What do you imagine when you say Finland? Lapland, reindeers running along the road, Santa Claus delivering gifts, a land of millions of lakes with beautiful landscape, and a fantastic school system? Just a great place for a summer or winter trip, right?
But what did I imagine Finland to be when I decided to go there for Erasmus? Winter, darkness, cycling to school at -20 degrees, sober life and high living costs which lead me to the idea of feeding myself with pieces of bread for fish and drinking only water. Also, I thought it would be impossible to travel (NO MONEY), and I would live in the library and the focus on my studies because I would struggle with English - languages are not my strong side.
But you know what? Miracles happen, and everything was totally different. Much better, funnier. English was quite OK, and the costs are not that bad if you know how to use money in a smart way. Of course, I spent a lot of time running around shops (mostly LIDL, but no ads here, sorry) and looking for food discounts.
But on the other hand, I had the opportunity to visit Lofoten Islands, St. Petersburg, Lapland and many other places. Oh, and parties? Sure I enjoyed a few hangover mornings. This simply belongs to the life of a young, independent person.
I am a really bad company for travelling though. Something wrong always happens when I travel with friends. For example, during the first month, I went with my German friends for a trip with ESN Vaasa. We sailed to an island where we had tasty moose soup (yum yum btw). And then we decided to go hiking. It was a beautiful walk in the forest with spectacular views of the lake and the sea. We were enjoying the place a lot, but when the time was running out, we started to walk a little bit faster. But if you leave three friends somewhere in the forest alone, they might just talk and not look around, so they may lose the trail marking.
And what happened? Well, of course, we were somewhere on a different side of the island than we should have been. At least we thought so because we did not know precisely where the boat was anchored. And we had only 10 minutes till the boat was supposed to sail (it was a private trip, so no timetable of departures). Fortunately, there is a technology called a cell phone and the internet. But if you do not know where the ship is anchored, even uncle Google can't help. But a friend on the phone, who was already on the boat, could help with live location. Smart move, huh?
On top of that, not only that we got lost in the forest, but it suddenly got dark, and it rained cats and dogs. Long story short, after a little stressful way filled with panic that we will never find a way back, we finally arrived at the ship. Although completely wet and 25 minutes later than we should have been. But shit happens, mostly if I lead the expedition (#adrenaline).
Did you hear Finland is a safe country, where nobody steals, shoots and so on? Well, it probably does not fit to Vaasa, where there are not enough bikes, and some are often gone. So what happened to me? One day I woke up, had breakfast and wanted to go to school by bike. I parked it in front of my apartment in a common "bicycle parking lot". I went there like every day. I stood by the bike to unlock it, but then I noticed that the lock was on the ground. I wondered what happened. I guess I had inadvertently forgotten to close the lock or something so that the lock fell of the bike with the wind. I grabbed the lock, and I found it out. It was cut in two pieces. It looked like a pro did it, but check it out for yourself on the picture.
Such a feeling when you find out your bike is so bad that even a thief doesn't want it. Funny. So I had to buy a new lock. Third one! The first two stopped taking my key, they probably froze or something.
What do I want to say at the end? Everything you experience in your life moves you further. And believe me, when you go abroad for at least one semester, you will experience more and more effectively than if you stayed home.
"The gladdest moment in human life is a departure into unknown lands." – Sir Richard Burton