In Finland time (8 hours ahead of most of you), I have officially been in Jyvaskyla for about 24 hours!
Yesterday was eventful and so was today. I will try and catch you up.
Most of my flights went well, with only two minor delays. One of the delays was my connection from London to Helsinki, Finland and that is the one that caused me some worry. My flight was supposed to depart at 10:20 am and arrive in Helsinki at 3:15 pm. My flight didn’t leave until 11:30 which put me back an hour arriving in Helsinki and gave me only 45 minutes at the very most to unboard the plane, go through passport check, make my way to baggage claim (which was a LONG walk), wait for my luggage, go through customs, and find where the buses departed to catch my bus at 5 pm that would take me to Jyvaskyla. My plane landed around 4:15. I can’t tell you how I made it on that bus, but I did.
Once I got on the bus, I had a moment to soak in my environment. I was no longer in an airport with a wide variety of nationalities and languages. And I was no longer just waiting for my connecting flight. I had reached my destination and was now alone in a sea of Fins, on public transportation driving through a country I had never been to. And even though the sun had set, I could still see the beauty of the country. There was snow, EVERYWHERE and I could tell that the trees were all tall, skinny Aspen trees except for a few evergreens by the light from the street lamps. I couldn’t help but notice the street signs as well, and I also couldn’t manage to read any of them either. They are all in, Finnish, oddly?! This was truly when reality struck me. Sitting in a bus seat looking out a window into the night could have happened anywhere. But looking at a store sign that reads “Stockmannin Helsingin keskustan tavaratalo” out that same window at least tells me I’m not in the U.S. anymore. All bus announcements were also in Finnish and I was completely clueless as to what was being said, but I knew the city I needed to make a transfer in and I knew what time I was scheduled to arrive in Jyvaskyla, so that wasn’t too difficult. My eyes kept closing and eventually I stopped fighting it. When I arrived in Jyvaskyla, my student tutor (which is a student at the university who is my walking, talking savior my first week here) picked me up from the travel station and we began walking to my apartment. I arrived but didn’t have access to wifi, I would have to contact my family the next day that I had arrived. I slipped into my pajamas and passed out.
The next morning, me and my three roommates met with a group across from our apartment and walked to the orientation session at Agora building on the Mattilanniemi campus. The walk was anywhere from 20-40 minutes and I didn’t mind because the past 24 hours had been nothing but sitting on a plane. The orientation covered basic information, I have another session tomorrow and on Friday, and then we ate lunch with our Student tutors and the other students in that group. My first meal included a salad and fish curry along with a boiled potato and some bread. It was very good! Campus tours followed and then we went to the city center to walk around.
Me and a few students living in Kortepohja decided to make the 1.5 mile treck back to our housing around 5 pm or so. When we made it to the student village, they headed for the M and N buildings where they lived and I headed towards building R. Well, I thought I was heading towards building R. I got so lost and so turned around. I probably asked 10 people where I could find building R until I finally found it. The Kortepohja student village is much larger than I thought and there are no distinguishable landmarks. Just trees, and trees, and trees, and snow. All of the apartment buildings are white and at some point I just couldn’t remember where I had been. I couldn’t use internet because I am using wifi until I can buy a sim card, so it was up to me and the many strangers I passed to find my way home. I walked around for about 45 minutes trying to find my building, but then I did. 🙂
Once I got home, I realized I needed food. So me and two of my roommates set out to the grocery store, yet another walk but only about 10-15 minutes. The grocery store was small, but we were in there for over an hour just trying to figure out what everything was. Would you believe that grocery stores in Finland have products in Finnish? Crazy. As a bargain shopper, I bought quite a bit of food for only 27,40 euros. Then I realized I had to carry it home. Hah! You should have seen me and the other girls lugging our groceries over our shoulder along the icy sidewalks. But we made it back and ate our respective dinners.
Realizations from my stay in Jyvaskyla so far:
- Walking is unavoidable. If I hadn’t lost my fitbit in the Dallas airport, I would tell you how many miles I have walked today. Well over 5.
- The university campus is a good distance away.
- Every Fin I have stopped at the airport/bus station/along the street/in the supermarket has been extremely kind and extremely helpful.
- I don’t know very much Finnish.
- I will learn very quickly.
It is 11:30 in the evening here in Jyvaskyla and I am tired! Tomorrow brings another orientation session and a few meetings about courses and the beginning of classes next week. I am heading to bed, goodnight!