Ruissalo visit

Ruissalo is an island in the Archipelago Sea and a district of the city of Turku, Finland. The island is located to the south-west of the city, between Hirvensalo and Pansio in the mainland. One of the largest old oak forests in Finland is situated in the island and many parts of it are included in nature conservation programs. In the most western part of the island there is a spa and a camping area. Turku golf course is situated also here. The Botanical garden of University of Turku is situated in the middle of the island. Near the southern tip of the western part of the island is a small, unofficial nude beach. The island is probably most famous as the venue of the annual rock festival Ruisrock.

I went to Ruissalo on a beautiful day with some friends from Retrodorm. There was snow everywhere, a clear-blue sky and very sunny weather. We went by bus to the city center, where we toHemskerk_Blog3_pic1ok the next bus to Ruissalo.  See the map below what Ruissalo looks like, and what road we had to take, to get there (Start is at point A, destination is point B). Of course we had already a lot of fun in the bus and chatted a lot. Although the bus drivers are driving crazy, we made it there…..eventually. The bus was going so fast (especially when you think of the amount of snow on the road) that we actually flew for a second because we were hitting some speed bumps. Furthermore the bus hit some pavement edges on the way there. It was like a roller coaster trip.


When we arrived in Ruissalo it was really beautiful with lots of forest. The sun was shining through the trees, what made it even more amazing then it already was. From the bus stop we had to walk about 4 minutes to the beach. The beach was all frozen and so was the Archipelago Sea. It was gorgeous to see, because the sun reflected on the snow and ice. I was stunning to see how people actually were jumping in the ice-water (after they’ve been in the sauna), while there was a really thick layer of ice. There was a hole in the ice by the end of the landing-stage, where you could even see the current! There were a lot of people on the ice too, who made pictures, so we could easily ask someone to take a photo of us, which we did of course. We had so much fun that day, made a lot of silly and laughing pictures, and made jumps and handstands. After we walked on the ice for a while, we decided to go back. Thank you for reading!Hemskerk_Blog3_pic3

Text and photos: Eileen van Heemskerk

My Finnish Sauna experience

After I spent a week in Turku (Retrodorm), I had met some great people.
We went with a small group to the finnish sauna, not really far from the dormroom.
We walked to the busstop, were we had to take bus 18.

It took a while for the bus to come, what made the waiting very cold. And we had to go outside in our swimmingsuites! luckily we had a lot of fun during waiting already, cause we sang and danced to stay warm.

When we arrived to the sauna, i found out that you only have to pay for the key of your locker in the lockerroom to put your clothes in. (€2,50). In my country, the Netherlands, we have to pay an amount around the €30 to get to the sauna. But it is a very different experience here. I know sauna as an luxury that you have to save for. Here  in Finland it is normal and it might be weird if you don´t have a sauna. Almost all the Finnish people I met have a sauna at home.

Once we switched our key (we got a key for the boys lockerroom) and changed our clothes we went in to the sauna. It is just only a sauna, (not a whole building with a sauna in it) where a lot of people are. On the upper bench it is the warmest, and on the bottom it is a little bit colder but still very hot! every one was going up right away, while i stayed as low as possible trying to not pass out of the heat. I was not used to it. Once i couldn´t stand the heat anymore, we went out of the sauna. We were ment to jump in the Baltic sea right away, but it takes a courage to jump in such cold water. so i freaked out. I was scared, I felt the coldness of the wooden and iron walkingpaths, and when I was at the water I wanted to feel the coldness too. I should not have done that. I thought ‘ OK, i came this far, now i just have to jump, that’s all’. So I did, …eventually. After the jump I couldn’t feel my feet anymore, so we went straight back into the sauna. Every one was so excited, while we were all thinking the same; why on earth do Finnish people do this for fun and especially more often? I was so proud of myself that I did jump in the Baltic sea, when it was so cold (-7) in my bikini! I was like: If I can do this, I can do everything! Untill I realized, no one is going to believe me when I just tell the story! I always make pictures of EVERYTHING, so it would be weird not to have any pictures of this activity.
I thought; I have to do this again while someone is filming it and we have to make pictures of it, so I would have evidence to show. Like the picture attached to this extraordinairy story. So I stayed a little longer in the sauna with two other people, while the rest was going to grab a camera to make pictures and videos for us. That was really sweet, allthough I think they could stand the cold weather a lot better than I do. So after finally being warmed up again in the sauna, we went for a second walk towards the sea. This time I borrowed flipflops (6 sizes too big, but I wanted to keep my feet :P) so I could feel my feet.

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So a lifesaving tip if you are going to do this too: take your flipflops with you!
We counted till 3 and then jumped at the same time in the freezing water. While I was trying to get out of the water as fast as possible, a friend of ours thought lets just make a swim to the beach. He was crazy!

Anyway, I’m glad I have this amazing experience ( and evidence, a little ashamed of the screaming when i’m in touch with the water). I wouldn’t want to miss this crazy habit from my exchange trip. Although I don’t think i’m going to do this more often, I would recommend you to do it just once in your life. So it might as wel be in Turku, Finland!

Mayby… I will go back to do this again, because now there is snow everywhere. Next time I know for sure I will make pictures of the first jump, cause there definitively won’t be a second jump.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Text and photos: Eileen van Heemskerk

My experience with the student life and living in Retrodorm, Turku

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 aHemskerk_Blog1_pic1 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).

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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).


Hemskerk_Blog1_pic5It 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