For the second time, it is time to say goodbye to Finland. However, is it a real goodbye? Indeed, two years ago I thought that it was the case, but when I realized that I have the opportunity to do another Erasmus here, in Joensuu, I immediately knew that I will be back for another amazing semester in Finland.
After almost two years, I came back! After hard work, I managed to fulfill my desire and come here for the second time.
When I found out about the exchange program to Finland, I applied again without thinking. After nearly two years, coming back to Joensuu was interesting because the city changed in a physical way, some the streets became the Promenade, the University library was expanded, as well as many things. However, people remained the same, kind and always ready to help others.
Before coming to Finland, I’ve had a few conversations about what’s it like there in the far north. People’s opinion were different and I came to a conclusion that I’ll either hate it or love it. And I was right.
To be honest, for the first few weeks, the dark, wind, cold and the process of getting used to a new culture left me a bit depressed and thinking about home. For someone coming from much warmer regions it is a natural thing I suppose. As time went by I started to become more and more comfortable with the visuals and life pace here. Continue reading A land of hidden gems
It was my first visit to Finland and it started in Helsinki with such nice and unobtrusive Nordic design where ever you take a look. The train ride from Helsinki to Jounsuu, then, was a very nice opportunity to enjoy the beautiful landscapes.
Our first meeting at UEF started as it was written there really: “state of smart”! In the “middle of knowhere” I met such nice, polite and great colleagues. In their company all five of us (3 teaching and 2 administrative stuff) enjoyed our time so much.
Not so long ago, on 1st of February I arrived in a friendly and snowy Joensuu. From the very begining of my Erasmus exchange mobility, I had complete understanding for coming a bit late. I missed student orientation program but, as soon as I arrived, I met Mrs. Kirsi. She was, and still is, so helpful and kind. She has even organized few meetings which we really enjoyed. Mrs. Kirsi has introduced us to Finnish culture, amenities and food. It is really nice to know that someone cares about how are you settling down and how is everything going for you. I especially enjoyed snow shoe hiking. It was such a nice afternoon walk which ended up with sitting around the fire and having dinner. Later, my friends and I continued gathering in the woods around the fire close to the lake making the food…
Altogether, all of the people working at the UEF were so helpful and I really did not have any problem with registering and finding the information. I was also amused with different teaching system, with very equipped classrooms and communicative teachers. That is the experience which students can only get if they go on an exchange.
It has been four months since we came in Joensuu and we realized that the decision to apply for the student exchange programme was the best thing that was happened to us. We believe that every student who had such an opportunity to participate in this program share the same opinion. Here’s why: Our first encounter with Finland was enchanting. We were met with the whiteness of Finland, the northern lights, and beautiful landscape. Low temperatures were not something new for us because we come from a country that is rich in mountainous areas with very harsh winters. We chose to travel by train so that we could have a better experience. Already during the first meeting with our tutor at the train station, we felt Finnish hospitality and kindness. The entire process of adaptation has progressed quite easily thanks to a very good organization of faculty, professional skills, and kindness of university staff, who is always ready to help. Continue reading From Eastern Serbia to the Eastern Finland
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
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
On a rather ordinary appearing day in September, I exit the terminal of Nikola Tesla airport, near Belgrade, Serbia. It is + 31 C, and I am wearing my hiking boots with woolen socks. A local friend has come to pick me up with his dad’s car. I scramble for a seatbelt that doesn’t exist, and mumble something about making a law about having seatbelts in cars, to which my friend cheerfully replies: ”Oh, it is a law”. As we drive to Novi Sad, in a car that is in Finnish standards un-drivable, through small villages with dirty unclothed children petting scruffy stray dogs, only one thought frantically blinks in my head: I will not survive here. The culture shock is evident.
Thankfully, when we arrive to Novi Sad, the environment is drastically different. Wide streets lined with colourful and unique buildings and people that look well of and seem friendly and warm, countless of restaurants and coffee places tucked away in small idyllic pedestrian streets, with huge terraces that have brightly coloured chairs. One would never believe, that two places so fundamentally different exist merely tens of kilometres away from each other. Continue reading A story of a Finn learning to let go
‘’You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown. You travel for the unknown that reveals you within yourself.’’
Finland, Joensuu. First time when we heard about opportunity to come and stay there for five months, we could just keep on our minds one thing. Minus 30 degrees. How could we possibly survive that? After many, many stories with different points about Finland, we realized this is our wake up call. This is the time when we have to step out of our comfort zone, burst our safe bubble and just go with the flow.
After staying here for almost 4 months, we didn’t even focus on minor stuff like temperature anymore. Our goal was set on studies, meeting new people and enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime stay. During first month, we stayed within our comfort zone, adjusting to the rules new world had to offer us. As that hardest period passed, we made Joensuu our own. Within next two months, we explored this wonderful city so much, that we knew its streets better than back of our hands. Not only did we enjoy Joensuu, but we also visited other parts of Finland, with new landscapes and new adventures. Of course, Northern Lights have to be mentioned as the prettiest scenery, no matter if we just saw tiny green smudge in the sky or outstanding green light taking up the whole north! While traveling across Finland, we found ourselves understanding more about native Finnish people and their culture. Continue reading Adventure continues