Writer: Carla Batlle
I’m Carla, and I’ve spent my whole life in this small city in Catalonia. Since I was a kid, I’ve always had this desire to live abroad for a while. So, as a microbiology student in Barcelona, I got this chance to do an Erasmus program for my final year. I picked Finland cause I wanted something completely different, and Finland is known for its breathtaking natural landscapes, innovative education system, and unique culture. So, off I went!
I arrived in Kuopio on January 4th, and my first impression was like, “OMG Carla, what have you gotten yourself into?” The freezing cold at -20 degrees and the darkness in the early afternoon made me seriously question my decision. I was exhausted from a long day of travel, dragging around two huge suitcases, and then I saw these two meters of snow on the streets. I gotta admit, my first instinct was to jump on the next flight back to Barcelona. I was like, “This country ain’t made for me!” But I gathered my courage and hopped on a bus to the city center. Little did I know, it was the start of the best experience of my life!
As soon as I saw those winter landscapes, I was mesmerized. I wanted to capture every single moment, but no picture could do justice to how amazing it was. The UEF (University of Eastern Finland) welcomed us with open arms and took care of us every step of the way. The education system here, it’s awesome! It’s all about putting the students at the center, working on cool group projects, attending interactive lectures to create a dynamic and enriching learning environment. I’ve learned so much, and I gotta give props to them for taking care of our mental health too.
But it wasn’t all about the lessons. Kuopio had so many outdoor activities to offer, and it allowed me to fully embrace the Finnish way of life. I found myself exploring the nearby forests, hiking in the snow, trying out sauna sessions (which were absolutely amazing!), and even attempting winter sports like ice skating, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing. Oh, and let’s not forget about the ice fishing adventure, although we weren’t lucky enough to catch anything. I had the privilege of witnessing the mind-blowing Northern Lights one unforgettable night.
I found my second home in Kuopio, seriously. This experience has been all about personal growth, getting an awesome education, immersing myself in a different culture, and making friends from all over the world. Kuopio will always have a special place in my heart as the city that gave me the most incredible Erasmus experience ever.
Carla Batlle, the Microbiology Superstar
4th Year Microbiology Student
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain