Writer: Mina Poku-Agyemang

With all the excitement and expectations, leaving home (Africa), for the first time was like a good dream. I took all I thought I needed, including the warmest clothes I could get in Ghana, only for me to leave Accra with a temperature of about +28° Celsius to arrive in Joensuu at -12° Celsius. I had always known it was cold out here but I did not know it was this cold. It is funny and not funny at the same time.

This made me ask an old friend who’s been living in the UK for over a decade about how he survives the cold weather, and he was like; ‘how can you move from zero (no cold experience) to a hundred so fast (an extremely cold region)? You should have visited a comparatively warmer region first, even I did not do well when I visited Helsinki ones’. I laughed and took the challenge.

However, the past five months have been one of my best if not the best: I survived the cold (everyone does), learnt a lot academically, socially, culturally, and even economically. I can say I have probably grown some more. I met new people, encountered new challenges, ate new foods, played new games, heard new languages, and most importantly discovered myself some more. One of the discoveries was strength. Strength to withstand and cope, strength to learn and unlearn, strength to face challenges, strength to be away from home, strength to adjust and settle in among others.

It was so worth it coming all the way from Ghana to Finland and to UEF and to Joensuu. Was it scary moving? Not really. Will I want to do this again? MOST DEFINITELY! Will I encourage people to take this adventure? YES, especially Africans. You would love it!

Mina, Poku-Agyemang,
CSIR College of Science and Technology, Ghana.