This is only one way of saying Hi in Finland!
In this edition, I would like to familiarize you with a few lifestyle habits in Finland that I experienced when I moved here to study. I moved in within just two months of leaving Skopje so you will easily relate to my perspective. By the time you read my story it will have been exactly 10 months since I arrived to the land of lakes and forests. It is like an undiscovered country far up in northern Europe; you will find pure nature, clean water and dense forest all the way to the horizon.
Jyväsjärvi, Jyväskylä, Finland
Pic. 2. Myllyjärvi, Jyväskylä, Finland
A flash back to August 2016:
This is the 2nd time that I have lived abroad for a long period of time away from my family.What makes this experience different from the previous ones is that I had no idea where I was going! At least I knew things about Macedonia and I had lived there before, but Finland?! No! I had never been to Finland and my information about it is limited to some YouTube videos and Wikipedia, which is just enough to have some general information but not enough for living in a place. One thing you might not know is that Finns refer to their country as “Suomi”, which means Finland, and their language as “Suomalainen”. The Finnish language is nothing like the languages you may often hear.
Pic. 3. University of Jyväskylä, Mathematics and Science campus, Jyväskylä, Finland
There are different stages in immigration, no matter your reason for immigrating. The first is “the honeymoon phase”, when you are so excited with the new environment, exploring and having a positive mind-set. For me, this was a very short period. The second is “rejection”, when you start realizing the things that make you uncomfortable like the language barrier or struggling with transportation and so on. I did not speak a word of Finnish and I did not put any effort to learn before coming here, since I was informed that I could find my way with English. I did not worry. Plus, with all the confidence that I had learning Macedonian, I said “Yes! I will learn Finnish as well”, but I was so wrong. The truth is that I have still survived with English but you will live in your bubble most often by not speaking the local language. This is true anywhere in the world. By this time, I had settled down in my new flat. It was empty and I only had an air mattress to sleep on for the first couple of weeks until I finally got the time to get some furniture and make the place feel like home.
KOAS student residence, Myllyjärvi, Jyväskylä, Finland
The weather in August and September wasenchanting; the colorful autumn leaves thatreworded over the city make it even more beautiful. There were times when I would stop in the middle of the road just to appreciate the scenery. I could not believe I was living inthe middle of a forest with fresh air. Soon, we all got busy with university tasks and days passed without even being able to have a cup of tea with a friend. In those moments, I missed how easy and quick we used to hang out with my friends in Aerodrom or Centar back in Skopje. I was recalling the beautiful autumn I spent there last year when I was still in the honeymoon phase.
University of Jyväskylä, Mattilaniemi campus
Time passed very quickly and winter showed up in November, decorating the city with its white garniture. As you may know, Finland is the land of Santa Claus, the snowy winter is extremely beautiful and snow covers everything; it remains like that until April. The lakes freeze and are used for ice-skating. The ice-hockey season will start and although one life ends and nature goes into hibernation, another life begins with all the winter activities and tours. One that should not be forgotten to mention is the Aurora Borealis, or known as the Northern Lights, truly magical, it resembles silky colorful piece of fabric waving by angles in the sky.
University of Jyväskylä, Mathematics and Science campus, Jyväskylä, Finland
Roninmäki beach, Jyväskylä, Finland
A must-do activity in Finland is “avanto”, orice swimmingfor us (people from relatively warm countries!). It is highly recommended to let youradventurousness take over and jump into an icy lake(you will likely find one behind your apartment) and then straight to the sauna to enjoy a relaxing time.You can also enjoy a hike in the forest, though you should ideally do this in summer because you will get to pick fresh berries and mushrooms and bake a typical delicious blueberry pie. You must be careful which mushrooms and which berries you pick though, as some are toxic!
Roninmäki hill, Jyväskylä, Finland/ taken by Afra P. Fekri
Pic. 9. KOAS student residence, Myllyjärvi, Jyväskylä, Finland
Now it is mid-May and spring has finally arrived in Finland. Snow occasional falls, but the birds are singing, the ground is clear of snow piles and the lakes are no longer frozen. There are buds on trees and it will be mesmerizing within a couple of weeks. Now I can say I am in the 3rd stage of immigration which is “adjustment”; I have found my way through daily life necessities and I know where to go shopping and I don’t get lost on my way to the university anymore.
Jyväskylä sub-region, Finland
It is the last week of the semester now and many students are impatient to go back to their families and friends. Some have left the country for good and some will come back after thesummer break. I am impatient to visit Skopje again, have coffee in Menada or Gorki, feeling again like it is my second home.
Harju, Jyväskylä, Finland
Written by Afra P. Fekri
Edited by D.G. Yntiso