Musicality in Finland

In meantime I’m already in Turku for two months and I really don’t have the feeling that I will be here for only 2,5 months left. But like they say “time is flying away when you’re having fun”.

Probably you are wondering why this matches to my title? I will explain it.

The weeks before I would leave my country and took the plane to Finland, I have been playing the piano and flute (as a compensation) because I was convinced that I couldn’t play this for 4 months. But nobody told me that in Finland you can find so many pianos – the one is more in public than the other. In these two months I probably have been playing the piano more than I sometimes could do in Belgium.

Even at the campus at Ruiskatu (TUAS) as at my two placements I could play heartily. In meantime I already have one set day when I go to school and play/practice the piano (and sometimes it’s more than one time a week). Now and then I get some company, but – luckily – it’s not that much (I’m still nervous when someone else is listening to my play, except me).

Like I already said I also “found” pianos at my two placements (they weren’t that good in “seek and hiding”). At this moment I have received a lot of opportunities to play the piano and honestly this has saved me a lot of times. Why? Because I really cannot speak the same languages as the Finnish (clients) and this is my way to Hermans_blog_pic3communicate with them (they are elderly, but also adults and children with mental developmental disorders). The clients and me as well are having fun in it, enjoy the play and it gives rest.

Even I think is not that important anymore that sometimes I play faults at the piano. I think is more important that the clients are enjoying it and having a good time!

So this is another Finnish experience I – unfortunately – will never have again in Belgium. Hopefully I can introduce the pianos somewhere so people will enjoy more the small things.


Text and photo – Elke Hermans

My first experience with ice hole swimming

Ice swimming, already done this? A few weeks ago I only could say “I don’t unfortunately”. But on a Sunday – about several weeks ago – we got the opportunity to experience. A bus filled by exchange students drove to Ruissalo where we found a traditional Finnish wooden house. The moment we walked in you could smell the fresh wood being burned in the stove, along with the typical “loggers house smell”. A lot of memories about a small vacation house we were in with the whole family came up in my mind. A little bit a nostalgic feeling.

Arriving at the house, we only needed to pay and write our name so afterwards we could get our personalized diploma. Trusting people is a very natural thing in Finland, because if we would we could go immediately into the ice hole without paying.

Afterwards we went to get changed into a common dressing room (men and women separately of course). The Scandinavian behavior was visible (i.e. completely undress without any embarrassment, even there were strangers). Several years ago I had a little “trauma” visiting a public sauna in Denmark, but we grow up…

Anyway, I still must tell you about the ice hole-adventure. Subsequently we walked towards the ice hole (on a heated floor, nice!). First of all we took a “dive” into the water, although it wasn’t a real dive but rather a dip like you sometimes do with a cookie in your hot chocolate. Damn, I didn’t think it was going to be that cold, really freezing actually. I’ve never felt such cold water. Diving and getting out, it didn’t take long and I tried to move to the sauna, but without the fast part. Once I was there, I needed to warm up for several minutes before I could enjoy the heat of the sauna. Then I went back to the ice and again to the sauna. Repeating this about five times: sauna – water – sauna – water – … I even swum to the buoy and back, but that was really a crazy idea. Afterwards I didn’t had any feeling in my fingers and feet and my whole body was aching. So I stayed outside for a few minutes before I got back to the sauna. Standing outside in bikini after a dive is feeling warmer than just walking outside with your clothes on.Hermanss_Blog_pic2

After an experience I have never had before, I am the proud owner of another diploma. I only needed to warm up myself very well because the cold was staying in my body long time afterwards. But this doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a nice experience, it really was a unique experience I’ll never forget!


Text and photos: Elke Hermans

As a Belgian exchange student in Päivänpaiste

Last year, another Belgian student lived in Päivänpaiste as well and she told us a lot of great things about. So we were reaching out to take off and being here. Before our arrival in Turku we already “met” a few people on Facebook. It was all right and I was no longer nervous to start my Erasmus’ adventure. As we arrived the 3th of February in Päivänpaiste, we met our Turku Facebook friends. What took one day a start on this social medium by a simple talk became in a lot of new friendships and we are already planning to see each other once we all be back in our country.

Our first week in Turku, my friend and me represented Belgium. But after the first week we met two other Belgian students who were living in Päivänpaiste as well. In the meantime we’re almost getting the overhand. At least there is a few people who are already talking about “the” Belgians. So very nice being here and having a part in the Päivänpaiste-crew.


We also met other Belgian students who are living in the Student Village and Retrodorm. It’s feeling very good not being alone as a Belgian in here. We are looking forward to have one day a Belgian dinner/night/meeting… That would be nice! It’s such a good feeling to be connected one another, in our case it’s our nationality giving this connection and I like it.

Last Saturday we’ve had a Belgian Dessert Party in Päivänpaiste. We organized this event because we wanted to show our Erasmus friends something of the customs about deserts from Belgium. Belgian chocolate was one of the things we wanted to present and so we made several Belgian desserts with real Belgian chocolate. It was a real success!

Living as a Belgian exchange student in Päivänpaiste is so nice! Coming in here was until now one of the best thing I’ve ever done, abroad or not abroad!


Text and photo: Elke Hermans