Blog entry 2 – Here we go!
This night, I set two alarms because tonight it’s on! I had to get up at 3 in the middle of the night in order to get on the plane in Stuttgart at 6am. I was excited and happy when I got in my parents’ car but then I received an email: “Your flight is cancelled”. “Well, that’s a great start”, I thought to myself…but as it was 3:30 in the middle of the night and I could not get hold of anybody on the Scandinavian Airlines hotlines I had no alternative but to drive to the airport. At the airport I could spontaneously book another flight and as the departure was very soon I had to say goodbye to my parents within a few minutes – thank God because somehow this made saying goodbye a lot easier. Then I ran to the security check with my two suitcases and my backpack.
When I landed in Helsinki, I missed my train to Lappeenranta and had to book a new ticket on the spot. Well, this shouldn’t be much of a problem…but wait a second! I’m in Finland now and already had my first unpleasant confrontation with the Finnish language (in my view this could also be the language of the aliens because you really DON’T understand ANYTHING). After I spent ages pushing the buttons of the ticket machine, I finally got the right ticket. Then I was sitting in the train to Lappeenranta and almost couldn’t believe I made it – my semester abroad really didn’t start very smooth.
But when I arrived at the train station in Lappeenranta everything became better. My mentor picked me up and brought me to the student residence, where he gave me the key to my room and the lease contract. The mentor was organized by the university and I was really pleased about it because it made a lot of things easier. When I was waiting for my mentor at the train station, two girls came to me and told me, that they also came from Würzburg and thought that I might have the same destination. I actually thought that I was the only exchange student from the FHWS and thus I was excitingly happy when I met these girls and directly found two companions.
Of course I was very excited to see my room, the flat and my new flat mate but when we arrived, we didn’t even have a mattress or bedding and directly had to leave again to buy all the necessary things. “When is this going to stop today? Can anything please finally work well because I was so looking forward to everything?!” Meanwhile, I really was kind of desperate but I wanted to keep my chin up, because I was here to “experience the best 6 months of my student days”. This is what you hope to get from your semester abroad and what you get to hear from many people who have already experienced it. Tomorrow is going to be a better day, I said to myself when I fell into my bed that evening, dead tired so that I hardly had time to say hello to my new flat mate. And the next day really was a better day because I had enough time to become acquainted with my flat mate as I didn’t have to go to university that day. She is very calm, she comes from Turkey and is studying here for already one year in a master degree program. She seems to be really kind and still it is kind of odd to share a flat with someone you don’t know at all, now that I had already spent one year in my flat in Würzburg and got to know my flat mates very well.
The first day at university started with a welcoming event to which all exchange student were invited. As many exchange students had arrived already a few days earlier like me, we agreed on walking to the event all together. So as we walked the 2 kilometers to the university we started thinking about how everything will be like. I was glad that I didn't have to go to university alone on the first day and that I could share my nervosity with the others. When we arrived we got a plan for all the rooms and a few introductions to the different programs/platforms like moodle, which we need for the university. Then there was a guided tour through the whole campus and in between we had a break and ate at the cafeteria. The food at the university here is really perfect for students, at 2.60€ it is very cheap and there is also water, milk, juices, bread with butter and salad for free. There are 3 refectories on the campus so that you can choose between the constantly varying offers.
I am totally thrilled by the university, it is located directly at the beautiful Lake Saimaa, most of the university has been or is still being reconstructed and the system here is a bit different than in Germany. In most courses you have two professors. The classes are very small (20-40 students) and you often have to work in groups and have to prepare presentations. So we exchange students were integrated directly on day one.
Students can also get a card for the sport courses offered by the university and sign up for language courses which I haven’t done yet because I first want to see how time-consuming university life is here.
In the first two weeks we had to declare which courses we want to attend and still could make changes in our learning agreement. On the first weekend was a semester opening party to which all students were invited. This was the perfect opportunity to meet new people. I am glad that I have already got to know many very kind people, among them many Germans (which I didn’t expect), with which I already spent some evenings having a barbecue at the lake or we spent afternoons exploring the town. All in all, after my initial problems I had awesome days and after all a good start in Finland and I am really happy to be here.