I didn’t mean for the title of this blog post to sound too macabre, but unfortunately I have reached an end of an era. I have just finished writing goodbye notes to my friends I have made here in Finland, and this makes the end even more emotional… and final.
I have had a wonderful time this year, studying, living and loving another country. I have travelled to places I never thought I would (the amount of visits to National Parks I’ve made is beyond counting!) I never thought of myself as really into nature before I came here. But, that’s what so great about doing the Erasmus experience – you discover new things and they can become new parts of you. I never really liked swimming before I went away, but I have been going every day this year, and sincerely want to continue this healthy hobby when I get home. Through the great friends I have made here, with different characteristics and different experiences from different countries, I have grown in confidence in experiencing new parts of the world. Me and my friends went to Lapland and National Parks, and I never would have thought about organising such feats. But, then I organised my own trips to Estonia, Latvia and Sweden in the process. These may seem like easy things to most people, but I had never been used to organising such ventures on my own – there were always my parents or other friends – I suppose it marks a gradual transition to official adulthood? I’m not sure.
What I do know, is that when I go to India in July (as part of an internship programme I organised) I am less scared about what obstacles I may approach. Unfortunately, I can’t sort out too much until I’m back home with my parents and have some other official documents at hand; and my parents will still advise me on such a big trip… but, this year has taught me not to fear new cultures, but to embrace them. Because if you do not, then your time abroad will not be fun at all.
I strongly advise people to take part in a Study Abroad/ Erasmus Programme as part of University. At first, I did it because I wanted to prolong the University experience. But, the Erasmus experience is certainly its OWN experience. Of course, you make and lose new friends by the time the year is up… that doesn’t mean that it’s the end! You can gain friends from all over Europe AND the world. These countries are waiting for you to explore them with such new connections. I now have friends from Northern England (ha), France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Finland (of course), Sweden, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Latvia, and Lithuania. But, also as far flung as Brazil, Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Japan!
I wouldn’t change this year for the world (which coincidentally, I now have better access to than ever before!) I am an endless believer of ‘home is where the heart is’. And that is how I will end this soppy blog post. I have felt like home here in Joensuu, for the past year, because of the excellent company I have had. And, now a new journey will begin and I know that as long as I am surrounded by great people (like the ones I have met in Finland and at my home University) then everything will turn out dandy!
TTFN blogosphere xoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxo