From Finland to Huntington via couch

Finnish exchange student uses couch surfing to come to Marshall early

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From Finland to Huntington via couch

Toto Kemppainen

Toto Kemppainen

Submitted Photo

Toto Kemppainen

Submitted Photo

Submitted Photo

Toto Kemppainen

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Toto Kemppainen, originally from Finland, is a physical education major in the Marshall University exchange program.

Kemppainen’s family traveled from Finland to Miami, Florida, to celebrate his father’s 50th birthday before the semester started. He planned on taking a Greyhound bus to Huntington, but at the last minute he had to fly and so arrived earlier than planned.

Kemppainen had nowhere to stay, so he logged onto the couchsurfers website and received a reply.

Couchsurfers is a website for people to give up their couch to travelers for the night. Kemppainen said a Marshall student from Charleston said she had an open couch.

Kemppainen does not even remember her last name, but she picked up Kemppainen from the Huntington airport, showed him around town, took him to her home in Charleston, cooked him dinner, drove him back to Marshall and showed him around campus.

I chose the United States because it’s so easy to travel, and there’s so much culture”

— Toto Kemppainen

“I was so amazed at her hospitality and grateful,” Kemppainen said.

This was not Kemppainen’s first time couchsurfing and said about a year ago he and his friends took a trip to Norway and stayed on couches in Sweden.

“I think it’s [couchsurfing] a good way to meet new people,” Kemppainen said.

This isn’t Kemppainen’s first trip to America either. He has also been to New York.

“I love the atmosphere here and the sport culture, especially football,” Kemppainen said, “I chose the United States because it’s so easy to travel, and there’s so much culture.”

Kemppainen has also been to Thailand, Spain, Egypt, the Dominican Republic, Germany, England and Estonia.

Kemppainen said he has enjoyed his stay in West Virginia so far.

“People here are so polite,” Kemppainen said. “I don’t need skyscrapers and bright lights. I’m very glad to be here.”

Caitlin Fowlkes can be contacted at [email protected]

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