A very warm welcome again to my blog. I’m already halfway my semester in Finland, it’s unbelievable how time flies when you’re having fun, <- cliché alert. The past weeks I’ve mostly spend on my courses in school to follow the program the way it is meant to be. It’s been an enormous treat the way I’ve been welcomed to the inner circle of the Finnish countryside students. Apparently, the spring this year has been abnormally cold, even for Finnish standards. This makes it hard to relax outside and as such I spend most of my time indoors. With the other students I play volleyball, floorball and relax in bars. Even they are getting quite sick of the snow and ice, and think it’s time for some warmer days. However, those are not coming soon unfortunately.
Lucky as I am though, I did have a taste of some warmer climates elsewhere. During Easter, I flew to Madrid where I spend the weekend with my parents and other family members. It took me a long time to travel there from Central Finland but it was definitely worth it to spend some time with my brothers again. We don’t get to see each other that often so we go through great lengths for just a few days together.
As I mentioned earlier, I spend most of my time doing the necessities for my school studies. The courses were going well and I learned a lot about the subjects and my fellow students. It was nice to realize the cultural differences and how we could strengthen projects by using influences both from Finland and from The Netherlands. Around the same time as Easter I met a man called Kimmo, he was a teacher at the JAMK biocampus and I would spend a lot of time with him the coming weeks. As part of my theme studies I would learn about Finnish forest upkeep. This is such a large part of the Finnish landscape that it is actually part of Finnish farm life as well. Kimmo lives in a renovated farm with 23 ha of land of which 18 ha is forest. He was going to teach me about the effort it takes to keep such a vast area up. A very interesting subject because it is about creating a true sustainable environment that lasts generations.
As such, we started on the first lessons of handling a chainsaw, clearing saws, a tractor, grappling hook and much more. I’d like to start off with the most important lesson I learned during this process. Fins hold safety very dear to them. Working with large equipment and instruments requisites your utmost attention. Over the next few weeks we would clean, repair and work with chainsaws that are dangerous if not handled with care. Cutting down my first tree though, was exhilarating, I won’t be able to deny that. However, the cycle a productive forest is constantly in requires so much more than just cutting down trees for timber or firewood. It needs thinning, clearing, planting and sometimes even fertilizing. Working with Kimmo was a revelation. For me engaging practically was nice alongside my other courses, I learned and worked at the same time. Beside the tasks we had together, he also let me into his personal life. I met his wife and I often ate with them. Because of this I learned even more about the Finnish culture and their habits.
During all this time, it shouldn’t be forgotten that I still had a great time in the Finnish countryside. It may have been cold, I still often went outside to enjoy the forest by a walk or a run. With my mountain bike, I undertook plenty of excursions. Some of which may have been a bit too much as the Finnish hills can suck the breath out of your lungs.
I love it though, I love the Finnish landscape and its infinite sights of trees and lakes. I love being here and breathing in this cold but truly fresh air. The Finnish sunsets are unheard of in most parts of the world, but let me tell you. They are amazing. You don’t wait for the sunset, no, you wait for when the sun has already set. Following the sunset come the most astonishing views your brain can’t even imagine. I love the yellow sun being followed by the red clouds and their seemingly endless glow in the water. I love Finland.