Ever since I was 2, my parents would take me to Finland every summer for a relaxing vacation away from the big city. I loved those trips, as the Finnish weather and nature are truly beautiful, and I always looked forward to the end of the school year specifically to come here. So when my parents asked if I would like to move to Finland at age 11, I said "yes" without even thinking. When we came here, I realized exactly how much I loved this country. I was exited to live in this majestic place.

However, as time went by, I grew more and more disappointed: the language which I found poetic at first was now annoying me and the calmness of the forest next to where I live became painfully boring: I was used to the busy streets of St. Petersburg. I spent 2 years studying in Vantaa and I do have to say that the people I spent these 2 years with were some of the best people I've ever met. Particularly, during my second year here I have bonded with them over many activities that our school held and I could readily call them my friends, but my life outside of school was grey and plain, with nothing interesting to do. I spent most of my time on the internet, but eventually I couldn't find anything fascinating even there.

I have changed schools after 2 years of studying in Vantaa, and after spending a year getting used to Helsinki, I finally found some things to do. Helsinki is no St. Petersburg and there are much fewer opportunities in this city, especially for a person who doesn't speak Finnish. But there are also many immigrants living here and quite often you can find one willing to teach you something new. In fact, you can find teachers of very obscure subjects here in Helsinki, for example: my bagpiping teacher.

But there are also things that you cannot find in English, yet you don't have to speak much more than a few words of Finnish to participate in these activities. For instance, I go to a boxing club in Finnish, and what I don't understand in words I perceive in action. Obviously, if you are looking for tuition and private lessons then you probably want to find someone who speaks your language. But even if you can't, give it a try! It might surprise you that you understand much more than you think you do.

When I don't have any additional classes, I enjoy walking off in random directions, exploring the city, and it is truly an interesting city to wander about in! There are so many little shops, streets, and architectural peculiarities to explore that the mind boggles. I also greatly enjoy the weather, particularly in spring. While winter is a bit too nippy for long walks, April and May, when the snow thaws and the sun shines, are just perfect. It is warm during this time of year, and the fact that just a few weeks ago it might have been -20 just amplifies that feeling. Back in St. Petersburg, my parents would never allow me to travel on my own, but here, where it is much safer, I probably could easily get my parents' permission to visit Tampere for a day!

Writing this, I realize what a majestic city Helsinki is. It is an interesting place to explore, where opportunities for learning might not be in plain sight, but hidden deep within its streets. It is a place where one might find an amazing café should they venture off the main roads, or witness an amazing view from a bridge. It is calm and feels to me more like a huge village than a city. This is a place where I feel that I can blend in with the streets and the squares. Just like St. Petersburg, this is a city where I feel at home.