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Experience of a lifetime

Now that I’m back in Finland and back in Jyväskylä, it’s time to try to sum up the last few months. I won’t say that I loved every second of my time in Croatia because that isn’t true. But that’s all part of the pattern almost everyone goes through when starting something new.

Step 1: Going for an exchange to Croatia was a big step for me. I have never before traveled alone or had to manage things by myself like that. I was afraid to go and hesitated about leaving. I can’t thank my boyfriend and parents enough for being so supportive and practically forcing me to go.

Step 2: The first month in Croatia was filled with excitement and exploring new things. Even going to a bakery or grocery store felt like an experience.

Step 3: At one point I was so lonely, homesick and sick of studying that I was counting days to get back to Finland. I didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere. I just felt like staying at my moldy apartment and crying.

Step 4: I felt really stupid when I realized the situation I was feeling sorry for myself in. I also got some new energy since I was half way of my trip. I realized there’s really not much time to waste. I went to Ljubljana, Bled, Belgrade and Rijeka. I got to know some amazing people and saw some amazing places.

Step 5: Now, over four months and five countries later I have no regrets. It truly was an experience of a lifetime. There are moments when I find myself looking at pictures from Zagreb, from my home streets. There are even moments when I don’t feel like home in Jyväskylä. “Having to” speak Finnish everywhere feels boring. Everything is the same as it was when I left. It’s just me that’s changed.

 

Our time is running out

It’s already December, I have less than two weeks of school left and in exactly two weeks from now I’m already in the plane on my way back to Finland. I have to say I’m really happy to go back home. I miss the people and I’m really exited about returning to Jyväskylä. I’m also a bit stressed about going back because there’s so much I want to do before I go.

School is really hectic. Last week was probably the most effective week I’ve had in Croatia so far. Although having an ear infection and probably fever, I managed to hold two group presentations, go to school, go to the Christmas Markets two nights in a row and travel to Belgrade for the weekend. This week is also very busy. I had an exam yesterday, I have to finish doing my website for E-business, there’s one presentation on Wednesday and there’s a really hard exam coming on Monday.

Despite this all, I hope I’ll have some time to hang around the Christmas Markets this week also. Christmas Markets in Zagreb are truly adorable and magical. There’s cooked wine and live music everywhere you go, beautiful lights, little booths selling stuff and an outdoor ice rink! I feel like I’ve fallen in love with this city all over again. I guess it’s normal to feel sad about leaving too…

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Recently, I have also used my weekends efficiently. Two weeks ago I went to Ljubljana and Bled in Slovenia. Ljubljana was a wonderful place, smaller than Zagreb, peaceful and beautiful, and colder! That’s where I got a cold and the ear infection. But I had a good time, met some nice people and saw some nice places, here’s some pictures from my trip:

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Next weekend two friends came for a visit and we hung around in Zagreb. And this weekend, as I said, I took a bus to Belgrade. The size of the city really surprised me. Belgrade is almost twice the size of Zagreb. Unofficially, there are about 1,8 million people in Belgrade. That’s why just a weekend felt like a too short time to stay there. There were some things I would’ve liked to see, but I just didn’t have the time. Here’s some pictures from Belgrade. In the first pictures, there’s some main sights and in the second pictures, there are some of the buildings that Nato bombed on 1999. I really got the feeling that people don’t want to talk about the war or the recent history otherwise. Only the buildings tell about the history. The people just want to party. It’s actually a tad irritating.

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That’s it for now. I started writing this post because I’m trying to avoid school work but now I have to get a grip already. Until next time!