How did you meet Pekka for the first time?
I met Pekka first via email and facebook since he contacted me to introduce himself as my tutor. It was a very nice gesture. Then, when I arrived to Turku it was -10°C, and coming from a warm city, Lima, I was freezing. Some students I met on the way and I took a bus from Helsinki to Turku. And here is where I met Pekka: he was waiting for me and another student at the bus stop since he was our tutor. He picked us up in his car, and drove us to our residence. He showed me my room, he also gave me my bed sheets, cooking pot, and other basic things each student received at the beginning of the semester, and that Pekka kindly brought me home. I must mention that not all tutors received their exchange students so warmly and caring as Pekka did. Finnish people were said to be distant but Pekka gave me the opposite impression. And in the following months, I just realized that they were the politest people.
Tell us about some unique moments during your exchange in Turku.
I have to start talking about Vappu. Normally, there aren’t too many people walking on the streets in Turku. But during this day, the streets were full of cheerful people talking and laughing. Normally, Finnish people enjoy their time alone but this day the collective spirit surrounded the whole city. I met many Finnish students and I had an amazing time with them. We went to a boat bar and all I can describe now are my feelings since words tend to be forgotten with time. I was excited and I didn’t want this day to finish.
In spring, the Aura River looked fantastic. The riverside was also amazing, full of tulips and light green grass, the restaurants and cafés were full of people and the atmosphere was enchanting. My Finnish friend Sirja taught me to prepare karjalanpiirakka and told me many interesting things about Finnish society.
Also, I remember that time when I saw the northern lights. We climbed to a hill in Turku and saw them there for the first time (I didn’t see them when I went to Lapland). I sincerely had so many unique moments in Turku with many people I truly care about, so many anecdotes and wonderful times. Also living in Finland gave me the opportunity to travel to other European countries during my exchange time, living in Turku gave me a complete different view of what a society is.
What were the strangest things you encountered?
A drunk 80-something-year-old lady asked me to help her open her door at 10 a.m.
Students partying with the overalls
Students being upfront to the teacher about their opinion of a course without the teacher getting mad or resentful
Going on a cruise to Estonia to buy (a lot of) alcohol
I started drinking milk at lunch
Public naked sauna
Tips for incoming students?
Always live the moment
Go to sauna (many times!)
Organize your time, be responsible
Pay the university’s sports fee, it’s really worth it
The most memorable moments were alcohol-free
Walk along the Aura river
Make Finnish friends
Meet people from all over the world!
Travel as much as possible
Go see the northern lights
Go on a cruise! (Stockholm is an amazing destination and ESN cruises are 100% fun)
Buy fresh vegetables and fruit at Kauppatori :)
Take tons of pictures of the places and with your friends, those are moments that will never come back
Go to Turku’s library, it’s amazing
Let your friends know how special they are. Being an exchange student was, for me, the best thing that has ever happened to me since it gave the chance to grow so much as a person and also academically. I’m sure I’ll never forget the amazing time I had living and studying in Finland and visiting other countries. I’m planning to do my Master’s degree in Europe.
Muchas gracias Julia!!!