Back in Finland

Jou everyone and no one!

I’m back in Finland and read the instructions given to keep this blog and noticed that actually the guestions we had to answer are really interesting. I have to admit that I didn’t get to known with them a lot when I was writing. As a sum up I really want to answer almost all of them straight and clear without you having to read the answers from between the lines. Some I will skip like the preparations, because I described them already so clear in the beginning.

Lets start with getting to know with Utrecht. I actually really think that everyone should see effort in going to different places and events. It’s only 5 months, so go to walk around and see nice places you want to visit and actually GO there and don’t just plan. I did that and I think I know Utrecht better than Jyväskylä. 5 months compared to 1,5 years. This tells that my stay was intensive, doing a lot and traveling a lot.

Living in Utrecht; I loved the city. It’s less international if you compare to Amsterdam so you really feel like being in the NL. Everyone talks fluent English so that makes the living easy. I did have some troubles with ING, which is a big bank. It was slow and unhandy, so I would recommend you to try another bank than ING.

Studying in Utrecht (Social Development Work); Studying was super ruff. I did learn a LOT and I’m really thankful for the teachers in that sense. I do feel like now I know a lot about the developing worlds and how it might be possible to actually do change and what kind of mistakes we already have done. That’s obviously important that we won’t keep making the same mistakes. I did do some multicultural studies in Finland and even did an internship with refugees, but I only learned about how to integrate them to Finland. It didn’t make me understand the background where the refugees come from. Yeah, for sure we did talk about wars, not existing freedom of speech, rapes and so on, but not really about the history and complexity of the countries. I have to admit that I didn’t even know what colonizing means before I came to Utrecht. I didn’t know how much we’re still ruling the third world countries. It’s crazy and sad.

Example of cultures getting together; This part is almost too easy. There would be many many examples I could tell you, but since we had this course “Fieldwork” and decided to organize a benefit party for refugees, I will tell you about that. We had a group of 4 girls and wanted to help refugees who are in a hopeless situation in the NL. They don’t have an asylum so they’re not legal. No right to work, privacy, safety etc, you name it. There was a group of 60 refugees who were living in a church in den Haag. We wanted to offer them a nice evening and raise money for them. The awesome thing about the event was that we gathered so many different people to the same place to support the same case. We had the benefit in Agnes chuch so we got some of the christians of the church there. We had activists who were already helping the refugees or just got interested in their situation (imagine, a group of activists in a church! ;)). Then we ofcourse had the refugees, musicians who were supporting the issue and also other people who I cannot put into any of these groups. What really melted my heart was that two of the refugees sang in their own language in a christian church and the refugees started dancing their own traditional dance. It felt like many different cultures melted in together and this is actually what we need. Let’s do things together instead of being prejudiced. The power lies in the group and we should never underestimate that. We are too often just in the safe own circles when actually cooperating is so damn important.

Integrating to the Dutch culture; I have to admit that I expected a bit too much considering to the language. I really wanted to learn the language perfectly. I did learn quite much and now I can communicate basic things in Dutch which is cool, but in my head I thought I would talk a lot better Dutch in the end. This goal was hard to reach since the Dutch actually like to talk English and they’re all damn good in it even if they say they’re not. I also set as a goal that I would get also Dutch friends instead of being all the time in an international group. I managed to do this although I did have to put a lot of effort in it. Too often when the Dutch hear that you’re leaving in 5 months, they seem to loose interest. Maybe those people weren’t the right for me. I’m really happy of the friends I got. I got to known with different cultures and also the Dutch one. Kisses to all of you! Xx

I do have to admit that the Dutch nightlife I didn’t like. The music is something I just don’t get into. Also the clubs are too small and packed. But if you like techno… it’s for you! The small coffee places I loved though and I really recommend you to visit those. For example café Olivier is worth of seeing.DSC_0511mp

Competences I developed in the NL; My English skills have developed a lot and I react easier at the moment in English. Some words are hard to find in Finnish or I say strange things like “ottaa suihku” (take a shower) instead of “mennä suihkuun” (go to shower) as you say in Finnish. I also learned a lot about myself. When you get displaced from the familiar people and places, you really see a ruff, very naked picture of yourself and that’s really confronting. I didn’t know that I actually don’t like to work that much in big groups. I prefer intensive one on one contact or small groups. When it goes over 6 people, my behaviour changes if it’s not a professional thing. As a worker or performer I’m comfortable and good also in big groups. All the things we studied about the developing countries also opened my eyes a lot and made me look more critical about projects which I used to look up as perfect projects. This went even on a stage that I felt like I never want to do anything because it’s going to go wrong any way in some point. Now I do realize that since I’m critical, I will pay more attention on the places where it’s needed and I can still make a change even if not everything goes exactly like it should. Also because there is multiple people involved also there is multiple truths and multiple feelings.

Leaving the NL and arriving Finland; I was really feeling bad before leaving. I didn’t want to go. I had all these awesome new people around me. On the other hand I was way too busy the last weeks with school and I just wanted to get over those and get home to my family and nature. The last month was horrible and wonderful. I would never change this experience. Not with any price. It’s impossible to try explain all the things which happened. It’s impossible to picture how I feel or felt. And as a cliche; nothing has changed when you come back. Feels weird to hear people telling that actually nothing has happened. They watched maybe a new tv-serie or heard new gossips. These are also nice things ofcourse, but it just makes me think that I really want to do as much as possible in my life. I really hope I won’t get stuck now that I got to taste how it is to live like you only have few months to spend.

I really value my friends here as well and I realize how I should see more effort on my friendships as well. Those and your family are the people you will rely on and keep you up when everything else falls down.

When you go; Experience in exchange.

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Holidays

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

I apologize that I won’t be able to attach any pictures anymore. I have to give some feedback to the school about the WordPress.

Anyway I totally skipped December on the blog because I felt so unmotivated to write something and not be able to use pictures I have made. But now we have the X’mas holiday here and because the block B is continuing ’till the end of January, we don’t have a real holiday since the deadlines are pushing. I was able to spend a really nice Christmas at my classmate’s family in the North of the Netherlands. Huge thanks for them about that! Would have felt a bit strange to be all alone those days. We hitchhiked there and it went again quite easily. It took about the same time as if we would have taken the train. It was really a different Christmas for me.. 5 kids, vegetarian food, church, no snow, sun, no gifts… But I won’t complain at all, it was so nice to not feel stressed about the gifts and so on. Just concentrate on spending time together. And I saw a camel!!

On 28th we had the BIG evening with my fieldwork group. We had this fundraising event for refugees/asylum seekers who don’t have I.D.s, are not legal in the NL, but it’s not possible to send them back to their home country. They’re living in a church in den Haag in rooms built of blankets. So all of you can really imagine that it’s not the place where you would like to live in a wintertime. Highly flammable, cold and no privacy.
We got some artists there to perform, one of the refugees was cooking dinner for everyone and we did some light art with my camera. In the end it turned out to be a succesfull evening though I was seeing nightmares beforehand, we were forced to change the location and lots of our plans because of the firesafety. The whole planning went really different from my side than I would have done back in Finland. For example usually I really like to have a lot of control and responsibility. Here because of the language and the contacts of the other group members, I felt a bit displaced and not as useful as I like to be.

Thanks for all the artists and people who helped us! We wouldn’t have survived without you.

My dear friend Ilona visited me. She arrived on the event evening. So the picture she got from the NL is maybe a bit different than the normal tourists visiting Amsterdam and thinking that now they know the whole Holland 😉 the new year (and her birthday) we spent in Meppel the Dutch way.
Ps. if our friendship would be a child, it would be going to junior high school this year!

Exactly 4 weeks and I will be back in Finland. I have really mixed feelings. I don’t want to go back but on the other hand I love the idea of being back. I’m sure I will cry in the plane back to Lappeenranta. Probably already earlier. It’s crazy how much I have learned about myself in such a short time. After the exchange I will try to sum up some of those things.

Knuffel,
Evelina

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Upload Limit Exceeded

Pff. I’m a bit pissed off now. I had all the nice pictures for this post, but apparently I can’t add them because I don’t have enough space for them. Which is so stupid because I like to show things rather with pictures than words. Well, no can do. I deleted some pictures from the old posts that I can put even two pics here.

Anyway, we had this excursion with our class to Brussels. We visited the European Comission, Afrikaanse museum (colonizing history of Kongo) and other interesting things. We also played games together, ate together and had a hitchhiking competition! It was really nice to get known a bit better with our class and do nice stuff together. Hitchhiking was a new experience for me and I was really excited about it! We found the lifts pretty easily to Brussels. Only once we got stuck in the ring of Antwerp (never do that!!) because the driver didn’t understand that we do NOT want to end up there. We had to walk about 40minutes to find a place on the highway where someone who is crazy enough might stop. And we got picked up really soon by a nice Belgian couple who felt sorry for us standing on the highway in rain 😀

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The group who won the competition were actually amazingly fast when they came back to Utrecht. 2 hours and 20 minutes. That’s faster than by train!!

The excursion was also nice in the way that my feeling about the difference between Finnish and Dutch teachers came stronger. The Dutch teachers joined us to the pub and spent some time with us in the evenings. Also the same happened on our class party. The teachers promised to bring the drinks and they brought wine. And it was all okay. We only drank half of the bottles they brought, which would have never happened in Finland. All of this was very normal and I really enjoyed it. The students are able to drink a glass of wine with the teachers so that it won’t become a problem like in Finland it probably would.

Okay, now to a less nice thing. Though the teachers are really nice and friendly, the grading system really sucks here. I can’t wait on this sense that I will get back to Finland. For example we may get 100% of our grade from ONE paper! I don’t really get it. You have to participate 80% but no one really cares if you attend or not by discussing, telling your experiences or knowing the answers. You could basically sleep on the classes, write a good paper and get a good grade. On the other hand you can really participate and fail on the paper because you miss something small you thought is not important to mention. Like our group did on the project plan. Well, luckily we can do a re-sit. Ps. I have never before failed. Student of average 4.1 in Finland (grading system 1-5) gets 3.5 in the NL (grading system 1-10 and you pass with 5.5). Good side of this is that I won’t trust anymore that much that I will always pass 😉

Oh, after the excursion I went to see my friend Sjoerd in Meppel. I asked for a nice and relaxing days without stressing about anything. He brought me to two different forrests! How nice is that? I was so happy!

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Reading holiday

Hi you! (Happy halloween!)

Do you Finnish people remember the holidays before the huge exams for graduating from Highschool? The crazy exams where you sit the whole day and write so much that your hand will paralyse.. Well, apparently the crazy Dutch people have that in Hogeschool four times a year. You have a week or two to read and then you need to hand in some papers and do exams. Wish me luck!

Because it’s called a reading HOLIDAY, I had Sami here visiting me. That week was absolutely great and I didn’t give even a thought for the studies. We visited Amsterdam, den Haag and Rotterdam. We also followed a tour called Utrecht Underground. It was led by an ex drug addict/homeless. It was a totally new view of the city and it was super interesting. I recommend it to all of you. We also went to see a movie and stand-up comedy at dB’s. I really needed this break from the studies 🙂

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Ps. I was watching old pictures and I just can’t wait for next summer!

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Studying, experiencing and studying

The time has been flying. Unfortunately not only in the nice way. I have been in my apartment reading, reading and reading. I have felt that there is absolutely no time to do anything else. Luckily my dear friend, Mari came from Finland to visit me and I had to leave the studying for a while and concentrate on experiencing the country.

We climbed to the Dom, ate bataten, rookworst and stroopwafels, visited a forrest party and Amsterdam, met some local people and laughed really much. I was a bit sick, but the rest was really nice.

Will miss her again.

Give your camera to someone and this is how it turns up :D

A DJ in a shop……

I also went with my friends to this comedy show in Florin. They had it the first time in that bar and it was really succesfull I think. I enjoyed it very much and even was part of the show 😉 Hopefully they will do another comedy evening there soon. We also heard that they have a cheap dinner (6€) there every Monday and Tuesday, so we went there the next day.

At the comedy night one of the comedians said that Dutch people don’t let foreigners learn Dutch. They start talking English. I have totally experienced this. I have said to several people that please talk Dutch to me, but they just continue in English or demand me to talk Dutch back. Luckily there is now two people who have agreed to talk Dutch to me! I’m so happy of the discussions with them. I should just hear as much Dutch as possible and start using it also myself. I do feel better about it already.

On Friday I went for a dinner to one of Hogeschool’s teachers. I haven’t seen her ever before so it was quite strange. We’re going with one of my classmates on her class on monday to tell about the Finnish and Belgian social work system, so she wanted to invite us and talk a bit with us and get to known that we’re not so nervous of coming in the class. It was actually really nice. I recommend all of you to really take the offered opportunities. I have been doing a lot more things here in the Netherlands than in Finland I would ever do in a month. This is something I would really like to bring with me to Finland and never forget it. Don’t stay always at home thinking how much homeworks do you still have to do. Sometimes it will just load your battery and you can focuse better on your assignments when you do also fun things.

You might see something nice when you go out.

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Finally doing things

I have been really busy.

I still felt somewhat bad for couple of days after the last post, but I decided to do something about it. The worst thing was that I stayed in my room doing basically nothing. I went to my grandparents to pick pears with my dad. There was seriously freaking much of them! We got eight boxes full of those from one tree.

 

After that I had some boring days, but my Dutch course started. So now I have a place to practise a bit. Also I met a nice German girl there and I met her and her friends on Thursday. It was an ESN (erasmus student network) party where they announced the winners of the city race. It wasn’t that fun because the place was crowded and I was really tired and knew that I have to wake up for school around 7am. So we decided to celebrate Friday the 13th in one girl’s apartment in Zeist which is about 8-9km from my apartment. That evening was “erg leuk”, I enjoyed a lot. We talked also about serious stuff and it was nice to hear opinions from people all around the world.

On Friday the 13th I became a citizen of Utrecht. They organise a day for exchange students when they can do that with the help of International Office, but I just couldn’t wait. You need to be a citizen to be able to open your bank account and get a pinpas. I’m fed up with not being able to pay anything with card so I try to handle that now as soon as possible.

On Saturday one of my Dutch friends contacted me and we met the same day to catch up and see the city together. I had no idea that he had all kinds of plans to entertain me. He was really thoughtful and told me all kinds of basic stuff about the Netherlands (forgetting a bit that I’m half Dutch and it’s not all new to me) and I laughed much. He’s great. We ate fresh stroopwafels, played pool and then went to a restaurant. After that we met my classmate and the three of us went to see a light artwork path made by art students of Utrecht. We had to load an app to a phone and we followed the map on it and read stuff from the artworks and buildings. It was really interesting and some of the artworks were really pretty.

Today I also had a “busy” day with seeing my other Dutch friend. We went around the old canal of Urtecht with a pedal boat, talked a lot, watched pictures and ate. It was really nice to see him after this long time and I got the hugs I needed 🙂 Also the weather was really on our side. When he left it was raining but we had some really sunny moments while pedaling in the canal.

Art for the people in the canal

^I’m very sorry for the pictures being so stupidly, but I just can’t get the logic of this website.. It just throws the pictures where ever it wants to. Pff.. Also some of these pictures are made with my phone, so I’m sorry for the quality as well.

People keep asking from me that what’s the strangest/hardest thing in Utrecht/the Netherlands. I still have the same answer: cyclists.
They do weird stuff on their bikes. Lovers are holding hands, texting, they’re dragging luggage on wheels next to themselves or even one friend saw a guy carrying a couch for two on his bike.. And they’re awfully angry if you’re walking on the bike path. I have got used to that the walker is the most wounerable and that’s why he’s also the most important one. Here the cyclists are the kings.

So. Here is a picture of my bike and a cat who likes to sleep on it!

One other funny thing in here is that people have big windows and when you’re walking around in the evening, it’s almost like channel surfing. Only with regular peoples’ lives. They don’t close the curtains. You can see someone playing guitar, the other one watching tv, third one cleaning and so on. Exciting, but I still do close my curtains in the evening.

~Tot ziens!~

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Pictures from today

+30 degrees and I had a boring day. And when it’s boring, you start to miss home. I needed some friendly faces and words, but got yelled on the street, creepy old Dutch men. Luckily the weather is sunny and the small gingerbread houses are still making me smile. Look at that little one in the middle of the other bigger houses! How cute is that?!


Almost alone

It’s been a week now, the woman who rents the house to me and my roommate left and we’re just the two of us in here.

I had my first real school day yesterday and the classmates seem to be really interesting and nice. We have a group of 12 women plus four teachers who really know their field. I was super excited yesterday because their subjects are so interesting and they were talking understandable English and told lots of examples from real life. Also the fact that there are students from abroad makes the lessons and discussions more variant. We worked yesterday with stereotypes and it was quite disturbing how earily we recognized all the countries. But I was a bit offended that in Finland there wasn’t anything about the hot blondes like in Sweden and Norway. I have a feeling though that we will have lots of homework and independent studying. I’m a bit worried about that because I stress so easily. Maybe I just have to decide to start on time with the assignments. That’s a good idea I guess.

I have been walking around the city also alone the last days. I’m still not brave enough to go very far from the house yet because the first night in Utrecht the landlady took us out and asked me that where is the house. I pointed in totally wrong direction. Also the first day I went to the Hogeschool, I got a bit lost and it took 40 minutes to get there. The way is about 5 km and it takes about 15-20min to cycle. Cycling goes here like flying. Except that your ass starts to hurt quite soon because you really sit on the saddle. In Finland I usually just lean on it and cycle also a part by standing because we have so many hills. I calculated that I will cycle about 560km during my stay here. And that’s only the way to school and back.

Btw, you can even see the tip of the Dom from our bathroom window! So we’re really in the middle of the city. Still it feels somehow more quiet place than our apartment in Jyväskylä. Maybe because there is only few cars passing by here. People are cycling and walking more because it’s almost impossible to find a parking space from here.

Anyway I’m starting to feel better now. The school seems to be interesting, the small gingerbread houses are lovely and maybe I will also find a friend or two ; ) Oh, and I really missed stroopwafels and rookworst which everyone visiting the Netherlands should try. Still I feel kind of homesick. Need a hug or something. I was also wondering about the culture schock. In my case it might be different because this country and its culture aren’t that new for me. We will see.

Lots of love
Evelina


The last days in Finland and first ones in the Netherlands

The last days in Finland were actually quite horrible. It was all about “the last times”.

 

  • The last time I had to do the dishes
  • The last youth evening
  • The last time I heard the tower of Harju to play its song
  • The last time I’m seeing my classmates
  • The last time I’m telling lousy jokes to my boyfriend Sami and laughing my ass off because I even said the joke wrong and it didn’t make any sense. (I’m a lousy joke-teller.)
  • The last time I was on a camp where happens something I have never experienced before

So all these “last times” made me really emotional and I apologize Sami for that. Still I had some wonderful time. I met people I love and spent time with them. The very last evening I spent in Finland I saw the most amazing sunset. I just stood there and watched it thinking how much I will miss the forests, lakes and my closest ones. But I was smiling then. When you miss someone, you know that he/she is important for you. Plus that this won’t be the last time for anything. As so many have already said to me: 5 months is not a long time. Probably when I leave the Netherlands, I will have these same feelings towards this country.

Thanks guys for the last days in Finland

 

I arrived the Netherlands on Wednesday. I don’t know how I always happen to get all the screaming kids behind me to shake my seat!! But when I got to the destination, the weather was great, not Dutch at all 😉 We visited Apenheul and my grandparents, which was nice. Today I had the introduction day in the Hogeschool Utrecht. I’m staying at the moment in Wageningen with my family, but tomorrow I’m going to move in Utrecht.

The introduction day was nice. I saw the international students of my class (5) and they seemed to be nice. There is also one Finnish girl! In total there is about 13 on our class, so I guess that it will be intensive learning and getting to know each other which is great. Also our schoolbuilding is outstanding! There is lots of small groupwork rooms, different colours, a theatre and all kinds of exciting details. I really have to take pictures from there one day and show to you. It’s a bit different than our white classrooms.

Anyway I’m quite overwhelmed with all the new information, so it’s all stuck in my head and I can’t get it on the paper. Maybe next time I can get a bit more of it out when I’m blogging. Let’s hope so.

Ps. Visa Electron or Visa aren’t working here almost at all. Have to get a Dutch bank account as soon as possible.

 


It’s getting closer

So, here I am. Starting to write my blog for the exchange in the Netherlands. It’s again a new thing which brings me closer to realizing that I’m going for real. I have been sure that I’m going for an exchange for years now and Holland has been the only option. I want to learn the language. My dad is a Dutch but we have never lived in his home country. Communicating with my opa en oma (gandparents) has been hard because they don’t talk English and I only understand Dutch. Talking is a lot harder.

Although I kind of have been preparing myself for this already for years, it has been such a distant idea which happens one day in my future. It’s really scary to realize that I’m leaving next month. I’m also leaving my boyfriend here in Jyväskylä and that’s not easy either. Luckily he’s really supportive and promised to come and visit me once or twice. We will survive 5 months. But maybe all the waiting and dreaming of this actually makes it harder to leave. What if all the expectations I have aren’t going to happen?

Anyway I’m going to leave and try to make it the best I can do.

For everyone who are leaving to the Netherlands for an exchange: Don’t listen the depressing talks about “you will never find an apartment/room from Utrecht (or where ever you are going)!! It’s totally impossible and really expensive!”

I will tell you the truth. Yes, it isn’t easy because the Netherlands is so crowded, but it’s the same in Jyväskylä. There is more students than apartments. But it’s not harder than in Jyväskylä. Just start looking at those in time. I started looking even before I got the approval and I recommend you to do it aswell, it will anyway take a lot of time to close the deal and discuss via e-mail. The website I used was www.kamernet.nl and it worked well. I found a room from a three-storey apartment and I will share it with a Canadian exchange student. 350€ including water, electricity etc. That’s not more expensive than in Finland, isn’t it? But yeah, my room will be really small. I don’t need a bigger one exspecially when I can use the rest of the house aswell.

 

One thing which really concerns me is: How on Earth am I going to make my whole life fit in one suitcase?? The camps or holidays I can manage, but 5 months?

 

Greetings from sunny Finland

~Evelina


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