Traveling through Finland

Finland is a huge country with lots of things to see. I’ve been for three months in Finland, but for truly seeing everything you need years of time. There is so much to see and to experience when you are there.

For three months I lived in the city Turku, one of the biggest cities of Finland. During my stay I’ve visited a lot of places and all were worth to go to. All these places I visited are quite close to Turku, you don’t really have to go far to see something nice. If you just stay in Turku itself, three months already isn’t enough to see everything of the city.

pienennetty Blog 2 - Photo 1 - Fabian Hoek

Picture: Fabian Hoek

One of the most beautiful places you can find near Turku is the Island Ruissalo. This is officially part of Turku and you are there quite fast by taking the bus. From the center. If you are going to visit Ruissalo you need to do this twice. Once when there is lots of snow and ice on the water and also when the sun is shining and it’s warm enough.

pienennetty Blog 2 - Photo 2 - Fabian Hoek

Picture: Fabian Hoek

Both of these visits will have their own atmosphere and the nature will show itself differently. I visited the island twice and liked it the most when I visited there the second time when it was a little bit warmer. At that moment there was a possibility to BBQ there and seeing the sun going down which is quite romantic if someone is with you! What you like the most depends of course completely on your own personality.

The other place which I really liked a lot was Naantali. This is a city north of Turku and is just next to the sea. I didn’t go to the center of the city, but to the seaside. Here you can find the old town and the port of Naantali which I can recommend everyone to go to. There is lots to see there only by walking around and also parts you can visit.

In the wintertime there is one week when Moomin world is open. This is on a small island of Naantali which you can visit. Moomins are the central characters in a series of books and a comic strips which origin in Finland.

Next to these two places there are lots more to visit like Helsinki, Rauma, Salo, Tampere, Rovaniemi, Levi and lots more. I didn’t visit every place I would like to see yet, but I’m certain that I will go back to see the rest.

Travelling to the North with ESN-IAC

When you are an exchange student in Finland, one of the places you must go to is Lapland. This is one of the most beautiful parts of Finland and every year, trips are being organized by ESN-IAC for the exchange students. This is a student association which is only for exchange students. I went this year during my study in Finland with ESN-IAC and 51 other exchange students by bus to Levi. It is quite a long trip to get there by bus, but it’s really worth it!

pienennetty Blog 1 - Photo 2 - Fabian Hoek

Picture: Fabian Hoek

For this year’s Lapland trip everyone had to gather in the evening at the cathedral of Turku. It was a special day for the women, because we would leave exactly on national women’s day. That’s why all the women could step into the bus first and had a rose, before all the men would enter and take their seats.

We drove all night through half of Finland with a few pit stops (and half a broken back because of the long sitting in the seats) before we finally arrived in Lapland. In the morning when the sun came up, we could see a beautiful view of the snowy landscape through the windows of the bus.

We didn’t go directly to our destination. First we stopped in the morning at Rovaniemi to visit “Joulupukin Pajakylä”. This is the Santa Clause village which is just above the polar circle where you can meet the real Santa Clause in his home! FOR REAL! After the visit to the Santa Clause village and some lunch we went on with our trip towards Levi.

pienennetty Blog 1 - Photo 1 - Fabian Hoek

Picture: Fabian Hoek

Levi is a small ski resort village in the middle of Lapland where there is a possibility to do lots of things. ESN-IAC organized all kinds of events for us during our stay for a week in this town. Here I went snowboarding for the first time, went for a snowshoe walk up to the top of one of the hills next to town (and eventually ended up on a ski slope…), went to a sauna with ice swimming, did a husky ride and even went to a reindeer reserve by snow mobile which I could drive myself! And of course I also went to lots of parties which were organized by ESN!