With my first week abroad officially under my belt, I have so many amazing things to share.
First things first, all the students here use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. I was lucky enough to find a cute, second-hand bicycle from a Pori local for just 35 euro. It took my body some getting used to (I haven’t rode a bike since middle school) but now it is so much more convenient than walking and takes about half the time. On my first bicycling adventure, I was heading to my first class. The class was in the evening, so here the sun had already set and it was as dark as you could imagine. I was cycling alone, thinking I could use the map on my phone for guidance. That was a decent idea except that I didn’t factor in the below freezing temperatures. My phone froze and turned off, so what should have been a 10 minute bike ride turned into about a two hour bike ride and I missed half of my Introduction to Finland course. All is well though, I made a few friends out of the deal and of course they took advantage of making the American the butt of the joke.
After that endeavor, a Dutch exchange student offered to help me get to the other campus the following day for class. Now I’d say I’m pretty accustomed to the route, no phone necessary! It’s safe to say now that I’m comfortable with the trip to class that I am loving it! My classes are all wonderful and I love them (maybe more than American school). This week a class of mine is going to a refugee camp to interview war refugees. This is an opportunity of a lifetime and I never could have anticipated anything like this! The workload is also much less here. Lots to do, but much less stress.
I also got the opportunity to visit the Baltic sea as my first little adventure here. It is absolutely beautiful and a nice little getaway here in Pori. I am in complete awe at the beauty here. Pori is kind of a hidden beauty and I’m very blessed to have this wonderful city as my home for the next few months. It makes me so excited to explore the rest of the country and the world. So far I am planning a trip to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day and another to Spain in May before I travel back to the states. I also am just a short boat ride away from St. Petersburg, Russia so I hopefully will get the chance to visit.
Finally, I experienced my first international “gathering” and boy was it something. All of the international students here are so kind and I love all of the new friends I’ve made! We all kind of just hang out in one of our apartments and listen to music and talk about life and home and everything. Also, for anyone ever travelling to Europe, be easy with European alcohol. It has a much higher concentration and puts you on your butt far more quickly.
Anyways, that is all I have for now. Until next time,