This week I am heading back to home after a pretty amazing 3 months in Turku. People have started to ask me if I enjoyed myself or what was my favourite part of my ERASMUS exchange. Without a doubt I enjoyed myself, but to try to pin down just one event or experience as my “favourite” just wouldn’t give a fair representation of my time in Finland. What I can say is that my time in the Retrodorm, the 5 floor former nursing home at the top of a hill, has helped to make my 3 months in Turku truly unforgettable.
On first glance upon noticing the dampened pages on the front of the building reading ‘The Retrodorm’, the 6/7cm foam mattresses that greet you when you first open your room and the shared shower areas off the communal kitchen; you would be forgiven for immediately turning around and looking for alternative accommodation. Despite this however I can happily say that choosing to stay at The Retrodorm was one of the best choices I ever made.
The famous travel writer Tim Cahill once commented that ‘A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles’. For me, the significant part isn’t that I have lived in a country over 3,000km from home for 12 weeks – what is more important is that I have made some great friends from all over the world; from Belgium and the Netherlands to Germany and as far away as Australia (to name a few!). I know that I won’t be short of a place to stay no matter where I end up in the future and I think that they know that the same stands for them when they travel to Ireland.
Looking back at the time I spent in The Retrodorm doesn’t make leaving any easier because we all know that the chances of us living in such place again in the future – with that same sense of community and camaraderie – are quite low.
Text and photo: Niall Burke