Fulbright interview with Lotta Lemetti
I was born and raised in Vantaa, Finland. I went to High School in Helsinki though, at Mäkelänrinne Sports High School, as I wanted to pursue my figure skating dream. Towards the end of those four years of High school I started feeling like my career in sports had already seen it's best days and it was time to think what comes after. For me it was quite a sudden turn to the arts on my last year of High school. I took every art course I could fit into my final year and the idea of art and photography in specific as my career started forming in my head. Photography and the passion for it is something that has always travelled with me, I just never took it seriously before then.
I was born and raised in Vantaa, Finland. I went to High School in Helsinki though, at Mäkelänrinne Sports High School, as I wanted to pursue my figure skating dream. Towards the end of those four years of High school I started feeling like my career in sports had already seen it's best days and it was time to think what comes after. For me it was quite a sudden turn to the arts on my last year of High school. I took every art course I could fit into my final year and the idea of art and photography in specific as my career started forming in my head. Photography and the passion for it is something that has always travelled with me, I just never took it seriously before then. I guess it's because I'm very ambitious and determined with my goals and there is only room for one at a time. Before that, it had always been figure skating. I started looking up study opportunities in Photography. I knew I wanted to get a higher education degree and I found out that those opportunities in photography were very limited in Finland. Aalto University of Arts and Science for example had just removed their Bachelor's program in Photography and are currently only offering the Master's program. I turned my head towards United States and now almost 4 years later I have graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography degree from the New York Film Academy and currently live and work in Los Angeles as a freelance photographer and artist.
My experience here has been very eye opening in terms of both professional and private life. As I started studying photography and was introduced to so many new and exciting topics and ideas, I felt like a new part of my brain had been unlocked and all that creative power was now channeled into this one thing. It made me feel extremely motivated and I started pushing my creativity and through that finding my own voice and vision. That realization of my own creative power is what guided me through my school years and I am very grateful for it to all of my professors and classmates who helped in shaping it. In terms of private life I've had to adapt to a differently organized society, where things work differently than what we are used to in Finland. Many things that in Finland are government owned are built here through private businesses and entrepreneurship. Individuals have a lot more responsibility over themselves here. As a young person moving here without an existing safety network has thought me a lot about being independent and pro-active. I sometimes feel like we in Finland live in this welfare bubble that is important to break every once in a while to get a larger scale perspective and understanding.
I remember when I first got to New York City; I was struck by the diversity of people walking the same streets. In my daily commute to school, I encountered people from so many different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds that at first it felt overwhelming. As I started making friends and was introduced more into some of these cultures, I learned to embrace the diversity around me. There are so many interesting and unique stories around.
I believe that international cooperation is very important as we want to raise new generations of open minded and cooperative citizens who are willing to work for our people and planet together. The world is getting more and more globalized every year, the old ways of thinking borders and nationalities are shifting as people get more integrated. Why wouldn't we do that in education too? I believe that education and shared academic knowledge is the key to tolerance and mutual understanding between nations.
One concept that I often come across here and would love to see happen more often in Finland is self-care. Finnish people are too often so focused on succeeding in school and work and making other people happy that we forget to take time for ourselves and take care of the most important thing – our own wellbeing. Happy and healthy people are ultimately the ones to bring a positive change to their surroundings. Self care doesn't have to be complicated. It can be anything where you deliberately take out some time from your daily schedule to do an activity that makes you feel good and release some stress. Maybe going to a yoga class before work or going out in the nature for a walk after the work day, for someone else it could be getting their nails done. What the activity is doesn't really matter as long as it brings a mind refreshing break from the daily life.
Access to education shouldn't have anything to do with the financial background you're coming from. Hard working and ambition should always be rewarded. I think academic exchange is a great way to build worldwide human connections. Friendships created in the youth carry for a long time and creates a base on which the future relations are built on. I think any friendly interactions between individuals from different nations is a step towards tolerance. The friendlier nations are on an individual level will also reflect on the diplomatic relationships.