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Greetings from HEL: how does it feel to live in an airport for 30 days?

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A layover gone wrong? Not quite. A Chinese TV personality Ryan Zhu has been living at Helsinki Airport already for over two weeks as a part of #LIFEINHEL – a disruptive content marketing campaign by the Finnish airport operator Finavia. You’ve probably noticed that everyone is following Ryan’s experience, including CNN, Business Insider, MSN and Lonely Planet. The campaign has had over a million viewers so far and the interest seems to be rising.

Ryan has now spent a total of 14 days living in a tiny 8 m2 wooden cabin situated in the Non-Schengen part of the Helsinki Airport terminal. Passengers witness with amazement as the resident walks around in a bathrobe and brushes his teeth casually in the public washroom. First, he was scared about feeling lonely but after meeting passengers from all over the world that turned out to be unnecessary with over 50 000 travelers in the airport daily.

Coming up: a deep dive into Finnish culture     
During his adventure, Ryan will get familiar with not only Helsinki Airport’s passengers, staff and functions but also with Finnish culture and food, like cross-country skiing, sauna and mammi, a very hard-to-describe dessert.

During the upcoming days, there will be new surprises waiting for Ryan, like trying out different airport jobs and meeting famous Finns. The question remains: how long can he handle the stress of living in the airport?

He has a return ticket which he can use any time he wishes but if he endures 30 days, he will receive a trip to magical Lapland. “I’m sure that if I’m not going out of my mind, this experience will certainly challenge me to my very limits”, he tells.

Skateboarding on the runway and learning to survive in the cold
So far, Ryan has been busy testing Helsinki Airport. He has proved that it is possible to transit in 35 minutes and found out different ways of spending time during layover. He has made new Finnish friends and even skateboarded on the runway.

Also, Ryan got to choose five items to his cabin, and two of those he won’t change for any price: a thick winter jacket – since the winters in Finland can get rough – and noise-canceling headphones. But what has been the hardest challenge so far? “Definitely the one where I tested how children can be entertained at the airport. I’m awful with kids”, Ryan laughs. But actually, the children had the time of their lives.

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