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Diaconia University of Applied Sciences Helsinki, Finland

Blog entry 3 - Moi moi from the north

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 | Diakonie FH Helsinki

This time I’ve been thinking long and hard, from where should I start… so I decided for a Finish hello in the first place! In the meantime, it is October, Finish Lokakuu – the Finish have a lot of u and y and ä stringed together – and I had my first visit from home. Not so easy to think of a program, after all you want to offer something!

So, we visited Soumenlinna, the Finn’s vacation and recovery island (quasi the Swedish Gotland) and first let us puff decently, it was quite windy. I had been there a few times in August – the island really earns it’s name to be mentioned. The nice thing is, that the normal travel-ticket for bus and train is also valid for the ferry to the island!

Soumenlinna – Soumi as Finish name for Finnland – is World Cultural Heritage and was important in war in earlier marine times. Even today a beacon and cannons at the end of the isle remember the tradition of the war times. The view from the coast over the sea is invaluable! Isn’t that awesome?

Helsinki really showed its best side and the sun was shining properly once again… isn’t it unbelievable how the weather contributes crucially to whether you like a city or not. Besides the White Church, we also went to the Orthodox Uspenski-cathedral, to the port with its famous market-square, to the market hall and in the park – just all that, you should have seen. The market-square is directly at the port, where many little tents with Finish food, souvenirs or knitted caps are there. There is also the huge big wheel, which got a new sauna park attached to it in summer. The Finish certainly love their saunas, almost every house has one, and even in our student dorm we have one. And as if that wouldn’t have been crazy enough, there are even two cabins in the big wheel, which got converted to a sauna! Regarding having a sauna, the Finish are definitely not squeamish and can bear quite alot. Once when I was in sauna in the Mäkelenrinne- swimming pool (every swimming pool has free saunas!!!), a grandma heated up so much, that I had to admit defeat.

In university, some interesting projects were due, among others; a visit in a Finish facility, that offers family therapies, and a practical day, where we could train our “work skills”. So, uni is in process!

But the highlight for me in the first half of October was without a doubt my journey to St. Petersburg. Since I saw the trick film “Anastasia” as a kid I had known that I’d have to see the city some time. And here it was, my chance! So we drove to St. Petersburg, the windows from Europe like Peter the Great said and like I’d want to say now, one of the most ostentatious, impressing and colorful cities I’ve seen so far. In the evening we went with the ship towards Russia, where we also spent the first night. That was an experience!! There’s not much space in such a ship cabin, not to mention no window, but we used it anyhow just to sleep… although sleeping wasn’t that easy for some, because it was a bit stormy in the night and the whole ship was wiggling. My name colleague from Austria, who we named tenderly (!) Ösi-Eva, won’t do a ship tour again so fast I think.

Anyhow such a ship has quite much to offer. There was karaoke, casinos and multiple “Lounges”, where music and dance shows took part, which were, in my opinion, more focused on the male audience though, which was proved quickly by the screaming of the male spectators watching lightly clad ladies – but of course everything within the scope, after all there were also little kids in the audience! We arrived in St. Petersburg the next morning and first had to stand in line for 2!! hours at the passport control. As we were only there for 72 hours on Russian land, we had a visa-free trip and were allowed to enter the country (Halleluja!). My first stamp!

This city enchants! It enchants me with its diversity, beautifulness and its pomp. The Njewa, in which the bad wizard Rasputin was supposedly thrown and drowned, flows through St. Petersburg. Around the river there are numerous splendid buildings like the Hermitage-museum and the tremendous palaces of Peter the Great. Peter I. presented a palace to each of his children (10<) for their wedding and didn’t dread costs and troubles. St. Petersburg is his heritage!!

Outstanding was the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood with its oriental touch. I couldn’t stop making photos of it at all, just stunning! Shortly you feel like in Aladin in “1000 and one night”! It seems there’s a similar one in Moscow, the so called Basilius-cathedral. I would’ve liked to see also Russian’s centerpiece, but you can’t take part in everything and the university also took its toll and didn’t want to be neglected.

Anyhow St. Petersburg has a very special charm, what you can’t really get from the locals! In St. Petersburg there’s another wind blowing and with English you won’t get so far, then even more with German. Perhaps it’s also the tourism, which by this time annoys many inhabitants? Russia is comparatively really cheap for us Europeans at the moment, the ruble is quite weak. You can get a typical Russian pie for converted 30 cents or a cheeseburger at McDonalds for 60 cents. The pies were excellent! And also all Matroschka-admirers, like I am, won’t go short here, there are really lovely keychains! And the best is known to come at the end… on our last evening we visited the ballet “Swan Lake” in the Hermitage-museum. An absolute pinnacle for me. I would’ve never dreamed that I could experience that in St. Petersburg, it was charming and magnificent!!

Yes and presto everything was already over again…The invective “exam preparation” is there in the focus for the next days as we had our last exam soon. I can’t confirm that the exams in Erasmus are so easy peasy. You don’t get your grades down here. However everything could be reconciled well so far and I’m excited what the second half of October will bring.

Moika from Helsinki and at the end something for the heart and eye…

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