After getting all the mechanical issues fixed, I converted the ambulance into a livable camper van. I had absolutely no building experience and had to learn everything from the scratch. The built out took me two months while I was still working & studying. A lot of mistakes were made and there were few hopeless moments, that’s for sure. But then at the end of March, outside temperature being around 12 celsius degrees, I slept my very first night in BjjBiili. It was freezing and all the food and drinks got frozen in no time. But still, when I woke up in the morning, I was the happiest person in this planet. Also also maybe the most frozen one. Happy & frozen.

My next step was to work few months in this beautiful Finnish coastal city called Porvoo, known by it’s beautiful & cozy old town by the river. I still needed to save up a bit money for travelling and for potential upcoming issues with the van…

It was early morning when I started driving to Porvoo. The air was crisp and there were still snow on the ground. The sun was down but there were enough light to give the clear sky this beautiful color of purple and pink. The moon was up waiting to get replaced by the sun. I started working in Porvoo hospital’s ER that morning.

What I started with

Slav squat a day kept the doctor away during the building process

What I ended up with

First night of the adventure

So. Van, checked. Work, checked. Now it was time to find a local BJJ gym. Porvoo has one academy that provides BJJ classes; Sports Academy no. 1. And that was the very first gym I visited while living in the van. As always when visiting new gyms, I felt thrilled. Even though the sport is the same, all the academies has their own culture and vibe. As I walked to the gym and walked the wooden stairs up to the changing room, I got a nice feeling of this place already. Then one of the brown belts walked in and started chatting right away and welcomed me to train with them for few months I’d be around.

Before going to this gym, I’ve had a little break due to foot injury. After injuries it’s scary enough to roll with familiar training partners, not talking about rolling with people you’ve never trained with. And for me it’s not always easy to set boundaries in this sport. That has usually nothing to do with other people, but especially after a long break I’m just getting so excited about doing what I love and then sometimes forget to listen my body and it’s limits. So it’s more about difficulty to set boundaries for myself :D I also admit, that at times I find it hard to accept that I can’t perform in the level I’d want to, not even talking about saying that out loud. Especially to people I don’t know.

That’s been said, I think there wouldn’t been no better place to pick up the training routine again, than Sport’s academy no. 1. Atmosphere was very good, coaches were professional and all the training partners were fun to roll with. It was very easy to communicate about the intensivity of the rounds. Also this was such a good practice to work on setting boundaries and sticking with them. This got me thinking that learning techniques is just the tip of the iceberg since there’s so much more you get to learn in this sport.

Few months in Porvoo went down super fast and I created new training routines as well as got used to living in the van. My foot was heaps better which made me quite happy, since there were few fun summer camps just around the corner!



  1. One of my favorite spots in Helsinki to stay overnight while visiting academies 2. Old town of Porvoo 3. Sports Academy No. 1/Porvoo 4. Coast of Porvoo 5. Samu Hämäläinen teaching me some sweeps at MMA Kotka

Thank you for reading & until the next leg of the journey!

Love, Laura