Dinner in Helsinki

Sherrill Fulghum By Sherrill Fulghum, 21st Jul 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

A short memoir about one night in Helsinki in 1993.

Dinner in Helsinki

In 1993 I made my second trip to St. Petersburg, Russia as a part of a study abroad program with Florida State University. I have long since forgotten the names of any restaurants where we ate, if I ever knew them in the first place. But the one restaurant and evening I remember the most is not in St. Petersburg but was in Helsinki one Friday night on the stop over in Finland before we headed back to the United States the next morning.

After settling into the hotel and washing the pollution of the modern Russian city from ourselves, the director of the program suggested a restaurant he knew within walking distance of our hotel. About 20 of us proceeded to the restaurant for dinner. This particular establishment featured small intimate tables with dividers for privacy. Seeing the large group the hostess quickly re-arranged the tables for us and removing the privacy dividers so that we could all sit together at one long table (something not often seen at a restaurant in the United States).

Being in Helsinki, some of us opted to sample some of the local Finish cuisine, while others decided to play it a little safer and ordered dishes closer to what they would find in America. As it turned out there were very few diners in our group ordering the same items from the menu.

Me, since I love venison, had to try out the reindeer and ambrosia salad something else I love. Before long a few of us started offering sample bites to each other; this turned into a passing of the plates and sampling the faire as if we were in a buffet or boarding house dining room. Needless to say all of the plates were empty of food and our bellies full. Being late in July, the sun set really late as we were in the land of the midnight sun; thus the walk back to the hotel was a pleasant one.

As we dined the fun and jokes flowed freely. Some of the students were glad to be leaving Russia and returning home to the US. Others were just happy to have hot water for a shower – we had been without hot water, unless you heated it yourself, for about four weeks. And while some of the group – around 30 or so people – enjoyed our time in Russia; there were others who clearly assumed it would be more like the culture they were used to in America and were more than happy to be leaving the country.

The fun filled evening for me was a perceived relief that at the time I did not know would end in tragedy. Two days prior while escorting me back home to our dorm, my musician companion was struck by a car. Although I had gone to the hospital with him, I did not have any information about his condition or prognosis until just before we departed Russia on Friday afternoon. The news was good and we all thought that he might be okay, thus my good mood and the joking and so forth was a release.

The next morning we boarded a plane for the US and with all the time changes and lay overs it was 24 hours before we arrived home back in Tallahassee. A short time later when I finally was able to make a long distance phone call, I learned that my friend had not recovered as we hoped but had died as a result of his head injuries. Even with the sadness of his death, I still recall that night and the dinner in Helsinki with fondness and an experience that I will not soon forget.


College Life, Helsinki, Study Abroad, Study Abroad Programs

Meet the author

author avatar Sherrill Fulghum
Sherrill is an award winning journalist with a speciality in music and entertainment. She is also a photographer.

Sherril is a writer for thedailyvoice news.com

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