Would you celebrate your birthday in Finland? How do you feel about the long winter filled with snow? Do you like cold weather or that is a no-go for you?
If you read the Norway and Denmark stories you probably noticed some patterns. I liked North European countries a lot. After my fish factory job in Denmark, I had quite a bit of money left. And that’s when I got an invitation.
The whole month of September, I will share 30 stories with you. One story each day. You will find out how I travelled, what countries I called home and how many times I repeated a travel in the same place. But most importantly, you will get to know my comfort zone stories. Would you share yours?
A good friend from high school was living in Mikkeli, Finland as an Erasmus student. And keeping in touch with her she invited me to visit. It was March of 2010, my birthday month.
I booked a plane ticket through Milan. Romania – Italy and then Italy – Finland. That was the cheapest option I could find, I just can’t remember what was the airline. Probably Ryanair? I already wrote about the story of missing the connecting train from Tampere to Mikkeli. Make sure you don’t miss it, it involves advice from a homeless person and sleeping in a gas station. Anyway, let me tell you about my time in Mikkeli.
My friend was living on a campus that was mostly for foreign students. She was already there for a few months so she made plenty of friends. I never told her, but I always envied her for that, the ability to easily make friends. I was there for about two weeks and the sun was just slowly starting to melt the snow away. Finland being Finland they had free access to a sauna, and that was hands down one of my favourite things. In fact, I’d love to have my own sauna one day. That’s how I’ll know I made it. Heheh. I’m joking. Or am I?
Back to my birthday in Finland. We are not quite there. Similar to the trip to Norway, I had once again a paper map. This time from my friend. And once again, I would just randomly choose a place on the map and just go and explore. Snow, forests and lakes – stunning landscapes anywhere I went. I enjoyed seeing people skating or skiing. Oh, I actually got lost on a skiing track and that is a big no-no. I still feel sorry about that so many years later. And that is also when I experienced one of the best sunsets of my life. Happiness had nothing on me.
The short story about my birthday in Finland? Maybe I celebrated it a little too much since I lost my passport in a club. The memory of that is rather foggy, but I was told the club had to turn the lights on to look for it. I actually only remember going to the club. Trying to act sober enough so I can go in. In fact, you should really listen to the podcast because I tell you a lot more. But before going to the club we had a 70s // flower power party. That was my first time trying tequila. And how lucky was I that the bottle had a worm in it? I guess they weren’t messing around. Oh, to be young again!
The small town was really looking very cute, and I do remember being rather quiet. Or maybe the campus was really on the outskirts of the town. I also remember the shock of paying 6 euros for a pack of chips. I think that was 10 times more expensive than in Romania. It’s hilarious when I think I eventually moved to Iceland, some years later, where everything was way more expensive than in Romania. If you want to read more impressions from my trip, you can read them in Romanian. Or at least have a look at the pictures I didn’t post here.
Have you ever been an exchange student? How did you choose where to study? I didn’t know back then, but the Erasmus life will become real for me too. My Turkish Erasmus life story will come in the next article.
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