A cold but warm place

Writer: Gebhardt Kanime

I decided to apply for the ERASMUS program after hearing about it from a friend. As a 6th year medical student in Hungary, I could do part of my final year abroad as a traineeship through the program. From the list of partner universities available, I chose UEF as Finland was different from any place I had ever visited before. Also being from Namibia, Finland seemed like the opposite of my home country.

My first impression upon arriving in Finland on Loppiainen was not how cold the country was but how beautiful the winter landscape was. The train ride from Helsinki to Kuopio had me feeling like I was in a winter wonderland.

As I am a medical student, my traineeship was at the Kuopio University Hospital (KYS), the main teaching hospital for the University of Eastern Finland. My time there was nothing but amazing. I was so flabbergasted at how helpful,kind and friendly the hospital staff were. I didn’t expect to have so much fun while learning. I had so much of a culture shock during my time at KYS. Examples of the culture shock include the absence of hierarchy in the workplace, going to lunch with senior doctors and professors, and residents and students sometimes sharing the same workspace. The biggest shock was finding out that Finnish medical students can work as substitute doctors from their 4th year of studies.

My time outside KYS was just as wonderful. I was really shocked by the amount of Finns outside partaking in winter activities. I really loved how cold weather was not an excuse to stay home. It should come as no surprise that I spent most of my weekends outside. This winter was one filled with many firsts. From learning how to ice skate and cross country ski on a frozen lake, to avanto swimming and Finnish sauna. I never imagined having so much fun during winter especially outside.

Sunset in winter

Snow angels.

Barbecuing in winter

Sliding downhill on snow sledge

Skiing tracks on sunny spring day 

Before I came to Finland, the first thing that came to mind about going there for winter was how cold and dark the country would be. After spending 4 months in Kuopio, the first thing that comes to mind now is how warm the people and how beautiful winter can be! My spring semester in Kuopio has definitely become one of the most memorable experiences abroad. I can’t wait to go back 🙂

Gebhardt Kanime
6th Year Medical student
University of Debrecen, Hungary