Why Finland, you may ask? More specifically, why Tampere as an Erasmus destination? It is a cold country after all and often described as a bit hostile. This may be true but my Erasmus depended more on the people I met during my journey than the city itself. I chose my destination and my dream was about to come true — I could not be happier.
What was it about Finland that made such an impression on me when I visited the country for the first time?
The scenery was wonderful, of course. I got a taste of what was to come as the aeroplane flew in over the Baltic Sea and then over a beautiful green landscape dotted with lakes. Although I never ventured out of Helsinki, even the capital was an oasis compared to London, where I live and work. My hotel was just a 20 minute tram ride from the Central Railway Station, and yet a few minutes' walk away was Seurasaari, a lovely little island where, as I sat on the rocks overlooking the pristine waters, with just the odd duck paddling by and not a sound to be heard, I might have been a million miles from civilization.
I have been living in Finland for almost 5 years now. I came to Finland in 2009 to study my Master's degree in Computer Systems at the Tampere University of Technology. At the moment I am working as an Embedded Software Designer in the automation industry.
Finland has been a blessing to me and my family. Through free education, amongst many other good things that Finland offers to immigrants, we have achieved what others have been denied in other countries.
In this regard I will say that sometimes we tend to burn all our energy in the negative things that come along our way in the endeavor to achieve success and complain a lot and we tend to forget also to focus on the bright side of life and we miss the good things that come our way.
As summer brings a delightful fresh approach to Boston, people finally can find relief in the warmth of balmy weather after going through the harshest winter in the history. The weather is gently reminding me of my last summer in Lahti-Finland where I have been calling home for four years.
One of my favorite aspects of life here in Turku is the summer shift into a social rhythm of what I think of as beautiful and serendipitous simplicity. Life settles into a process of meandering from park to park, up and down the river, channeled by series of random encounters with friends, usually resulting in at least one spontaneous picnic and/or drink together. However, I often find that hindering the completion of this idyllic scenario is the lack of quality cold beer available for purchase in the shops. This is a Turku-based assessment, but I am presuming it does not differ too drastically in other parts of the country.
People say that one can adapt easily and quickly to something good, and I think that is completely right. I have been living in Tampere since August of 2015. I had no culture shock, I knew what to expect, since I had been in Finland several times before that.
Everything seemed normal for me, done in the way it is supposed to be done. Interestingly, in retrospective, it seems that I adapted to the environment quite quickly and soon could not imagine myself living somewhere else than in Tampere.
When I was 22, I moved to Moscow and started working there, first in a PR agency, then as a regional PR manager. I really liked my job, even though I can’t say I was happy in Moscow. During a trip to Norway, I somehow I realized that I enjoyed the European atmosphere much more than the constant tension in the air in my motherland. When I was back home from Bergen, my grandma asked me: “So, what are you going to do now?” I still don’t understand why but without thinking I answered: “I’m going to study in Finland”. My grandma liked the idea, and that was how it all started.
Perhaps you have read similar stories in this column, but one more is not going to hurt. I had the privilege to visit this country since 2001 due to business travels. Over these years, it was always quite an experience to see different aspects of Finnish life; however, being in hotels and business meetings for the whole trip did not even scratch the surface of the day-to-day life of Finland.
I remember packing for my move to Helsinki. It was summer, as my Finnish girlfriend had insisted so many times over Skype, but I was unconvinced. I crammed as many jumpers and coats into my suitcase as I could and left for the airport. That was nearly 4 weeks ago, and one thing has surprised me about this country more than anything else: the heat.