Lapland: Land of Miracles

My March highlight was a very long trip to the land of dancing auroras, snowy horizons and Sami culture: Lapland! And here is why you should definitely, definitelyyyy visit that magical region.  🙂

Lapland is a region that spreads through three countries, namely Norway, Finland and Sweden. I only visited the Finnish part and took a glimpse on the Norwegian one. However, visiting just a part of it was enough to leave me in an “awe”. Lapland is a real heaven. Beauty can be found wherever and whenever the eyes wonder.  Sceneries of endless forests coated in unpolluted white snow, coupled with beautiful reflections of the dim sunlight or curtains of Northern Lights are enough to make anyone forget about the miseries of the world.

I mean look at this view #nofilter (and not a great camera either)!

If you’re not convinced yet, let me take you on a tour of my trip…then maybe you will consider it very seriously 🙂 Continue reading “Lapland: Land of Miracles”

A proper winter

One of the worst things during my childhood was the disappointment over mild and wet winters. Living and growing up in Serbia, I had the opportunity to sometimes experience days with heavy snow, but they were not as good as the ones from the early-December Coca Cola commercials. Learning that my application was accepted and that I will spend my next semester as a student of University of Eastern Finland, I was really happy to prove to myself that true winters do exist. And Finland did not disappoint me. The very first seconds I spent here were an argument good enough: exiting the airport door, every person I saw that night, including me, exhaled the shivering “WHUUH!” . . . and those were our first words here. I had the honor my first day in Finland to be a shiny -27o C one. Arriving in Joensuu from Helsinki, I wanted to take pictures of everything, but the low temperature drained my phone battery. It bothered me for a while, but it showed me that the walks to the University can be much more interesting if you just enjoy a nice sunny day, not with your head buried in your phone.

And the thing is, snow and ice look amazing on Joensuu. A simple walk through the forest and over the frozen lake can leave you speechless. One of my most beautiful experiences was actually getting lost in the forest at night…in the middle of the town, and I’m not even joking. Continue reading “A proper winter”

A Finnish adventure

Let me start this off with a short story of my first ever minutes in Finland. Flying through Riga in late August, and after waiting at the airport for a connection flight, at roughly 30°C, of course in full winter clothing, as carrying the jacket and heavy boots was only possible in this way do to the luggage capacity, I got to my flight to Helsinki. Right next to my seat on the not-so-crowded plane was a Finnish pilot, presumably just tagging along this Latvian plain to Helsinki. Slowly we moved from a beautiful sunny day to a dark and cloudy land, and while landing, the flight attendant told the Finnish pilot: ‘Oh, nice summer you have here’, with a big smile on his face. And so went my first shock in Finland, naturally being a temperature shock. But luckily everything kept getting better and better every day since that. Continue reading “A Finnish adventure”

Going on Exchange, the Best Decision I have ever made!

Wednesday 31 August 2016, 07:30 am, I descended from the bus coming from Helsinki to Joensuu. A young man about my age was standing outside the bus holding a paper with my name written on it. I immediately recognized him as my tutor, the Finnish student appointed by the university to help me get familiar with the place. A cool breeze swept away the remains of sleep from the last night on the bus as we crossed the bridge on the river Pielisjoki that crosses the town towards the nearby lake. Autumn is already here, creating beautiful landscapes from the colorful leaves of the trees distributed here and there in the calm city center.

After finishing all the formalities of registration in the university and showing me the important places that I need to know in the campus (the restaurants, the library, my faculty…), my tutor lead me home and showed me the place, the nearby supermarket and the bus stop where I can take the bus to the university.

The official start of the season in the UEF is the first day of September. the first week of the term is devoted to introducing the international students to life inside and outside the campus, and to the different aspects of the daily life in Finland and Joensuu in the first place. Continue reading “Going on Exchange, the Best Decision I have ever made!”

Working at the UEF

The phrase On the Move sums up quite well my university studies. During those five years, I enjoyed studying at the University of Ostrava, Czech Republic, and I am thankful that I was also able to discover other places and use every opportunity to travel and study abroad. Nearing the end of my studies, I thought it would be good to experience what it is like to work abroad, too. And what a better country in which to do this than Finland, right?

So it happened that one late January afternoon I landed in Joensuu (a town whose name was not familiar even to my friends who had spent some time in Finland in the past) and moved to a house which is not typically Finnish according to my flatmates. To me it looks Finnish enough – there is a lot of wood, a sauna and Moomin towel in the bathroom.

The first weekend in Joensuu, I decided to attend an event called Surviving winter in Finland organised by a local organisation for international students. Luckily, I came to Finland after the (for me) unimaginable period of -30˚, but some surviving tips could still come in handy. The event also included a truly Finnish experience – a sauna and swimming in a lake. After a few attempts I ended up in the icy water, something nobody who knows me and my sensitivity to cold well could believe. The reactions of international students to this experience in turn provided entertainment for the Finns present, so everybody had fun. And fortunately, I did not get pneumonia before my work placement even begun, so it counts as a success. Continue reading “Working at the UEF”