beyond the end of the program is required.


Know the following program information to provide on the online application:

Center Name: UMD Study Abroad
Education Abroad Term: Summer Session
Country: Finland
Program Name: Short-term: Finland: Forests & National Parks

Apply early as space is limited and the program will fill first-come, first-serve. An essay and an unofficial transcript is required. A $50 non-refundable application fee will be billed to your One Stop account upon submission of an online application.


Apply Now - UMN Students
Apply Now Non-UMN

After you apply

  1. You'll get an email confirmation with a link to your application checklist
  2. Follow instructions to submit your application checklist items on time
  3. Your UMD study abroad program coordinator will review your app and monitor your checklist progress
  4. The program leader will confirm your acceptance
  5. Once accepted you must complete the confirmation checklist to confirm your participation
  6. Once we receive your confirmation, your account will be billed

If you decide you cannot participate, you must login to the online application system and submit a "Cancel Request."

UMD 138 Kirby Plaza, 1208 Kirby Drive, Duluth MN 55812
Email | (218) 726 8764 or (877) 755-4200

Program health and safety information is available at GO SAFE: