What a month! It began with the holiday I’ve waited 5 years for, and a week after returning was followed up by my graduation from University. It’s definitely been a time for reflection – to appreciate the hard work that goes into achievements – and time for a much-deserved rest! This post is all about my graduation reward of a holiday to Finland – where I had time to unwind, explore, and get plenty of inspiration for new recipes – plus I’ll be rounding it off with an update on my post-graduation plans!

Worth The Wait

When I first met my friend Anna 5 years ago, I was in my first year of Sixth Form back home and was so excited to talk to someone from Finland. I’d never met anyone from Scandinavia before, and hearing her share stories her upbringing and what life is like in that part of the world made me crave a taste of it. She was only with us for the year, and it passed so quickly that in no time at all Anna was leaving to finish her high school studies back home. I was lucky enough to receive an invite to Finland, but at the age of 17 my mom wasn’t happy for me to travel independently, and so I had to delay the visit. Year after year went by, and Anna and I both moved on to university…we still kept in touch, but had never been able to meet up since. When I was in need of that extra bit of motivation during the final months of university earlier this year, I knew just the incentive I needed to get me through – a holiday! As welcoming as ever, Anna offered for me to visit her and her family in Finland, and I gratefully accepted the offer and booked the tickets!

A couple of months later, I was sat on a Norwegian Air flight to Helsinki brimming with excitement for my reunion, and with an open mind for what I would experience. Flying over those beautiful islands, then forests and fields as we came in to land confirmed my expectations – I was in for a week of spectacular views. Finland definitely didn’t disappoint! From the very first evening I was spoilt with the most idyllic views from Anna’s family home (a huge farm!), the freshest smoked salmon I’ve ever tried, and the opportunity to snooze my cares away on a hammock. The rest of the trip was just as indulgent too! Anna was my own personal tour guide and took me around her favourite Finnish places – Turku city and its Cathedral, Porvoo Old Town, a beautiful beach spot, a stunning National Park, and of course, Helsinki. I felt so privileged to live like a local, as we cooked from home, helped out on the family farm and went on bike rides or treks almost every day! It was the perfect break – no stress or worries over transport, activities and tickets, no work or commitments, just time to enjoy a truly incredible country with the best company.

If there’s one thing I learnt whilst on my trip, it’s that happiness is the key to a successful life. Seeing how happy Anna and her family were was infectious! The trip taught me that it’s important to work hard, but equally as important to take time out to relax and spend time with loved ones. I felt like a celebrity with how well I was being looked after – incredible food, evenings spent in the sauna and hot tub… – but in reality it was a reward for the hard work I’d put into the final year of my degree.

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Every day was a girls’ day! Me, Anna and Julie posing by the harbour

Now I’ve learnt that everyday must be a balance of work and rest, it’s no good doing one of those all of the time! Rather than living for the weekends, I want to live each day and enjoy it…do something everyday that I love. So when it was time to say farewell to Anna and her wonderful family, though I couldn’t help but getting emotional, it was a good mixture of sadness to be leaving such an incredible experience behind, with the excitement of knowing that it wouldn’t be the last time I saw Anna, or Finland either. In fact, I’ll be seeing Anna again in September as she begins an exchange year of study in the UK, and I’m already planning another trip for next year! A positive way to end the trip of a lifetime!

Into the real world

It really was back to business when I returned home, with work back into full swing as soon as the week began! Meetings, workshops, orders…it was busy from the first day back, but 3 weeks later, I’m thriving! I’ve kept my new life lesson in mind each day, and I’m at a point where there’s not a single day that I wake up and aren’t looking forward to the day ahead. Whether it’s an exciting new project to work on, a phone call with a new client or a quick catch up with a friend, there’s always something to make me smile. Deciding to build my business in the sport nutrition industry was a risk, especially this early in my life, but I’ve had so many signs that I’ve made the right decision lately.

When the momentous occasion of my graduation came around last week, rather than feel upset about the end of my degree, or anxious about the uncertainty of a career in sports, I felt satisfied. It was nice to have closure, and I felt a sort of freedom to go away and make my mark in the sporting world. Graduation Day itself was lovely, and my mom and sister (the most important people in my life) were there for every moment of it, as they have been with me for my entire life. Having them with me was the most important part of the day, and achieving a First Class degree in Sport and Exercise Science was as much down to them as it was down to my studying. With the support of them and the rest of my amazing friends and family, I’m all set to make a real go of my business!

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So what’s next? As the swimming season winds down this week with the end-of-season competitions, I’ve got a few weeks’ break from those commitments to focus on my business. It’s meetings, workshops, content creation and recipe development for the next few weeks, and I’m loving every moment. I know there will be the odd day when things don’t go as expected and it’s more difficult to stay positive, but all I’ll need to do is think back to what I learnt on my break away and find the next exciting event to look forward to. If I stick to that, I don’t think I can go too far wrong.


That’s it for this post – I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my trip away and what I’ll be working on in the next few weeks. There are plenty of exciting events coming up, so make sure to follow me on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and now Twitter) to stay up-to-date as these happen!


-The Cooking Yam

Written by TheCookingYam

I'm a BSc Sport and Exercise Science Graduate from Loughborough University, and also work as a Nutrition Advisor and recipe developer for organisations such as British Swimming, Colour Fit and Bam Organic. I'm passionate about all things food, health and fitness, and have an ambition to share my knowledge with others. Qualified with Grade Distinction in Level 5 Advanced Diploma in Sports Nutrition to support my interest in food and health for active individuals.

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