Why I chose Finland as my exchange destination

I never imagined I would get to live in Finland for a while. But life gave me the opportunity and I feel very lucky. “Why Finland?”, many people asked me when they knew I was coming to study here and I always answered with ”it’s very different from what I’m used to” (and also because I love Christmas and we all know it’s Santa’s country). And yes, it was different from what I imagined!

My arrival was a bit catastrophic (we can sum it up in delayed flights and missed trains), but I didn’t know all the good things that were waiting for me to experience. I started meeting people from all over the world, learning about Finnish culture, exploring the corners of Pori, visiting other cities… And the more things I did, the more I became attached to this country.

I have to admit that when I arrived, the language seemed very different and fun (spoiler: it still does), but that curiosity is what motivated me to learn what little I know, although I hope to learn a lot more. In this semester, I have learned so many new things.

Leaving my comfort zone and moving to a place where everything is different is very enriching, even being away from my loved ones, although there are days when I am more nostalgic and perhaps sad for not sharing moments with them, I realise what a treasure I have because I know that they are always there despite the distance. Besides, I have created another family with the people I have met here.

The university and the study method used was another of the things that surprised me the most. The companionship, the support and trust between students and teachers, the way the syllabus is explained, among many other things, I think is brilliant. SAMK University is very good and it is an honour for me to be studying here.

One of the things that stands out from this semester is that I was able to fulfil one of my dreams: to meet Santa and visit Lapland. The excitement and joy I had during the whole trip is inexplicable. I was a little girl again. When I met Santa I brought him the first Christmas letter that my 2 year old niece had ever made, so it was a very emotional moment for me.

I had never seen it snow the way it snowed in Lapland, it was magical. Also, I saw the reindeer for the first time and tried the Finnish experience of going to the sauna, jumping in the snow and coming back to the sauna, and it is a painful but amazing feeling at the same time. I had hoped to see the Northern Lights, but it was not to be. I hope to see them one day and cross it off my wish list.

I still have another semester left (the coldest, by the way), so the anecdotes and new experiences do not end here, but it is true that the first half of my stay here is coming to an end. I hope that this country will continue to give me other experiences and memories. And if you ask me now ”Why Finland?”, I will answer: ”Because it is a very different country to what I am used to, and because it is a country that gives you very good moments and a great learning experience, and because I also love Christmas and Santa”. That’s why I chose Finland.

Kiitos, Finland!

Text: Ines-Marina Pinero-Landaeta, exchange student from Universidad de la Laguna
Pictures: Pixabay