My day: “After years of trial and error, I realised I practice better later in the day”  

Experience the rhythm of daily life with oboe student and Student Ambassador Lucía Castillo Gutiérrez at the Sibelius Academy of Uniarts Helsinki.

Anastasia Lapteva, Ellenor Rose Nish and Rong-Ci Zhang Oboist and Student Ambassador Lucía Castillo Gutiérrez

9.00 – Breakfast time

Every day I go to bed excited thinking about breakfast the following morning! It is my favourite part of the day and I always make sure I have enough time to enjoy it before I have to leave for school. Avocado toast with salmon and coffee is my favourite but sadly, I cannot make it every day. It’s ok though, because I have many other good recipes.

Another two things that give me a good start for the day are deciding what to wear and doing my skin-care routine. Feeling comfortable with my own clothes and skin is very important to me. If I ever miss any of these three things or don’t have enough time to do them properly, there is a big chance my day doesn’t go 100% well!

Lucía’s breakfast at home

10.00 – Time for class

I have a few classes on campus and these usually happen in the three first days of the week. They usually start at around 10 or 11 and go until lunchtime. I really like having in-person classes! I feel seminars on Zoom after Covid were the new normal, when actually getting to know and connecting with your classmates in real life is something truly valuable.

12.30 – Lunchtime with friends

I love the part of my day when your phone won’t stop getting notifications because it is all your group chats with your friends asking: “lunch at 12:30 anyone?” No doubt this is one of my favourite parts of the day. We are so lucky to be able to get food at school for such a small price (2,95€). It feels like it’s all of the right things together: tasty and cheap lunch with friends – a dream!

Lucía’s pic from Outrun Café in Pasila

14.00 – Café exploration around the city

Once or twice a week I like to go somewhere else for coffee other than school. The Sibelius Academy campus is so central that sometimes one has everything they need within a 5-minute walk and forget that Helsinki is actually more than just that.

I have a long list of cute cafés I want to go to on Google Maps and I try to bring friends along, so we can all discover new places in the city. Going somewhere new can be very refreshing and good in order to start your practice time afterwards in a different (and hopefully better) mood. Doing this in the darker months can also be good to help with the general feeling of tiredness and monotony that these might cause.

Watch Lucía’s Instagram video on the best cafés serving the traditional Finnish cinnamon bun in Helsinki.

Lucía taking a photo of her breakfast at Green Hippo in Töölö

16.00 – Practice time

After many years of trial and error, I realised I practice better in the afternoon or evening. It is good to know yourself in this way. Nobody has the same schedule every day and sometimes you have to organise your time neglecting your own preferences, but if I have the possibility to choose, I will always start my instrumental practice later in the day after doing other things that give me a good energy and mood.

18.00 – Meeting with Student Ambassadors

Working as a Student Ambassador for SibA comes with some responsibilities, and these include a lot of individual work and sometimes meetings. We have several a month, depending on which tasks we are taking care of at the moment, but my favourite meetings are the ones with all of the Student Ambassadors from all Uniarts Helsinki academies and our boss Elsi.

We rarely get the chance to talk to students from other academies and I find it truly enriching, even if our meetings are sometimes late in the evening after very long days.

Lucía at a meeting with fellow Student Ambassadors Mark, Anton and Clio

20.30 – Reed-making session

One of the biggest joys and miseries of being an oboist are the reeds. Why is it a misery? Because we spend so much time and energy making them! They’re the 80% of our instrument, and they always need to be very good. It is a thorough job, but the joyful part of it is that we have our own space to make them at the Sibelius Academy: the reed room (röörihuone).

Oboe and bassoon players spend a lot of time there and it allows us to create significant relationships with one another by bonding over reeds and eating snacks. I feel lucky to be an oboe player just because of all the great friends and learning experiences the reed room gave me in these past years!

Lucía in a fisheye pic with oboe exchange student Pere in the reed room last year
Lucía with Admissions Officer Antti and fellow students Michael and Gabriela in the reed room

22.30 – Evening routine

I have two things that I especially like doing in the evenings when I get home after a long day. One is writing in my journal my thoughts of the day. The other is: calling my friends or family back home to stay connected and updated. It is really important to me to stay in touch with the people that I love, and night-time is usually the ideal time to do it.

And of course! Last but not least… The night-time skin-care routine! Unskippable.

Lucia’s tips and tricks for a fulfilling day

  • I gain energy from discovering new places around the city
  • The best part of my day is breakfast!
  • My favourite way to de-stress or relax during the day is to write in my journal
  • I stay motivated by spending time with friends and making good reeds
  • I wind down for a restful night’s sleep after a productive day of practice and completing assignments
Lucía photographed by fellow Student Ambassadors Anastasia Lapteva, Ellenor Rose Nish and Rong-Ci Zhang


Lucía Castillo Gutiérrez is an oboe student and Student Ambassador at the Sibelius Academy, originally from Madrid, Spain. She has lived in Finland for the past three years and is always willing to help you with anything related to student life at the Academy!

Lucía in front of the Alvar Aalto House at winter time

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