Finland, Estonia, Sweden · 84 Days · 22 Moments · August 2017

My International Exchange

7 November 2017

This is finally it... The Northern Lights! After hunting them for almost three months and barely having results I finally saw them. No, it wasn’t fully powered Aurora and the photos I took just can’t manage to picture them as they really were. Guess im failing you guys on that, cause I’ll never be able to show you what i really saw. I can, however, explain you what it felt like.... It was a unique experience. The night was mostly clear and a green halo could be pictured a little above the horizon (that I think you can see in the first picture). Above me, I just felt some waves of fading light and a what felt like a really discreet spotlight. And it suddenly happened, like a painter, it seemed the sky was brushed with a green and purple/pink shiny light. It was short, no more than 30 seconds, but that mini spectacle managed to bring a joy that warmed my soul and cleaned my doubts. Thank you, earth.

5 November 2017

Helsinki It is the capital of the country I’m currently living in so I had to visit it and, as everything in this country so far, I wasn’t disappointed. Simple yet nice, Helsinki is the kind of city you could walk for hours and don’t feel time pass. It has this comfortable vibe that makes you feel you already know the city... or is it me who is getting too used to Finland? I could, however, add that the city doesn’t feel quite like a capital. That said, it does not lessen its value. Helsinki is a very pretty city. On the first day we just walked around the city center from a church to another, to the port and back. There is this round church (hidden in a rock) with a historical background that makes it unique (you will have to ask it to me!). On the second day, we went to Suomenlina, an ancient military fortress located in one of Helsinki’s islands, now classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The mood of the weekend: a franco-mexican group of friends 💙

9 October 2017

Stockholm Simple photos are not able to capture the beauty of this city. That is how I felt while selecting pictures for this entry. But let us praise Stockholm instead of criticizing my photographer’s skills. Being a very old city (founded in the thirteenth century), Stockholm’s different architectural styles can be appreciated just by walking endlessly through its modern or ancient alleys, and gazing upon its many colorful houses, buildings, and churches. It is a city composed of many islands connected by bridges. It’s old town, Gamla stan, has been the witness of many historical events, but specially my curiosity and attention. The streets are made of stones; the building have an old look yet full of personality. We went there two days, and I believe it was not enough. Through free tours, tired legs and cheap food, I saw in Stockholm a city full of color, life, personality. Saying it was amazing is lessening it’s true worth. And as always, in the best of companies 💙

24 September 2017

Tallinn For personal reasons I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to Tallinn. In the end I'm glad I did. We went as a small (sarcasm) group of 14 people, quite international: Italy, Germany, France, Slovenia, United States and Mexico. It was the first time in my life I took a ferry that big. The ship was awesome but anyways, it is not the main attraction. Tallinn's old city. This was it. It is beautiful. The kind of city with many churches, stone streets and ancient walls; the kind of city where you can walk endlessly and wander without getting tired. So yes, we mainly walked, visited enormous churches, wandered around old towers, relaxed at parks and gazed at panoramic views. It was such a relief to finally have good weather which made it more enjoyable. The group was so nice. The international touch made it so enjoyable and I'm glad we got along so well cause it made it easier to share a room with seven other persons 😌 Thank you Tallinn, you did good to my heart.

17 September 2017

Lau in Tampere and Día de la Independencia Lau vino a visitarme! 💙 Yes, mi dear friend from my home campus, Laura, came to visit me for three days. And what better weekend than Mexico's Independence Day! So you'll have to ask her but I was really happy to have her here. We visited Tampere's city center, went to a food festival and visited the Pyynikin Tower, which I didn't know so I tried something new. Also I gave her a tour around UTA and ARVO building. Of course, I introduced her to all my Tampere friends and I believe they got along really well ☺️ Regarding the dinner: thanks to all for coming, to those who helped me cook and/or cooked something from their countries. I wanted it to be as much Mexican as international and it was a success. In the end everything was delicious! The tostadas/sopes/tacos, guacamole, tortilla española, tarte tatin. Bref, loved it. Oh! And lots of Mexican music Lau, thank you so much for coming! I already miss you! Now it's my turn to go to Oulu!

13 September 2017

Downtown Orienteering A rally. That's it. But yeah, a big rally around city center. The teams had to have at least one Finnish person and a theme to it. Our team was called Tokyo 2020 and we were dressed with sports wear. Thee were over 60 rally points, all made by different students associations, sports teams, groups, etc. however, we only had to participate in seven previously given rally points because only in those we could get points. We had to do different activities depending on the rally point. Do them well and get more points... or also bribe the judges 😂 At the end of the day there was a party at a club. I have to say, I love how Finland doesn't care to relate clubs and alcohol-related places to its universities, because people don't abuse that relationship. Anyway, best teams were rewarded. We didn't win anything but we had fun 😁 Oh, I fell in the park because I was jumping in the mud... I'm writing this three weeks later and still have the bruise... #sorrymomandd

11 September 2017

Finnish Traditions: Sitsit Rules Songs: All the songs are found in a small purple book. Most of them are in Finnish (some in English). Apparently they are traditional songs with its lyrics modified to alcohol and other hot themes 😏There are also rules during the songs and there are some words you can shout during the song and people should either sing faster or slower, restart the verse or even stop singing, drink, and sing again. Many songs had special functions, one to be able to start eating, others fro drinking, others for drinking water etc. Punishments: but why? Because toastmasters can and they will. All related to movies and very creative but alas, you can't cheer for punished ones but only "buuu" them. And certainly never clap at a sitsit, just bang your hands on the table. Civilized. Eating? Between songs. As fast as you can. Bathroom? Two 15 minute breaks. Ask for a song? Even I asked for one 😂 Phones? Forbidden Talk? Not when toastmasters are... Worth it? Hell yeah!
Finnish Traditions: Sitsit BEST. DINNER. EVER. I think it's is difficult to explain it in few words so I'll explain the concept of it in one post, the rules in another, and the personal stories you'll just have to ask them to me ☺️ It is an event of many rules. One should dress as the theme (which was movies and yes, I was Javi Noble); one should always respect the toastmasters (Venla was one of them!); one should pay attention to when it is allowed to drink, eat, talk, but above all, one should just sing out loud and enjoy it. The point of it is to have a good time, and drink and sing all night long (well, 4 hours which is what it lasts). Most of the songs were in Finnish but I mean, it is so much fun to try to sing them and it feels so rewarding to be acknowledged by the Finnish students saying that you are doing pretty good (although it felt like I was doing it so bad). What else can I say? Just an awesome mood. No pictures allowed so this is the only one I had 😬

9 September 2017

So Särkänniemi (the amusement park in Tampere where I went 3 weeks ago) is closing till June because, well... winter is coming, literally. Anyway, to celebrate its last days there was this small festival where some Finnish artists gave concerts for the people. The entrance to the park was free but not the roller coasters. It was a really nice day... I lied, the day was cold and rainy, but that didn't stopped us from enjoying the park. After a last ride to a roller coaster it was time for the concert. There was this Finnish artist, Anna Puu which I actually like. The Rasmus (yes they are Finnish) also gave a concert but I went... get dinner... at that time... so I missed them, ups... Moving on, there was this nice firework show at the end of the day which made it perfect. Then the bad weather made it perfect for going into a bar for the rest of the night and drink a beer, or two, or more... and play cards. By this time it was just a small group of french friends and this hybrid (me).

3 September 2017

Turku and Rauma. Part 2: Rauma So we stayed at Turku for the night. It was my first Airbnb (booked by me cause in my Croatian journey my best friend booked a couple of them) and I have to say that our hosts were so nice, the apartment beautiful and really well placed. Of to Rauma then. We arrived to the city and yes, it is small, is is quite empty and for reason Finns don't like it that much but we did. We finally had some sun which made it a perfect day to walk around. The city center is mostly composed of wooden houses and other buildings,each hand painted with different colors. They are even recognized by UNESCO. So Rauma is a coastal city and we decided to walk along the river (again) till we reached the sea. What a surprise to find an industrial port and no beach. Anyway, we managed to sunbathe and fool around at a dock so it was worth it. Let me present you the stars of this weekend. From left to right (first pic): Me, Adele, Flavia, Sabela, Pierre and Fanny. 😁
Turku and Rauma. Part 1: Turku So this weekend was trip time to two cities. First one was Turku, one of Finland's big cities. Yes, some of you might heard of it since it is where the knife attacks happened. Nevertheless, when we arrived there, the city's downtown was joyful and full of people. There was even this small market in the main square. So there we are, 3 French, 1 Italian, 1 Spanish and me, walking the streets of Turku, daydreaming along the river. We got to see the city's castle which was a little disappointing because it looked more like a big house. We also went to the indoors market which is apparently a thing in Finland (I have to go to Tampere's and then I'll write you guys a comparison with México's markets) What we found really nice was the night life. As a student city too it was full of young people and we went to a really nice bar which held a small metal concert (my first one!). Still, alcohol is too expensive to drink that much... 😜

2 September 2017

Tampere City I would classify Tampere as a beautiful city. What attracts me more is definitely the nature factor but buildings and streets add a personal touch. Tampere was built in the XVIIIe century and became an important commercial and industrial point, which is clearly reflected in some of the photos here attached. The city center particularly shows some older, yet elegant building but also some factories. Wander a bit more Tampere and you can find normal, more modern buildings, and also some artistic surprises like the big cow made out of car parts. Churches are clearly present in Tampere and if you wander downtown you'll find different styles of them. I'm no architecture expert so I'll just keep quiet for now and let you guys enjoy the pictures :)
Tampere's Nature Yes, Finland is mostly covered by lakes and forests (around 80-90%). No, I'm not making it up, and yes, I'm glad that Tampere is not the exception. Mostly built in between two big lakes and all over the forest, this city got it all for me. It feels so good to just be able to walk and see all the trees and all the water surrounding oneself. And one can feel the change from a 20 million city to a 300 thousand one. It's glory, it's therapeutic, it's peaceful. Just see it for yourselves...
Finnish traditions: Sauna Finland has got 3 million sauna for 5.5 million habitants so yeah, it is a big thing. I'm not going history mode and tell you the origins of it but et hater what I think about it. It is really nice. As I said I had my first sauna during Biopsy's integration party on Monday. I was the only exchange student getting into de sauna so of course I was very disoriented at the beginning but the Finns did welcome me and I realized that that was it. Sauna is for relaxing, socializing, talking, etc. what would you do normally do with friends amor family but just with way more Celsius degrees on the thermometer. For some reason finns like to stay some minutes at the sauna and then just go socializing in the open, cold terrace, and I was no exception. It was actually quite nice, you don't feel the cold for a solid 20 minutes and steam comes out of your body. Boy, I can't wait to go into the frozen lake in December after a nice sauna...

1 September 2017

Thomas, you finished orientation the 25th of August but start courses until 4th September. What were you doing in between? The answer is simple: meeting and going out with awesome people... and partying... a lot. Again, all I'm good health family. But yes, it was the opportunity to get to know a lot of people and just have some fun. During this week I did a bus tour, a movie night, dinners out, small parties and even big parties, and the most important thing is that I was with people I now proudly call friends. And that is why it was worth it, every second of it (except maybe the waiting line of the Kolmios party... that was hell for one hour). So just enjoy these selfies of me and my new friends ☺️
Finnish traditions: Kyykkä and Mölkky These are two outdoors games very Finnish. I won't get into much detail since it would take me forever to explain and I don't think my explanations would be very clear. Kyykkä: it is more popular in winter, the even have a championship between students. This game consists on trowing a heavy wooden baseball-like bat (Karttu) and hit small wood cylinders (Kyykkä). The objective is to throw as many as possible Kyykkä outside a squared area so it gives points. Mölkky: a typical summer game. It consists of throwing a wood cylinder (mölkky) at other cylinders with numbers from 1-12 on it. The objective it to get to 50 points exactly. Unfortunately I only have a couple pictures of Kyykkä and none of Mölkky. I promise I'll take more photos if I ever play again.

31 August 2017

Biopsy's Events Thank you Venla for including us, exchange students, in the freshmen's activities (biotech only of course). I wanted to get to know Finns and now I'm happy I did it. Biopsy organized many events this week which helped me to get to know Finnish students and making some local friends. There was a sauna party in Monday (my first sauna! I will go to that later), some outdoors activities in Tuesday (two Finnish games I'll explain later), a movie night on Wednesday and a pre-Kolmiot party on Thursday (today). So yes, it was really nice and funny, but also really... enriquecedor (as I forgot the world in English), since I got to learn many things from Finnish culture and even be part of it.

25 August 2017

So, orientation week just finished and I have to say I'm sorry for not having pictures of it. You don't miss that much, true that it was useful but also standard procedure (which I had already done mostly thanks to my amazing tutor) What was really interesting was the amount of people I got to know. In just a week I've made friends (I would say) with people all over the world: France, Greece, Spain, Finland, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Finland, Vietnam and more. This exchange of culture is a unique, amazing feeling. Specially when you're around a bar table writing bad words in five different languages 😂 (sorry family!) Getting into international groups like ESN has its advantages too, and in the pictures you can see this nice multicultural group doing a pub crawl. I must say I'm proud, we did five pubs and a night club but thank god alcohol is expensive. Don't worry family, I'm taking care of myself so just enjoy the photos ☺️

19 August 2017

So, it's been a couples of days since I've arrived to Tampere and after a lost luggage (recovered the next day), a wrong apartment key (which of course was changed and kindly repaid with a bag of supplies), some apartment surprises (which I prefer to tell in private), and a nice long trip to Ikea, I'm finally starting to move by myself. Today, Alex and I went to Särkänniemi, a small yet fun amusement park in Tampere. It is not Six Flags Mexico but still, you get the rush of riding a roller coaster. We also went to an observation tower where we were amazed by the city's view, to say the least... you can see some pictures of the amusement park with the tower as well as the view from the tower.

17 August 2017

Have you ever had a Tutor as an international exchange student? Mine is the best. Her name is Venla and she has been so helpful and kind to me. She is also a biotechnology student at Tampere Yliopisto. I don't know what would have been of me if I hadn't had her help (she helped me with everything, EVERYTHING). She introduced me to another Mexican, Alejandro, and we started getting along really well (hola papuuuu). She also invited us to have a drink with some of her Finnish friends which have been such nice, interesting people. Venla, you're the best 💙
My terminology #1 So I'll be writing in my own way and to be more efficient there are some terms that I'll be abbreviating. So as more and more come I'll be explaining them. Here are the first ones: - UTA: University of Tampere. No need to explain - ESN: Erasmus Student Network. A big group dedicated to international minded and exchange students. They organize activities and trips to places like Lapland and Russia. - Biopsy: Biotechnology's student association. - Kauppi Campus and ARVO building: where most biotech and med classes are given - TOAS: The biggest housing association for students in Tampere. They are the ones who got me an apartment. - Finns: an alternate way of saying Finnish people. Sounds more cute. So far that's all you need to know :)
Hola a todos! Salut a tous! For practical purposes this will be the official language I'll be using and I, unless I have a certain expression in Spanish or French, will try to keep English. Even though it's been three weeks of my arrival to Tampere Finland, I've decided to use my arrival date since I want to share this trip since the beginning and I hope I'll be quick enough to catch up with my present activities. Thanks to my cousin (coucou Julie!) I decided to start using this app and I hope I could be as active as I'm wanting to right now. I know I owe so many photos and some tales of my journey so please keep updated as I want you to enjoy this trip as much as I am. Without anymore to add I welcome you to this Journi, and I'm so happy and excited to get started 💙