Finnische Flagge im Wind

Exchange student’s life in Vaasa


NB! Dieser Artikel wurde von der Litauerin Jone Sakalyte als Gastautoren geschrieben und mit ihrer Genehmigung veröffentlicht.

Even being an exchange student in Vaasa, it is not easy to answer the question how is life as an Erasmus student in Finland. What to write appeared to be the most difficult question to answer. What can be interesting for Finnish students, what they would like to find out about us?

I have decided to start with a small fragment of conversation between exchange students.

“How are you here?”, asked Li, a guy from China, when he came back after a month visiting Germany. “Nice, but incredibly cold!”, answered Ben.

It points out two main things, the most common opinions about this place and Finland as a whole: cold and fun.

Temperature is always on the topic. The evidence – weather indicator on Nick’s home page in the Internet. Guessing how low it may go and how to survive this is starting to get exciting. Step by step we are getting used to that but at first…

You should have seen some of exchanges in the beginning of October. Poor things! They put on all their clothes: two sweaters, jacket, shawl, a cap, gloves and all the stuff that original Finnish wears only during real winter (January or February). Some of them have never been in such cold before. In Cyprus the lowest temperature that has ever been is +5 Celsius (in winter). Can you imagine how they live here?

But I still haven’t heard any complaints or regrets about choosing Finland as a country to live in for four months. Contrarily, all or at least most of exchanges are happy and trying to enjoy the life. “Think positive”. We face every strange thing as a challenge that we have to surmount.

Cold isn’t a problem anymore. We are enjoying it. Especially snow. Most of us have never seen so much real snow and probably will never see it again. It may seem childish but we are building snowmen, organizing snowball fights (new invention – snowball fight in sauna) or just jumping into snowdrift to see our figures on it. No one wants to stay at home when it’s so beautiful outside. But not for too long. It’s cold anyway.

One more challenge – different people and their ways of living. We have spent already a little more than two months here but we still find surprising facts about each other and the Finnish. The most difficult task is to communicate. I don’t mean a language. At the beginning our English skills were not excellent (and still are not) but communication wasn’t a problem. It’s more unusual to talk with Finnish people. Sometimes it seems „mission impossible“.

Mostly all of exchanges sharing apartment with Finnish student can say only two things about him or her.

  1. 1No sound confirming their existence. The only way to know whether your roommate is at home is to check if his coat is hanging in a hallway.
  2. Not too much talking. Good morning and good night usually is all that you can be awarded.

But one may be lucky and share apartment with a student who has been studying abroad. That’s a new kind. The same as our tutors. And we love them. But sometimes a question arises: are they really Finnish?

You can answer correctly in a bar. Drinking and having parties – that’s what Finnish people like to do the most. We also like parties. And drinking but not so much. It seems that a word “enough” does not exist in Finnish language or at least for Finnish. One can argue that it’s a western European point of view. But all those drinking traditions were surprising for Russians too. Can you call them Western?

I am not going to write about studies in Vaasa on university. Learning was not the main reason for coming here. And we are not going to bother ourselves by doing this. Not while staying in Vaasa. There are too many things to see, places to visit, people to talk with. Time here runs so quickly. Al least twice faster than at home. We go to the library just for checking our e-mails. That’s all. Let’s hope now that none of the lecturers will read this article.

At the end let me say how great is to be an exchange student. No matter where. You wake up every morning being somewhere far away from your home, everyday life that had started to be annoying, old friends and family, your room, ordinary food. But you get out of the bed smiling and looking forward a new starting day, seeing new friends, meeting strangers, trying to adapt and to create a temporary home here in Vaasa. Sure sometimes we cry but usually we laugh and party.