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!