I grew up in the Australian outback – a place where summer temperatures regularly exceed 40° Celsius and 'winter clothing' means a long-sleeved shirt over the top of your normal summer clothes. I didn't see snow until I was 23, on a holiday to America. Yet, as a teenager, I decided that one of my life goals was to visit Finland – in particular, the area above the Arctic Circle, the complete 'polar opposite' to anything I had ever experienced.
Since I arrived in Finland six months ago, I've been asked the same two questions over and over: "Why did you choose Helsinki?" and "What do you think of Finland?"
Until I read 'University of Helsinki' on the list of possible Erasmus placements, rather embarrassingly for a geography student, I could barely place it on a map. With a culture and language largely unknown to a humble British student, it was the option that stood out from the list; that and the fact that the teaching is in English answer the first question. The response to the second question is one that requires a little more thought.