My time in Finland is coming to an end. I’ve made lots of new friends and I’ve truly learned a great deal about the Finnish culture and, to summarize my study shortly, their natural resources. I passed my courses at the biocampus and now I only have one more challenge left. Last week I moved to the city of Jyväskylä which is 63 kilometers south of Saarijärvi. It’s a small city with, in comparison, a great number of students. Located next to a lake I think it’s absolutely lovely. I will surely have a great last three weeks here. This month I will spend on two courses about quality management and leadership combined with a bit of partying. It already feels good to have more people around me and to have the opportunity to do more things.
Let’s start this blog with my last few weeks in Saarijärvi. The weather has remained cold and frankly it has become quite irritating. But, I keep my head held high when I see messages from The Netherlands with an astonishing 30 ֯C, I wouldn’t like that anyway. No, here in Saarijärvi it remains around 10 ֯C during the day. Still, I do a lot of sport outside and spend a lot of time taking long walks. To be honest, I do long a little to go home. Not because of any nostalgia. No, just because I would like to spend some time with my friends and family. The town and school are emptying with most Fins going to their homes or summer jobs anyway.
My loving girlfriend Isabel visited me last weekend. This was also my last weekend in Saarijärvi and Tarvaala. It was a great ending to my time there and surely delightful to show her around in a place that I had come to know and love so dear. I actually had the whole weekend completely booked with activities so we were basically busy all the time. An absolute plus was that I had come to make a lot of new friends. Therefore, we were able to enjoy Finland at quite a low price. A free to use cottage at a beautiful lake with attached sauna was probably the highlight of our trip. I took Isabel in the sauna and afterwards she followed me into the cold water, though with hesitation. We had a splendid time and for me it was great to enjoy the country without the constant pressure of school lurking over me. A true vacation for the both of us.
When Isabel and I used the cottage at the lake, not only did we jump in the lake later, we also tried the so called “vihta” when in the sauna. This is a kind of whip made from summer birch twigs bound together. As a 23-year young man with, after being with my girlfriend for the first time in 2,5 months, too much testosterone. Something was bound to happen. Apparently, this “vihta” is supposed to be used gentle which will stimulate blood circulation and give fresh aroma. I thought something different. In my head, I had to use this instrument to really wake up my skin, just like ice swimming does. So, I smacked this thing all over and couldn’t get it to really hurt. Well, it shouldn’t. The next morning however, my back had some nice subcutaneous bleedings. Isabel had a good laugh when I stood up and she saw my bare back, covered in lacerations. Anyway, we did love the fresh birch aroma’s. A completely new smell that Isabel and I will now share as a memory together.
Overall my time in Finland has been a great success. I can definitely recommend coming here to any student thinking of it. However, I do have to warn these people on coming to Saarijärvi. It’s most likely completely different from your hometown. For me it was fantastic to have the calm and quiet of Central Finland, but if you’re more into busy city life you might want to reconsider. Maybe a different place is a better choice. Such vast areas of nothing but trees and lakes, combined with very little people around you, require a strength to undertake new things every day. Sure, it’s appealing to stay in your room and watch Netflix. But that won’t bring you new experiences and adventures. Like I said, I’ve learned a lot about Finland. However, I think I’ve learned even more about myself. Spending time with nothing but myself and nature has turned me into a more self-aware and hopefully better person.