So, it was about this time two years ago I got an email accepting me to my course at the University of Helsinki! I remember shaking with shock, excitement and disbelief! There were excited phone calls made and I remember checking out the campus on google street view with a friend.
Shortly after, there came an interesting offer of joining the summer school, there was a Finnish course specifically for new master’s students. I decided it was a good time to find my feet, hopefully make a few friends and learn some language skills, even better was that the credits counted towards my final degree so that was a head start. As a side note, you don’t need Finnish to survive here, English is widely used but it’s nice to have a little understanding and you’ll look like a genius going home and speaking Finnish, even if you only order a coffee.
In short, I had an amazing time! I made lots of friends who are here doing their degree but also I keep in touch with other people I met during the summer school parties and events. Summer school appeals to so many people and has such a wide variety of courses that the social events are not to be missed. The people involved are the most eclectic and interesting bunch to get to know. The first day I attended the grand opening, we were warmly welcomed with fun entertainment, a group photo and a social gathering afterwards. We were given name badges with our course on and it was a good talking point, especially finding someone on the same course.
The actual Finnish class was great fun. The teacher was amazing, so patient and very skilled; I was able to learn a lot. We also had 2 students helping us too. I’ve seen both the teacher and the student aids around university since the course and they always stop to chat – at least we attempt to try in Finnish too.
Summer school itself provided a fun packed and interesting programme. There was so much to do and it really provided a good introduction to Finland and Finnish life. There was chance to try some outside games, eat ice-cream, visit an island and try sauna. You can’t visit Finland without taking a sauna!
We were given bags packed full of information and there was a competition to take a photo of your bag. It was a great opportunity to explore Helsinki and thirsty work for some of us…..
We had a huge scavenger hunt one evening; this is some of us looking a little tired on the steps of the Cathedral. We must have walked for miles but had some good giggles and made some interesting discoveries along the way. We were never short of something to do or someone to talk too.
Unfortunately, it was all over too soon and we had to say goodbye to many of our new friends. Though of course, it had to be done in style with a party. At the start of summer school we were given a puzzle piece (a map of Finland) and at the party it was time to join the puzzle together. My puzzle piece was Korvatunturi, that’s the home of Santa Claus. I’ve been very lucky for many of my new friends it wasn’t at all goodbye, it was very simply – until next time.
Text and photos: International Student Ambassador Sara Haapanen