From the cold Finnish Army to the sunny Santa Barbara beaches



City College student Julia Lastikka Tuesday, Oct. 10, outside the Business and Communications building at City College. Lastikka moved to Santa Barbara from Finland to pursue a degree in Pre-Law.


Finland is one of the 16 countries in the world that grants permission for women to have front-line combat positions in the military. Finnish student Julia Lastikka jumped on this opportunity as soon as she turned 18, and joined the Finnish Defence Forces in hopes of becoming a sniper.

Before she had a chance to reach her dream, she had to leave the military in the midst of her training because of a knee injury.  

“I was disappointed to leave, but I enjoyed my time there,” Lastikka said.

Lastikka explained that some men in Finland are required to attend to military training after the age of 18, and her brother was one of them.

“Before my brother went into the military he was a child, but when he came out he was a man,” she said.

After she was forced to leave before she had the opportunity to move on after basic training, she started working and taking classes at the University of Helsinki.

The disappointment did not hold her back from continuing on her future and she moved almost 6,000 miles from Helsinki, Finland to Santa Barbara to pursue an undergraduate degree in Pre-Law.

The transition from the blizzards of Finland to the blue skies of California is something Lastikka says she really enjoys. She hopes to take on surfing soon.

Criminal justice instructor Dave Saunders describes her as a student that is engaged in class and asks interesting questions.

“She’s such an impressive student,” Saunders said.

“I particularly appreciate her sincere interest in the study of Criminal Justice.  She’s one of those students who never misses a class, always sits in the front row and asks thoughtful questions.”

She is a member of the on-campus Ambassador Program that offers resources to international students and host several events such as the International Food Drive.

She compares Finland with America, saying they primarily differ by weather, social culture and attire.

“Finland is a little more formal,” she said.

Lastikka points to her feet and says with a laugh, “I’m wearing flip flops.”

After her time at City College her dream is to receive a bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley. She is unsure about where she wants to get her master’s degree, but is contemplating colleges in America, Europe and Australia.

Though Lastikka did not plan to pursue an education in America, she says she is happy with the outcome the redirection of her path in life.