Posts in Finland
A walk with Eve in Nuuksio

On a rainy Saturday lovely Eve and I made an appointment for a walk in the Nuuksio Nationalpark. Since I wanted to visit my little oak tree once again before I leave Finland and Eve lives very close to the national park we decided to meet for a stroll through the forest and to say Hi to Little Puu. 

After we finally found each other at the Espoo train station, we made our way up North to Kattila, a northern entrance to the National park. We went by car and while we were driving through the Finnish landscape, passing the forests and red wooden cottages, we talked and laughed and got to know each other better. We almost lost our way, since I only remembered the way from when we went for the tree planting, but we managed to find Kattila and arrived in the light rain a little later. 

 After visiting my little oak tree, we made our way into the forest while it was raining slightly. I remember we talked about a thousand of things. Eve is a wonderful and fascinating human being and we didn't run out of topic to talk about. It always makes me so happy to meet people that share my passions and interests and I have so much in common with! We left the official path to pick some last blueberries from the bushes. We've been amazed how many have been left since the blueberry season has been almost over. There have been little red dots of lingonberries on the ground but also lots of blueish ones. We filled our kuksas (the wooden cups) with delicious berries and enjoyed the refreshing and natural snack.  

I don't know how much time we've spent between the bushes picking berries, but after a long while we went back on the track, our fingers dyed blue and red by the berries. Our tummies and hearts filled with new energy we continued our walk deeper into the forest. The woods have been covered in slight misty rain and I thought it looked very mystic and calm. We walked and walked and walked before we made our way up a little hill hoping to find a spot from where we had a view over the forest. Sadly, we didn't find such a spot but instead, we sat down under some trees to have some tea and watch the forest and the quietness. 

Later on, we made our way back to the car and went back to Helsinki. We listened to Of Monsters And Men in the car and sang along, and it has been the perfect soundtrack while driving back through the misty forests. I still remember that I came home feeling lots of love and happiness and excitement because the forests filled my heart with peace, and meeting Eve inspired me so very much - she is such a wonderful soul and I feel very happy that I've been able to meet her. I hope it wasn't the last time! Moreover, I have been overjoyed to see Little Puu another time before I left home for Germany. My little tree had already grown some baby leaves! I am really excited how it will look like when I come back there the next time. 

The forests make my heart beating faster and my soul jumping of joy!

Say Hi to Eve

here

!

Planting my own oak tree in Nuuksio // Finnish Nature Day

On the 25th of August, I arrived in Helsinki in the evening after almost missing my flight, because I got to the airport too late due to a delay of the train. I left my suitcase at the door of the hotel room and jumped on the bed right away. Tiina had picked me up from the railway station and we walked to the hotel together, while I felt like a ghost walking through the streets where I once lived. The hectic of the day and all the feelings felt pretty overwhelming that first night back in Helsinki. Therefore we spent the rest of the day in bed, talking and updating, and falling asleep soon after. 

The next day we woke up early to get ready to get picked up in front of the hotel for our trip to the Nuuksio Nationalpark. Part of the price by VisitFinland was planting our own tree in Nuuksio, and so Tiina and I, and the two other winners plus their company made our way to Haltia, where we were supposed to meet our nature guides. That Saturday, the 26th of August, has been the National Finnish Nature and also Flag Day, so many people came together at the Haltia Nature center to watch the celebrations. First, we had some lunch with national Finnish delicacies and a beautiful view over the forest, then we watched a group of singers presenting the flag song before we made our way up to Kattila to plant our trees. I still can't get over the most beautiful lunch in the Nature Center, the view from the window was amazing while we enjoyed the food!

A photographer wanted to take a photo of the three winners so we posed in front of the Nature Center. 

Up in Kattila, which is one of the main entrances to Nuuksio, we stopped by some fields in front of the forest to plant the trees. Each of us got a shovel, a little oak tree and a sign with our names on it. I've got so happy when I saw my name on that cupper plate and watched the two other digging their holes and placing their trees before it was my turn. This short planting ceremony and giving my baby tree to the earth caused such a rush of endorphins in my body that I couldn't stop smiling while digging a hole and placing the sign. I feel so proud to be a tree-mother now and to call an oak tree my own. A part of me will live in this national park forever, even if my soul will leave this earth one day. I called my little baby tree "Little Puu" which is the Finnish word for tree. I hope it will grow big and wise into the sky and get very very old! Before I returned to Germany, I went to see my tree another time and it already grew some leaves - I am so excited to see how it will look like in a few years. My heart is jumping of joy!

After planting the trees and taking some photos with them, we made our way back to Haukkalampi (the entrance of the park where I usually went to) through the forest. The sun was still shining for a little while before it started raining shortly after and we continued our walk in the cold for what felt like forever. But we picked some last blueberries of the season which made it a little better.

Back in Haukkalampi were waiting for a concert in the woods by a Finnish choir. Tiina and I spent some time sitting at the water watching the trees and resting for a while before we also made our way to the spot where the concert should take place. The choir was sitting on some upper rocks and the sounds echoed into far distances. It was so magical to listen! After some time we left the crowd and sat down on a rock a little further away looking at the forest and water while listening to the songs in the background. It started raining again after a while and so we decided to walk back to the car which brought us back to Helsinki then. When we arrived back at the hotel, I took a shower and went to bed, exhausted but very happy. That day has been so exciting and will definitely stay in my mind for a very long time! I am still very grateful that I've got that great opportunity to come back to Finland and to plant my own little oak tree! 

After this I stayed two more weeks in Helsinki to spend time with my friends but I will share some more photos soon! Take care of yourself and have a wonderful Sunday! Lots of love to you! Hej da!

Photos by Antti Huttunen, Roland Degiampietro and myself

Hello from Finland // A dip in the sea

Hei Hei from Finland! I am so sorry, I haven't given a sign of life on here the past couple of days. After arriving in Helsinki when I almost missed my flight, I felt pretty confused and overwhelmed by all feelings and impressions I had returning here after three months. I spent a lovely time in the hotel and had a great time at the Finnish Nature Day planting my tree in the Nuuksio forest. You might have seen a little video I filmed (

here

) but there will also follow some photos and stories here soon! Now I moved to Tiina's place where we just spent our time watching movies since it is gray and rainy here the past two days, went for a little trip into the city and go for walks in the forests. We found some wild raspberries and also the last blueberries of this season. A few seconds ago I came home from a run near the shore where I took a dip in the sea. The cold water felt so good and although my feet felt numb afterwards I felt so alive! Finland does me good and I enjoy my time here to its fullest. I feel like a bird being able to fly again! I will share more photos and adventures soon, I just decided to go day by day and do what feels good. My time here is limited and I don't wanna miss a single second. Lots of love to you! I hope you are all doing fine! 

10 things the year in Finland taught me

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you slept well and enjoyed the morning with your favourite breakfast and the sun greeting you. I woke up shortly after six and made my way to the stables again to take care of the horses. In contrast to yesterday, this morning it wasn't raining, but the fields were covered in morning mist and the sunrise looked so very magical. The sun rays made their way through the trees and created an enchanting view while I made my way to the farmstead. I was done with work quite quickly and enjoyed some waffles from the previous day, they have been a little chewy but delicious after two hours of work. Afterwards, I enjoyed the sun and went home to have a real breakfast and rest a little longer in bed. 

Now I am sitting here at the open window and decided to finally write about the ten things that my stay in Finland taught me. I wanted to write this post for a very long time now, but somehow I didn't feel ready yet the past two and a half months. But since at the end of this month it will be one year ago that I packed my suitcase and went to the airport to fly to Helsinki, I now feel fine with telling you what I learned during my time abroad. So here are 10 things that my year in Finland taught me and that made me into the person I am now!

  • 1 | SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO GO - When I left the home I grew up almost twelve months ago, I was ready to go. I was ready to leave everything and everyone behind and start anew. Of course, I did not leave my family behind and I knew it was just temporary but still, I felt like this was my chance to start a new beginning. To finally go to the north and start a life in a surrounding I feel home. I have never been to Finland before but I already knew that it would feel like home, I just knew it. I left Germany with a light heart and leaving all my troubles and all my sorrow here I went there with an open soul and an open mind, free to absorb every single new experience and adventure. And after the first few weeks and also now that I am back home, I realized that sometimes you have to leave things behind, you need to go to get some distance between you and certain people, certain places - even certain troubles that are just in your head. Moving somewhere else often offers you a clean canvas you can start re-painting from the beginning - a whole new start. That's what it has been for me. Finland has been a new start for me.

  • 2 | YOU ARE NOT ALONE - A thing I missed the past couple of years and the reason why I started to share my thoughts and passions here and on other social networks has been the lack of people I am friends with in my hometown. In the town I grew up, I have no friends that share my interests, that have the same hobbies or with whom I could meet to have a walk in the woods or a painting session for example. I like to be on my own, but sometimes I wished I would have someone to share the beautiful things of life with. When I came to Finland I stayed at Tiina's place for the first couple of days since I got the keys to my apartment only a few days after my arrival. We already got to know each other via messenger before I flew over and got along very well. But when I think back now, I would have never imagined that this sweet little fairy could steal such a big part of my heart and become my best friend. I remember all the wonderful and funny and crazy hilarious moments we spent together. All the adventures in the forests, pizza on the sofa, talks about men and troubles, open-mic gigs where she was my biggest supporter in the front row, snowy adventures in the Nuuksio Nationalpark - the list is long and full of precious memories. But Tiina is not the only one I took to my heart. I met so many amazing people who changed my life. Two days before I left Finland we had a farewell picnic together where we sat at the cliffs and talked and shared snacks. While I was sitting in the wind, the sun shining on my back, I was looking from one to another, and my heart was crying a little while I was smiling and so incredibly happy to be able to know those people. I hope they know how much I love them and that they made my stay unforgettable. The tenor of this point is that you are never alone, there are so many people out there that share your passions and mindsets, sometimes we just have to search for a little longer!

  • 3 | FINNS ARE NOT THAT SHY - According to the previous point, I have to correct a prejudice about Finns. Although I have to say that I have been pretty over-enthusiastic because of my overloaded happiness to be in Finland so I started conversations with many people on the streets (although I am not that social usually), the Finns always been really open and kind and not shy at all. I expected the Finnish people to be very secluded, not very talkative and quite since everyone told me so but I experienced quite the contrary. Some reason might be that I integrated quite easily but everyone I've met has been so open-minded and kind, and really talkative. The entire atmosphere in the city has been so different to the one here in Germany. Everything felt... warmer somehow if that makes sense. That's why I took the Finnish people to my heart very easily. Actually, when people asked me if I made any Finnish friends, I realized that I made o n l y Finnish friends, maybe because deep inside me I felt comfortable in that culture and did not want to hang out with international students. I experienced Finland in a whole different way seeing things with the native eyes if you know what I mean. And I am very happy about that.

  • 4 | FINLAND IS UNDERESTIMATED - Additional to my little love letter above, I have to say that Finland always drowns in the shadow of Sweden and Norway. Every time I mentioned that my intention was to go to Sweden for my study abroad Finns told me I should better not mention that in front of them. Of course they were just joking but still, I realized that people always just think about Sweden and Norway when it comes to the Nordic Countries because those two are the most popular. Before I applied for my study abroad I haven't really thought about going to Finland myself, because it is somehow unknown and underestimated. But I think, that is more than wrong, because my time up there was the best in my life, and I did not regret for a single second that I haven't got to Sweden. Yes, my plan is still to move to the north of Sweden but because of totally different reasons. I fell in love with Finland from the first second and now that I left my "second home" I wish that people would appreciate this beautiful country much more because its nature, culture, and people have so much to offer, it shouldn't be a secret! I hope that Finland got a bit more attention perhaps by sharing my adventures with the world.

  • 5 | INDEPENDENCE AND COURAGE - I have always been quite independent because of my travels before but this has been the first time I have been living on my own for a longer period of time. To be honest, I enjoyed it to its fullest. I've always wanted to live on my own, to have my own space and to do things like I want to. But not only having my own apartment, also managing a life on my own let me grow a lot. I've been in a foreign country with people I don't know. A culture I didn't know, a new life I had to find my way into. And it has been easy! It felt so natural to be on my own and to find my way into the new environment. I felt so free and strong and grown up! Every challenge I had to take I mastered with joy and excitement, even when things didn't go how I planned them to. My time in Finland made clear that I can survive on my own and that I can manage things and that has been a damn good feeling!

  • 6 | SELF-CONFIDENCE - Because of my inner growths that I experienced I became braver and grew even more by challenging myself every day. One of my biggest achievements has been my performance at the Open-Mic nights in Siltanen, a lovely little bar in Helsinki. The first time I went there with my guitar and my own songs, I have been so very nervous I stuttered a lot and made many mistakes while playing but the applause afterwards and the appreciation of the people made my endorphins going crazy! I went there a second time and even though the third time I performed there on Halloween went totally wrong, I still felt incredibly proud of myself. The last time I performed at the Open-Mic night I did it for my friends which came to listen. It meant a lot to me and when I am looking back now, I owe it to them that I even went up on the stage, because their support made me feel strong and self-confident! Also in some personal matters, I learned the past couple of months that I have to respect myself enough and fight for my own value, and sometimes have to let go of people who treat me wrong. For myself that is the most important lesson, I've learned during my time in Finland because it saved me from a lot of pain and it surely will in the future although I had to learn it the hard way.

  • 7 | BODY LOVE - Finland is known for its sauna culture and although I haven't been a huge fan of sauna before I went to Helsinki I fell in love with the hot air very quickly. I went to the Helsinki Sauna Day twice where my friend and I visited a tent sauna right at the ocean and the really famous Sompa Sauna in the industrial area of Helsinki. I've spent many hours talking with friends in the small, hot room and remember the sauna with Tiina where we drank cider and cooled down outside under the open sky. Finland made me love my own body, the time in the sauna made me realize that we all have only one body, which carries us around, which makes us survive, which makes us live! Our body makes us able to go on adventures, to breathe in the fresh air and every heartbeat should be appreciated. I learned to love my body how it is. Since I do not judge other people's body, I lost the fear of others judging mine - and seriously, when you are sweating with other people in a small dark room with 90 degrees you have other things to think about than whether you are naked or not! Hihi

  • 8 | EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT - In November, after living in Finland for three months, I realized that I didn't wanna leave. One morning I woke up and sat on my bed and the thought of leaving my friends and my place behind broke my heart so I wrote an email to the student service to ask how to extend my stay. A few mornings later, I woke up to their reply that I missed the deadline for extension and they are sorry that they can't do anything about it. I guess I don't have to explain the panic I have been in. I immediately started crying and panicking before I've put on clothes and went out of the door without breakfast, rushing to the office of the student service, waiting in line before it was my turn. I talked to the woman who tried to help me, tried to stay calm and after some issues and paperwork, she extended my stay in the end. I guess I don't have to explain THAT FEELING of relief when I've held the papers in my hand that confirmed another half a year in Helsinki. As I sat on my bed again that evening I realized that I didn't need to worry so much after all, that I always worry too much. But that's not necessary because everything works out in the end, I just have to trust. Everything that happened to me the past year, and I don't only mean all the good grades I've got although I wrote my assignments only on the last day before deadline, I mean all the personal matters, all the rocks that rolled into my way, proved that everything worked out in the end every single time. So now, I am so much more unstressed about life and problems it brings. I now try not to worry too much about everything because I trust that I will figure it out - like I always do.

  • 9 | WINTER CAN BE DARK - You might have read my post about Winter Depression I wrote at the beginning of Spring a few months ago, where I talked about my experiences with the Finnish Winter. Enjoying lots of fairy snow and enchanting moments in the winter wonderland of Nuuksio, Winter brought also lots of darkness, which had been really soothing while knitting and making hot chocolate after a long winter walk, but after a few months also has been affected my mood as well. Everyone who tells me that the northern Winters are long and dark and one easily gets depressive, I can agree with now. Yes, the northern Winters shouldn't be taken so easily, but I have to say that I still like the darkness. Many people do not understand when I tell them that I feel so much more energized in dawn and at night and that I liked the darkness. The only thing I also did complain about has been the grey, rainy days at the end of this Winter because those also made me feel depressive in the end. A winter with short, sunny days and long dark nights is something very romantic and calming for me, but as much as I enjoyed it, I also have to admit that my body (although it has been the first long dark winter for my me) missed the sunlight, which just became clear when Spring arrived and the sun came back. The mood lightens up and you realized that you might have been a little winter depressed even without recognizing. But all in all, after every long Winter comes a beautiful blooming Spring and one even appreciates its colors much more after the long white period.

  • 10 | THE NORTH IS WHERE I BELONG - The last point is probably the most meaningful one. My time in Finland made me realize that I belong to the North. Wandering under the Finnish sky, watching the Nordic landscapes passing by on my train ride through the Finnish countryside and admiring the northern lights in the cold winter wind in Ilomantsi at new years eve made me realize, that this is my home, this is where I wanna spend the rest of my life. I can't put into words how much my wish for a cottage in the woods in the North grew after my time up there, but everyone who followed my journey here the past few months might have noticed how determined I am about it and how much I work for it now to realize my dream. Not only the Finnish nature or Helsinki, but the Finnish people showed me that I finally have to leave my hometown to go where my heart was always leading me to!

Recapturing all these moments now one more time, I have so much love for every single soul I call my friend and every single moment I was allowed to spend with them, to spend in the Finnish nature, every tree I saw and every new moon I saw rising above from my window back in my apartment. I am so proud of how much I grew and how strong I became and I am so thankful for these experiences. They prepared me for everything that comes now, they made me ready to chase my dream! 

Have you ever been to a place for a longer time which taught you life lessons? Tell me about it!

The love of writing by hand

For many years I maintained several penpal-ships all over the world. A few summers ago I started to exchange letters with lovely souls from all kind of places. I wrote with Filippa from Sweden about the Swedish summer, philosophized with Stephanie from England about the human existence and exchanged poems and thoughts with Oona from Finland. Expecting a letter in my mail is one of the most exciting things in everyday life. It brings so much joy and excitement to wait for some new stories, thoughts and little treasures hidden between handwritten paper. 

I had the honour to work with Lamy and Journeybook this month to talk about the love of writing by hand. I can still remember my birthday many years ago when my grandma gifted me my first fountain pen. It was by Lamy and made out of wood with some red decorations. I have been quite young back then and only started to explore the world of calligraphy and handwriting.  The joy of writing by hand, watching the ink setting on the white paper, creating blue lines on the white surface, never changed throughout the years. In the modern society where most of the conversations happen on our phones or computers, sitting down with patience and dedication, writing down a message for someone by hand became a rarity. 

Lamy stands for good quality writing devices and their variety of pens provides a beautiful and high-quality utensil for everyone, like this Lamy Accent with smooth Bruyere. In their collaboration with JourneyBook they combine two major pleasures - writing and travelling. JourneyBook offers several journey books for different kind of destinations, including Scandinavia, Island, Canada and many more. It provides you many pages to collect memories, thoughts, space to plan and organize, and plenty of side notes to get to know your travel destination a little better. Which is your next destination?

Throughout my stay in Finland I exchanged many letters with dear souls, I sat down at night to write down my songs in my little notebook and I left notes and little, hidden letters to my beloved ones, which they found after I left. Writing something by hand leaves a piece of your soul with it - it becomes much more personal when someone writes you a message by hand because it contains their mark. I can delete a text message or an email, but I keep handwritten notes or letters because it feels like someone sat down with you and told you a secret. The ink sank into the paper and anchored with the filament of the words. What a wonderful thing would it be to find some old, faded handwritten letters of deceased souls in the future when all the text messages already got lost in the neverending space of the virtual world? Am I the only one who feels the spirit and soul through that piece of paper which contains so much history?

Do you still write letters or is this a slowly dying tradition - and do you have a favourite writing utensil?