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Unexpected Adjustments to Living in Finland

March 1, 2017

When I first graduated from high school, college life was only few miles away from me. They said that the road was full of traps. But all I could see from the window of my car was a sign that indicated:

  • College life — 7 miles
  • Freedom — 15 miles
  • Stress — 23 miles
  • Success — 23,396 miles
  • Next rest area — 3 years

It took me three years to finally apply for my exchange semester and explore a whole new world. It took me three years to realize that I will never live my life to the fullest if I do not go out of my comfort zone. When your comfort zone is Morocco, blending in Finland is no easy task.

1. Introvert but fluent

Finns do not always speak out, but when they do, they usually have perfect English. Since I arrived in Turku, I have never struggled when asking about anything. Their vocabulary is rich and the pronunciation irreproachable. I heard Scandinavians speak exceptional English, and it is true.

2. Dark but enlightened

One month ago, before leaving my home country, I cried at the airport. I didn’t cry because I knew I was going to miss my parents and my friends, but because it was sunny and warm in Rabat, and it struck me: those were the last sunbeams my skin would feel in months. In Finland, it is dark during winter but with the massive amount of lights around the city, it feels like Christmas every day. The silver lining is night life starts at 2 p.m. On a more serious note, even if you feel drowsy most of the time, what keeps you awake is the light inside of people’s hearts. Finns are extremely kind and humble. They could talk to you for hours and hours about your background and your culture. They make you feel welcome without overdoing it.

3. Cold but invigorating

Forget about the aesthetically appealing #ootd and start packing your #ootc (yes, I just came up with a hashtag for outfit of the cold) if you want to study in Finland. Speaking of packing, do not forget a sauna towel. Finns might seem distant and shy, but when it comes to sauna, private space is no longer sacred. Sauna and ice swimming is definitely one way to enjoy winter in Finland. The steps to a true sauna experience go as follows: First — a sauna for 10 to 15 minutes. Second — a cold shower. Third — a second sauna of the same duration. Finally — jump in the 2 degree lake. Bravery is highly recommended and thrills are guaranteed.

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