It is hard to believe that in just seven short days I will be packing my bags and head home.
Home is an odd concept though. Over the course of these two weeks, I have learned that home is not simply where someone resides. Rather, it is the place where aching feet find solace, the best of memories take place and the worries of the world seem a little less worrisome. It is not always permanent and it may not even be a physical location at all.
While in Jyväskylä, my tiny apartment has been my home—sketchy comforter, smelly shower, and ugly curtains included. However, traveling to Turku provides a new space and this realization is both saddening and exciting. While I will miss the serenity of the small town, I am ready for the adventures that Turku has to offer.
With that being said, here are my top nine moments from last week!
I admittedly ate a lot of cake last week. As in two slices at different times of the day, followed by ice cream and maybe a pastry. (Don’t judge.) In my book, what Jyväskylä lacks in size, it makes up for in dessert and this shop is definitely where it’s at.
8. The Observation Tower of Harju
Built in 1953, the Harju tower lies in the heart of the city center and overlooks all of Jyväskylä. As many of my companions can attest to, the eleven flights of stairs were killer, but the view was absolutely phenomenal.
7. The Harbor
Finland boasts of over 180,000 lakes, and we had the pleasure of having a couple right outside our backdoor.
I won’t share too much about the city yet, given that it will star in my next blog post. However, I will say that it is beautiful. The streets are lined with cobblestone and various pieces of artwork are riddled throughout the town square. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before, aside from Pinterest and pictures on Facebook.
Turku is strikingly different from Jyväskylä though, in the sense that nature is not quite the main attraction. It is a little rougher around the edges, its streets a little dirtier, and the people a little more rowdy. It has character though, and is spectacular in an entirely new way.
Fun Fact: A great number of Finns graduated from high school last night. The telltale sign is that graduates wear sailor caps.
5. Visiting Cathedrals in Helsinki
Over the course of my life so far, I have not found myself in very many cathedrals. But for those of you who have, I need to ask, how can you pay attention to anything but the architecture when you go? When we visited Helsinki for the day, I was in complete awe. Very rarely do you see places like these in San Diego, but I wish you did.
While Suomenlinna, otherwise known as the sea fortress, was first built in the 1700s to deter Russian expansion, it is now an island that serves primarily as a tourist spot. After arriving by ferry, one can explore the caves, wander around the museums, dine at the cafes, or grab a seat at the brewery. When we arrived, it was about 10 degrees Celsius. In Farenheit, that is 50 degrees. In San Diego terms, that is just too damn cold. Needless to say, we spent quite a bit of our time defrosting in various locations before venturing about. However, when we did, and it was one of my favorite things we did that day.
Sometimes, a picture is not worth a thousand words. Sometimes, in order to really experience something, you must simply be present and witness the spectacle with your own eyes because anything less cheapens the moment. I guess this was one of those moments. If you have never hiked up to a ski slope, looked out, and realized how truly small you are, you should probably go to Finland. You can do that there.
2. Farmer’s Market in Helsinki
If you are wondering why this is my number two, just look at that crepe. Now imagine what it tastes like. See, now you know why it’s my number two.
Upon arriving in Jyväskylä, we were all assigned a tutor to help us get acquainted. I figured it would be some grad student that would show me my room and be on his or her merry way. However, I got paired with Kari.
As I get older, my encounters with people who genuinely care about others without expecting anything in return are few and far between. The person standing next to me in this picture is one of those rare people. Over the past two weeks, he has taken several hours of his time to help us in any way possible. Whether that meant introducing us to new places, pointing us in the right direction, ensuring we took the right train or simply putting up with us. (Putting up with me in particular.) Furthermore, not only was he a wonderful mentor to all his mentees, but he “adopted” several others. In all, my experience at the University of Jyväskylä would not have been the same without him. So Kari, on behalf of pretty much all twenty-one San Diego State Students, kiitos.
Well, that is all the adventure I have room for at the moment. Until next week, moi moi!