I arrived on January the 3th, with my friend Sofie. We already spoke to our tutors via Facebook. So we got to know each other a little before we went to Finland. We arranged that they would pick us up from the airport in Turku, where they were the last persons waiting, because my suitcase hadn’t arrived. I was really upset because I lost my suitcase, but at the same time it was really nice to have same people who could show us around. Katja and Alexandra are our tutors who are very sweet. They picked us up with their car and after we finally got the suitcases (and ourselves) in the car we chatted the whole way home, from Turku airport to Retrodorm. They showed us where the cheapest and biggest supermarket is and told us what we were passing during this short trip. They had arranged everything very well! they already got us our starting package and mobile phone cards for a finnish phone number (just in case) and the keys for our apartment in Retrodorm. When we arrived in Retrodorm they helped out with carrying our stuff and trying to find the wifi-code. They even got us bedsheets, because there weren’t any in the starting package!
We ( Sofie and I) have a double room (shared apartment with two lockable rooms, shared hallway and toilet) and wanted to see the rooms first.. We had arranged a date for a tour of Turku the next day. Alexandra was really prepared, because she knew so much about the city, the buildings and nice places to go for us. We went to see the cathedral, museum and went up a hill just out of the city center where there is a view over the city. It was very nice and we got to meet Katja’s dog, who was coming with us too. Here you see a photo of myself with my friend Sofie and our tutors.
At our first day at the university our tutors where there too, to guide us. They showed us our classrooms and showed the way trough the school. We were assigned to two other tutors at the university in case we wanted to ask things, because tutors had practical training. The information lecture was boring but necessary. Some things were more clear after this class, some things weren’t. We found out that we wouldn’t have any clinical placements or classes during the first days of our stay. This way we could hang out a lot with people we just met, did the first groceries, walked up to the citycenter and went shopping. ( I had to, cause my suitcase was still lost).
The first days in Retrodorm were awesome! We had movie nights, poker nights, and played different games like ‘ who am I’ and cardgames. ( see the picture below).
It was nice to have a small group of people at the end of the night because then you got to know each other. We went to the introduction party in club ‘Börs’ in the first week, wich was great! It was so much fun, a nice place and great music. Unfortunately the next day was our first day at the university. We had to prepare a presentation about our home country (The Netherlands). And we saw others present Finland and Turku, which was nice because we learned a lot from it. Mostly practical things and just fun facts.
Back to Retrodorm, It is a nice place to live, because there are so much nationalities. The people who live there are all exchange students what makes it even more fun. All different studies, different stories and different cultures combined and divided over 5 floors (in the B-Wing). And everybody is trying there best to understand each other, most of the time in english because most people will understand this language. There are a lot of musicians this semester, what makes the second floor (partying floor) swing. There are people who brought guitars and violins, people who can sing beautifully, people who use there startingpackage as drums. Playing pop-songs, requested songs, classical music, or just originals. I like this mixture of culture in music and in behaviour.
If you take a look in the kitchen(s), you’ll notice that everyone have there own habits when it comes to food. Some will eat mostly (dried) rice, some only sandwiches, some drink a whole bottle of wine with snacks in the evening while others are hanging on the couch with a bag of chips and juice. some cook every day and some never cooked before.
The same principle about clothes and snow. I have seen people walking in short pants and just a top while others are walking with boots, jacket, hat and scarf inside. I’ve seen people wear different clothes every day, while others only have been spotted in pajamas.
There are people who were prepared for the snow and there are people who never had seen snow before and asked if it would be cold! It is just great to see those beautifull difference in every culture, nature and habits of every part of the world!
If you ever have a chance to go abroad as an exchange student or just to work abroad, I would say JUST DO IT!
You have nothing to lose because traveling is the only thing in the world that makes you richer, even if it’s just for a couple of months!
Thank you for reading my blog, I hope you enjoyed it.
Text and photos: Eileen van Heemskerk